What can you say dear reader…
Both Facecrook and Floptus use full page press advertising to try to rebuild credibility.
Who do you trust – certainly not the digital channels that’s for sure…
I’ve recently returned from a trip to the USA, where among other things, my family and I rafted and hiked in the Grand Canyon for a week.
I first did the trip 30 years ago and I have to admit, the 10 mile hike to get up and out of the Canyon, was a tad more brutal this time round.
Within a couple of days of returning I received an email survey from OARS, the company with which we rafted – I highly recommend them by the way. I dutifully completed the survey and thought nothing more of it.
But yesterday, I received this automated marketing message.
It’s a hand-written thank-you card, personally signed by all the OARS crew who looked after us on our rafting adventure. It is automatically sent by the crew to each customer, after they complete their trip.
My kids thought it was wonderful to hear from them and read every word on the card. It immediately brought back some fabulous memories and we all started talking about the different characters on the trip. The kids also asked if they could send cards back to each of the crew too.
The card now sits in a prominent place in our kitchen, for all to see.
It reminded me of a local hairdresser in my suburb. She is a very smart businesswoman who regularly wins small business awards and drives a very flash Mercedes sports car.
Twice a year she gets each of her staff to send hand-written cards to their clients. Each card includes a personal comment based on what the staff knows about their client. The owner calls these cards “wow” cards, because when the clients get them, the first thing they say is “wow“. And the clients always talk about the cards when they return to the salon.
How many of your clients go “wow” when they receive your automated marketing messages? I suspect very few.
So if you’re wasting money on expensive marketing automation software to try and fake authenticity, maybe you should spend less on computers and more on your customers and staff?
Why not send genuine messages of thanks to the people who pay your salary? Cause I seriously doubt your customers ever get as excited by fake personalised computer-generated emails sent from a team, as they do to real messages.
Who’d have thought hey – old-fashioned automated mail, packs more “wow” than customised automated content delivered as pixels?
Gotta go now – am off to the newsagent to buy some postcards for the kids to send…
Here’s a very good lesson in how not to treat a customer…
The following email was sent to me by a colleague, who was waiting on an urgent 48-hour air shipment from Parcel Force.
Just a heads-up folks – if the first words a customer reads on your email are “Do not reply to this email” you are in fact saying “we don’t give a stuff about you”!!
PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL.
Thank you for contacting Parcelforce Worldwide.
Our Customer service email team will aim to reply within 4 working days. The email team working hours are – Mon-Fri: 8am to 6:00pm
Here is a bit of information with regards to deliveries that you may find useful:
If you need to speak with someone due to the urgency of your enquiry, please contact our Customer Service Team on 03448 004466 and they will be able to assist.
Parcelforce Worldwide Customer Services
The lessons from this abomination are:
This sentence implies you might find the deliveries to be useful: “Here is a bit of information with regards to deliveries that you may find useful:”
It should read something like:Here is some useful information regarding deliveries:
4. Never sign an email from a team or Customer Service Teams. Teams don’t send emails – individuals do.
5. Never say “Customer service email team” – it just doesn’t make sense. An email team? Are there hordes of junior executives waiting around to send emails 4 days after getting one in an inbox? Sign your emails from an individual and make it easy to reply to the individual.
I suggest the CEO of Parcel Force does some mystery shopping and learn what it’s like to be a customer. Maybe then the company will wake up to itself and provide real customer service. I’m sure if they keep aiming to reply to problems within 4 working days, there won’t be much work left for anyone to do.
Ever since marketing emerged from the dark to the middle ages in the 1980’s, computers and databases have been essential marketing tools. Data’s been driving marketing since the invention of desktop computers, as it became easier for marketers to track the way customers and prospects responded to their messages.
Any marketer who has worked in the industry since last century, is aware that the process of communicating regularly with your customers and prospects already has a name. It’s been used for at least 40 years and is known as your customer and prospect contact strategy. And it’s supported by a touchpoint analysis to determine the best times and channels for making contact – analogue or digital.
