For whatever reason, companies like to de-personalise communication with their customers. From the robotic voice recording in over-the-phone customer service to marketing messages (or otherwise) meant for the masses. Everything is depersonalised.
But what if it wasn’t this way? What if all your phone calls to companies was answered diligently by other people? What if all messages was written just for you? What if instead of signing “From the Customer Service Team” in emails, the CEO or managers themselves personally sign it? What if one company treated each person as an individual and not just one of the crowd?
Well, for one, at least for me, it makes me feel treasured and respected and I would be more loyal to the company. I would be more emotionally invested in the company, then tell 10 other people about your company’s remarkable treatment of customers. Instead of sending feedback emails and essentially getting told that they’ll politely ignore me, my comments get sent directly to people in the company who makes the decisions. Again, I’ll feel like my opinions matter. From the internal workings of the business, being more connected to your customers also means you’ll get hints as to what products and services to produce for them.
And all this boils down to at its fundamentals, is treating your customers like they’re people. It’s not just a marketing and business implication. Since when has respecting your fellow human being fallen out of fashion?
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I decided to do a quick search online, looking for actual cases of great word-of-mouth rather than just reading about it in the textbook and two specific instances caught my eye:
1. KFC fixes potholes
For the lazy, the article basically tells of KFC’s PR stunt to repair many of the “350 million potlholes” on US roads in 4 US cities and stamping on top of the job with a highly visible KFC logo. Just from that short explanation, the ingenuity of this idea is clear. The press for such a stunt would be off the hook, and if people somehow miss all the media about it they’ll hear about it from people they know, or they’ll see the KFC stamps on the roads themselves. I don’t know how long they’ll keep the logos on the road, but you can imagine it’ll be for a while. One expensive PR exercise in exchange for years of future word of mouth potential. Not only are they fixing a dire US national safety issue, they are doing it during the worst financial crisis since the depression. It’ll cost KFC several small fortunes to pull off, but damn me, they’ll see the return on the back end in a big way.
2. Mighty Fine (this one is about a month and a half old)
This one is pretty in-depth so I don’t need to elaborate on it, but do read it. It’s just add emphasis to your understanding (as it did to my own).
The point is that whether you spend millions on a marketing ploy or not, your company needs to do something special. They need to do something that takes the ordinary – the little aspects of our day-to-day lives we take for the status quo – and make it extraordinary. The idea doesn’t have to be big, it just has to different enough to create buzz, enough to earn the opinion of people who come across it. It just has to be different enough to make it worth talking about.
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The world knows Tucker Max as the premier irrespressible but ultimately lovable asshole. His NY Times Bestselling book I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell is being adapted into a major motion picture. But what the world doesn’t know about him is that he is a remarkable internet marketer. So far, in my opinion, his marketing strategy it revolves around his production blog. I may have very little marketing experience but I see it as absolute genius. Blogs are cheap (often free), easy to run, and it generates priceless advantages. I’ll post my more in-depth thoughts later, but in general here are what simple online marketing such as blogging can do for you:
- Build awareness. Tucker started his movie blog about 1 year prior to the estimated release date. His audience would’ve started out small, but the word would gradually spread. Get people talking about your project.
- Build credibility. Allow for a comment section. Tucker has an extensive forum dedicated for fans to ask questions where he himself and his team vigilantly answer them. Let your audience talk to each other and to the production team. It helps create interactivity and credibility.
- Application of permission marketing. Don’t spam everyone; it’s annoying. Let the people who want the info have it, then give them more. The blog has an RSS Feed. He talks about the movie on his Twitter. You could sign up for his mailing list. In return for them signing up for such tools, they give you permission to market to them. You do tha. Give them exclusive bonuses. Make your audience feel appreciated and treasured.
- Online word-of-mouth. The buzz generated by the blog by itself and Tucker’s interesting post about the movie business, making of the movie, informal entertaining and personal posts give everybody plenty to talk about. Slowly, the word will spread. You may not trust Tucker’s obviously biased opinions, but if everyone else is talking about it…
Let’s just say that online word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing in existence.
All of this from a blog. Hollywood head honchos spend millions of dollars on advertising for their movies and rarely do they manage to cultivate all of that stuff. Why is Tucker the only one who’s doing it?
Oh, right; he’s a damn good marketer.
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