For example, if you sell cars, there are two cycles of communication within your strategy. The first cycle is linked to the date of purchase of the vehicle. The messages cover topics such as: service dates, warranty information, possibly insurance if it was part of the sale price, customer satisfaction surveys, product recall (if required) and other “content” related to the purchase date.
The messages are delivered by mail, phone, email and sms. Most of the messages have been automated since the early 1980’s and delivered without too much human involvement, as they are triggered by the purchase date. Who would have thought hey – marketing automation existed in the 1980’s? Listening to the digi-toddlers, you’d think they invented data and automated marketing.
The second cycle of messaging is related to the time of year, not the vehicle purchase date. Message topics include: vehicle accessory offers, service offers, trade-in deals, new vehicle launches, sponsorship announcements, charity events, merchandise offers, brand news (or in today’s vernacular) brand stories.
The “content” is delivered in all sorts of formats through different channels – mail, phone, sms, email, websites, apps, social, as DVDs, USBs, PDFs, booklets or books, printed and digital newsletters, videos, customised invitations, branded merchandise and more. Some messages are even delivered automatically, as their content is based on the prevailing time of year – a seasonal newsletter for example.
Customer data has always driven (excuse the pun) automotive communications. For example, when we launched Lexus our research indicated owners liked the opera. So we arranged a sponsorship of the parking station at the Sydney Opera House. Lexus owners had free reserved parking near the entrance inside the parking station. Mercedes, BMW and other owners had to find a park in the bowels of the parking station, after first driving past the Lexus branded car park spots. The idea traveled internationally.
We learned the average time Lexus owners spent going to or from work, was less than 30 minutes each way. So when the annual Federal Budget was brought down, we recorded overnight, a report on the Budget. It was 40 minutes long and we published it on a cassette tape – 20 minutes each side. The tapes were sent to owners the morning the Budget was brought down, so the owners could listen to the report as they drove to and from work. Now a link is emailed and posted on social media and the marketing team tracks who listens to the report.
And the way we determined the best stations on which to run radio advertising, was simple. Whenever a Lexus was brought in for a service, the customer service person would note the radio station the owner was listening to and recorded this data on the customer database. Gotta luv the data scientists working in car servicing.
If you’ve worked on automotive brands you’ll also know the best time to make a trade-in offer to a luxury vehicle owner is triggered by one data point only – the finance lease expiry date. You can make the best offer on the planet, but if the lease is not due to expire, the owner will not go through the hassle of breaking their lease to get the new car. You are wasting your money throwing content at them to try and convince them otherwise.
It’s why we had dozens of different mail packs, each designed around data linked to where the prospect was in their ownership lifecycle. These were mailed automatically using relevant triggers to activate the mailing.
Aaah data-driven marketing 1980’s and 1990’s style. What’s old is new again, again.
So to repeat myself, the term for this ongoing contact with your customers (and prospects) has always been called a customer and prospect contact strategy. It doesn’t need a new label, so there is no need to call it content marketing.
And there is absolutely no reason to change the name for this way of communicating with prospects and customers. Just because there are a couple of new digital channels to deliver messages and communicate with (or should that be engage with) customers/prospects, as well as some extra tracking and distribution tools, doesn’t mean we rename a decades-old marketing process.
Delivering relevant data-driven messages to customers and prospects in different channels is not new!
Publishing and sharing “content” is as old as the hills – it’s how marketers have communicated with customers and prospects for decades. The only difference today is that allegedly, the more content you publish, the better the chance you’ll be found online. Of course, if you have a strong brand and the punters search for your brand, rather than using a generic search term, your investment in “content” is usually a waste of money.
Some may argue you need content to build your brand. Well duh. That’s exactly what brands have been doing successfully for decades. And there is no empirical evidence to support the false claims that we have to tell brand stories as part of content marketing to engage customers. You cannot fake sincerity using jargon.
I’ve yet to find any consumer who craves a brand story, let alone more marketing content. At best, they just want useful information to help them make a buying decision, like they’ve always done. Although, as any marketer knows, the vast majority of buying decisions are unconsidered, so why are we pummeling already infobesity-ridden consumers, with all the extra content?
So I ask you to please stop using the term “content marketing”. It is superfluous, has no meaning, causes confusion, and it offers absolutely nothing new to the existing communication process, let alone the marketing lexicon.
Worse still, the marketers and agency types who have drunk the content marketing kool-aid, just get angry when you challenge their belief. Some turn into trolls and attack you for daring to be different and not follow the FOMO pack. Sad really.
So for the good health of these poor naive sods, please stop saying “content marketing” and then we can all just get on with marketing – sans buzzwords.
Unlike many of the marketers in the packaged goods industry, I’ve some hands-on experience in the grocery category.
Back in ancient times, the early 1980’s, my family bought a suburban supermarket in Sydney. Every day we’d arrive early to collect the milk and dairy products outside the store before the sun hit them. And every night we’d shut up shop and head home, somewhere around dinner time.
It was the first time I knew the meaning of “putting your feet up”. That’s because if you’ve been on your feet for 12 hours, up and down ladders, carrying and unpacking boxes and taking bags of groceries out to customer’s cars, all you want to do when you get home is put your feet up and enjoy a cold beer – which we did each night.
In those prehistoric times we provided a home delivery service. (my mother also used a similar service when I as a wee lad) Here’s how it worked.
Customers would write their shopping list on a piece of paper and drop it into the store. Or they’d call us on the phone and we’d take the order. Some customers had standing orders each week and only called us to change the order. They’d pay us in cash, or even a cheque, to settle the account.
So our customers would send us their shopping list, we’d pick n pack it, then deliver the groceries to their home. It was amazingly old-fashioned dear reader. We also delivered goods from other stores on our shopping strip, like the butcher or baker, as part of the service.
But jump forward to 2017. Amazon is coming! The sky is falling. Online sales are growing – mainly because that’s what happens from a standing start, sales grow.
More importantly though folks, thanks to amazing digital disruption, customers can order their groceries on a website or app. They just enter their order on a keyboard, use their credit card to pay for the goods and the grocer delivers the groceries to their home.
Unbloodybelievable. How far have we come thanks to digital disruption? Whereas customers once used a pen and paper to write their order and the grocer delivered the goods, now customers use a keyboard to enter the order and the grocer delivers the goods.
This is such disruptive behaviour, it’s obviously a reflection of something going on in society. It seems some of our old habits have a long tail. Students of marketing will be well aware of the consumer behaviour of the 19th century – ordering goods remotely through mail-order catalogues and then having the goods delivered to your home.
It appears this same behaviour is catching on again. Amazon used to rely on this, but now they’ve bought retail stores too, so customers can go shopping in the stores, not just get home delivery.
So roughly 160 years since the early mail-order catalogues and thirty-something years since my family did home delivery, people’s behaviour is, well, it’s the same as the 19th century. Very little has changed. Surely there has to be a digital buzzword for this phenomenon of things remaining the same?
Gotta go now. Have to do the grocery shopping…where’s my shopping list?
Disruptively connect to me https://www.linkedin.com/in/malcolmauld/
If you’ve studied any tertiary marketing course, you’re probably familiar with Theodore Levitt’s famous consumer insight about power drills.
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”
Marketers and their agencies are often guilty of not understanding the reasons why people behave the way they do. They don’t take time to talk with their customers. This lack of real communication has increased in recent years alongside the growth of marketing automation. We’ve stopped talking, we’re only computing, and lost a layer of human involvement along the way.
As I’ve written before, you’ll be surprised what you learn if you just talk with your customers.
This lack of knowledge about what motivates customers was laid bare at a tourism marketing conference in New Zealand, at which I spoke some time ago. I met Jeanette Kelly – a women who has spent years working in the hospitality industry, running her own business as well as working for others. Jeanette presented a wonderful piece of research conducted by the University of Waikato.
The accommodation and marketing managers of various hotels, motels, guest houses and the like, were asked what they thought were the most important factors influencing accommodation choices. They said, in order of priority:
Guess what the customers listed as the most important factors influencing their accommodation choices, in order of priority?
In case you’re wondering ‘room prices’ came 17th on the list of priorities for customers. And what were the marketers smoking to believe customers care about marketing and sales programmes?
More importantly, as you can see in this case, what customers want to buy and what marketers are trying to sell, are poles apart.
So take some time to really talk with your customers and understand what motivates them. You could be pleasantly surprised by what you learn. Who knows, you might find they’re looking to buy something other than what you’re selling, or even be willing to pay more?
Have to go now. My bride says she has a surprise for me. Why is she carrying a drill?
Let’s connect: https://www.linkedin.com/in/malcolmauld/
You cannot make this stuff up, so I’ll tell it to you straight.
One industry in which I’ve done lots of marketing education in the last 20+ years is the real estate industry. And as you marketers will know, real estate agents sit at the bottom of the consumer “Trust Barometer” either just above or below, advertising and marketing types, depending upon the measurement report.
Two things my proprietary research has revealed over the years:
Last week I was reminded of this by a mate of mine, who is a very talented art director. He was recently contracted by an average suburban real estate agent in Sydney, to design their ads, brochures and some digital assets.
He was to work in their back room and not have any dealings with the public. Here’s what he wore on his first day at work:
This is a typical day’s clobber for most in the advertising and digital world. Quality casual clothes. There are no shiny suits, no completely useless neck ties, no Russian clown shoes that stick out 4 inches in front of your toes curling upwards on the end (minus the pom-pom) – in other words he did not dress like a spiv who leaves you counting your fingers after shaking hands with you.
Within an hour of starting work, the female who contracted him – no fashion princess herself – rang the recruiter and asked him to tell my mate he was inappropriately dressed for the job. She demanded he wear a suit and tie to be a back room art director designing her marketing collateral. Seriously, she did. She wanted him to dress completely inappropriately for the job he was tasked to do, because she had bad fashion sense.
The recruiter rang my mate, fearing he was working in board shorts, singlet and thongs. My mate promptly sent the recruiter a photo of himself in his fully acceptable work clobber. The recruiter’s response; “I’m speechless”.
Suffice to say my mate didn’t go back the next day.
Then a few days later my mate gets an email from GQ with a recommended look for this season. Here’s the image – it speaks for itself:
I have friends and relatives who are very successful real estate agents. They dress comfortably, they don’t overdress. They never pretend to be anything but who they are – a real estate agent. They know that if they overdress they lose their customer’s trust, because they look like they are trying too hard and therefore by implication, have something to hide. This translates into dishonesty, just as the consumer trust barometer reveals.
So maybe if the fashion fools of real estate started dressing appropriately for the job and focused on customer service, rather than their Jimmy Choos, they might move up the consumer trust scale.
Gotta go to work now. Where are my designer stubbies?
Connect with me: https://au.linkedin.com/in/malcolmauld
As the world digests the US election results, the TV screens are full of experts asking questions about how it was possible Trump got elected. Using the rational side of their brains, people are trying to explain why it shouldn’t be.
Well any marketer worth their salt will tell you, one of the most fundamental principles of marketing is this – people buy emotionally and justify their purchases rationally.
If people bought rationally, Jimmy Choo probably wouldn’t exist as a brand. No rational human wants to walk around in 6-10 inch high stilettos! If we bought rationally, the most dominant recent US contribution to the planet – the Kardashians – wouldn’t have any followers.
But we always buy emotionally. Take middle age men for example. They buy a red sports car, then justify their action by claiming a great trade-in deal, free cup holders, acceleration from 0-100 in 3 seconds and lots of other vehicular facts. The real reason they buy the car, is that when they take off at the lights they feel like God and believe it will help their chances with the feminine sex. Fools.
Politics aside – Trump is first and foremost a promoter. He knows that to win the hearts and minds of the people, you must tap into them emotionally.
“Make America Great Again” is a powerfully emotional proposition. Particularly when Trump shouts it as “Let’s Make America Great Again”.
Compare it to Hillary Clinton’s – “Stronger Together”. This is nowhere near as emotionally appealing – despite all the focus groups used to develop it. The rational discussions in those research panels can easily justify anything – though rarely do they correctly understand human nature.
So if you want to succeed with your marketing, your proposition has to be an emotional one. Which is why the Content Con Artists are leading marketers into failure.
They claim you have to stop publishing salesy copy – you just have to publish lots of vanilla content and non-sales copy, or tell your boring story in an “awesome” way and the world will flock to your door. “You no longer need to sell” is their false mantra.
Let me explain something very simple – selling is emotional. People love being sold to – and the experience is called “excellent customer service”. So ignore the Content Con Artists and go forth and sell something if you want your business to succeed.
Like many of you I am a tad nervous about the future after today’s result, but I was also nervous about the quality of both candidates.
Now I’ll just wait for the sales pitch from the President elect once he’s in office and won’t waste time trying to justify why he won.
All that rational thought is too emotionally draining…
Connect with me: https://au.linkedin.com/in/malcolmauld
Regular readers of my musings may recall the appallingly mediocre service I received at the hands of Youi. I eventually rang them to ensure they had cancelled my policy, because they were still charging my credit card.
The lady who served me was wonderful and agreed I had received shocking service. She fully understood why I was leaving and was going to raise the issues with her supervisor. The supervisor was probably an awesome supervisor, most likely wearing lycra and a cape. After all, Youi constantly tell us how awesome they think they are.
At the end of the call, the customer service lady said I would receive an automated survey. I mentioned I was aware of the survey (see previous post). I explained it was designed by fools and didn’t allow me to rate individuals like her really well, as it wanted an overall rating for Youi.
She agreed the survey was badly designed and wished me luck. And you guessed it folks – the survey never arrived.
I haven’t been a Youi customer for a couple of months now. So I ask you dear reader, what do you think arrived in my inbox yesterday? Yes, that’s right, another Youi email asking me to “share my winter warmers” – as if I was still a customer. There’s even a hashtag #winterwarmers to create digi-credibility.
Here’s the first screen:
What is going on at Youi? Why is the marketing automation so appallingly bad? They have my complaint on record, in numerous blogs, social media posts, emails, phone calls and text messages. I’ve cancelled my policy. I am an ex-customer. As John Cleese stated in the famous Monty Python dead parrot sketch; “this is an ex-parrot, he’s ceased to be”.
And I’ve ceased to be a Youi customer – yet their marketing automation technology is still sending me customer communications – I bet their digital marketers call it content marketing? Why do they accept such marketing mediocrity?
Here’s the second screen:
Even if I was a Youi customer, how am I supposed to remember the name of the person who served me, so I can mention them in my winter warmer? Certainly their CRM system wouldn’t be able to identify anyone linked to my account – that would require a simple computer system that works. And it’s pretty obvious Youi’s doesn’t – work that is.
How is it possible that I cancel my policy, have a customer service person state they are raising the reason for my cancellation with their awesome supervisor, and Youi still gets it sooo wrong?
Youi’s ridiculous tag line is “we get you”. Well they (and their marketing automation) obviously get you riled, frustrated, upset and p***d-off at the time-wasting they cause and the lack of service. Not to mention the lack of faith they create in modern data-driven automated marketing.
Worse still, even if I was a customer, they want me to go to their Facebook page and help grow Zuckerberg’s bank account, as well as influence my social feed to Youi-oriented posts for the next month. What planet is the Youi marketing team living on?
So dear reader, should I give them a red hot winter warmer and share my awesome customer experience journey? (I had to get some marketing jargon into the post) If you have a minute, please let me know your thoughts thanks.
And if I am no longer a customer, does it mean Youi is in breach of the Privacy or Spam Act, by using my email address without my awesome permission?
Hmmm, maybe I should send an awesome complaint to the Privacy Commission – then Youi would really get me…
When I was a National Marketing Manager at TNT, I had to fly Ansett domestically because TNT owned the airline. Consequently I only flew Qantas internationally. But in 1990, I joined the Qantas Frequent Flyer programme. Last year was the 25th anniversary of my custom and last month, my 26th came and went quietly.
I’ve flown with them every year since 1990 and spent six figures in airfares. Like many of you, I have been up and down the Qantas ladder of membership. At my peak, I was what’s known as a CIP and my membership status was something like Super Godzilla Platinum. For the uninitiated, a CIP is a Commercially Important Passenger. The CIP acronym is more valuable than VIP – it means you pay serious dollars for your seat, whereas VIPs may not pay at all for the privilege.
The reason I was a CIP, was because an over-indulgent ad agency paid me to travel the world’s busiest route – Sydney/Melbourne – on a weekly basis, sitting at the pointy end of the plane. Eventually I left that role and my travel action declined. I gradually dropped from Super Godzilla Platinum to Shiny Gold and eventually arrived at the humble Dull Silver level – though apparently it’s a Lifetime Membership. Woo Hoo.
During the time I slid down the Qantas eligibility pole for a free beer at the bar and a couple of party pies at the bain marie, I also became a Velocity member at Virgin.
So I ask you dear marketer, why have I not heard one word from Qantas? If you had a customer who had done business continuously with you for 26 years, wouldn’t you like to know why they’d reduced the amount of business they did with you? Wouldn’t you pick up the phone and ask?
Wouldn’t you like to know if you still get 100% of their flying wallet – to use some marketing jargon? Has your service been the problem? Does your customer now fly with your competitor?
I’m not sure how many customers you have who’ve spent continuously with you for 26 years, but I’m sure you don’t have too many. But if you did have such a customer, aren’t these the typical questions you would ask if they stopped doing business with you?
So why don’t Qantas marketers care about the people who pay their salaries? Is it because they make so much money flogging the personal data of members to FF partners, who in turn flog stuff back to said members? Is the airline business so lucrative and simple, they can afford to lose long term customers?
Is suspect the reason is simple – they rely on marketing automation. The computer tracks flight purchases and allocates ‘status’ based on transactions. And we all know how risky it is to hand over your customer service to computers. More often than not, marketing automation equates to marketing disaster.
There is no layer of human intelligence being applied to the BIG DATA at Qantas. Worse still they’re ignoring the small data that matters. Unless of course it’s a budgetary issue – but you’d have to be concerned if the margins in your business restrict you from calling your customers to talk with them?
I’m obviously not the most profitable customer for Qantas, but I have been a customer for more than two and a half decades. You’d think even the lamest marketer would acknowledge the fact? After all, the management could afford to pay a $90 million bonus to the staff last year? But hey, why feign interest in customers?
If you want further evidence, here’s what happened to a friend of mine. Her partner (also a friend of mine) died suddenly from DVT, following an international flight. While sorting out his estate, my grieving friend rang Qantas late on a Friday afternoon to ask what will happen to her partner’s FF points. (you need to plan this in your Will too, dear reader)
She was told to get back to them within 48 hours with the name of a relative to whom they could transfer the points. So after a discussion over the weekend, she rang Qantas on Monday, only to be told she had missed her 48 hour window! The points were to be forfeited.
Suffice to say, she gave them a piece of her mind and eventually coerced the customer service staff into allowing the points to be transferred, somewhat begrudgingly.
Gotta luv the Spirit of Oz.
So I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised about their attitude towards one customer of 26 years…