Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Google's tough job

Google's release of it's instant messenging tool last week was greeted by a mixed reaction. For alot of general press this was exciting news. Google's broad appeal, its virtual omnipresence, has meant that with a little bit of buzz surrounding a new release the story very quickly snowballs.

But while the general press was busy explaining yet again how Google is changing the world, the IT press started asking the real questions about Google's new product. How is it better? How does it compete against the existing competition? Google Talk doesn't, not at this stage. It is in beta, but it is very much a 'me too' product at this time. That is, it exhibits a number of features that other products already have. So what are the benefits?

And this is where the problem lies. Google has set the bar very high for itself. Any product release, beta or otherwise, from Google are met with very high expectations. People expect Google to deliver something to make their lives better, compared to the competition. Google Talk doesn't do that yet. For Google's sake, I hope this is a case of the best is yet to come. For if this is the start of Google simply matching its competitors' features lists it can still lose the war.

Something to ponder - Do marketers count?

I recently heard an interview with one of the guys who wrote the book 'Freakonomics'.

One of the questions was, would it really matter if economists didn't exist?

And it got me pondering, what if marketers didn't exist? How different would the world be? Would it really matter if all us marketers just vanished off the earth tomorrow?

Any thoughts?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Customer Audio Testimonials

They say a picture says a thousand words. But the words of a person in a respected position when they speak are worth a great deal.

Customers testamonials can be so lame. As a buyer sometimes you cringe when you read them. They sound like the marketing department of your supplier wrote them. They are just words on a page. Wouldn't it be great to hear what this customer really had to say?

MarketingSherpa provides this interesting case study on providing customer testamonials via audio files on your website. How to Create & Use an Audio Testimonial Library to Shorten Your Sales Cycle

Books worth revisiting

I know I promised this a while ago, but here it is, some titles that are worth revisiting when you have the chance. These books have been around for some time but their still hold alot of truth in them, unlike some of their contemporaries.

  • Crossing the Chasm, by Geoffrey A. Moore.
    Making that step from early adopter to early mainstream looks easy on paper. So why do so many companies fall over at this point or 'get stuck in the chasm'?
  • SPIN Selling, by Neil Rackham
    Understand the mind of the buyer when the sales person makes their call allows us as marketers to supply more useful collateral to help build the case for the sales person.
Please share with some sales and marketing books you have found important that are worth revisiting.

Friday, August 19, 2005

How NOT to handle customer complaints

This is from Wired News' Furthermore section, which is dedicated to the more unusual news stories.

You're Overdue
09:37 AM Aug. 18, 2005 PT

If you were being generous, you could look at it as a refreshing break from the usual corporate sterility. But LaChaina Govan was not feeling generous. She'd been having lot of trouble with Comcast and she knew when she received her August bill from the cable company, addressed to "Bitch Dog," no whimsy was intended. Govan's bill arrived after she called at least a dozen times to complain about lousy service. After being transferred all over the place and being treated rudely on a routine basis, she complained about that. Then the bill came. Comcast finally stepped in, tracking down and firing the perps, making an official apology and offering Govan a couple of months on the house. She declined the offer. -- Tony Long

Setting the right expectations

Real estate agents aren't the only ones with this problem but recent experience has highlighted it to me.

My wife and I are looking for a new place to rent and we have been talking to agents around London.

We have given them our budget, preferred location, required specs, etc. "Oh yes," they say. "We have properties that meet your needs." So then we spend time discussing various properties, going off to view them and arranging times to see other properties. Problem is, the agents have set expectations that what they will show us will fit our needs. However, the reality doesn't match what they have said.

But worst off all is when the agents set the expectations that they should be able to negotiate a with the landlord to come to a price close to offer. But again, the reality is not very close. Most can't get halfway.

The end result is that any agents who mess us around are immediately 'dropped' from our list of people to deal with. There are plenty more to fill their place. And that's the strange thing. Competition is high so you would think that makes customer service an obvious way to create a point of difference. But they choose to ignore customer service in turn trying to keep you in their grasp long enough to find you something that will fit your needs.

No wonder more landlords, vendors, tenants and buyers are turning to the private market!

But, as I said at the beginning, real estate agents are not the only ones guilty of setting expectations and then failing to deliver. Look at your marketing - your call centre, your website, brochures, etc. What messages are you delivering to your market? And are you able to back them up? If not, how are you going to deliver on those messages? Remember, here's your chance to create an advantage, a unique selling point.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Data everywhere but customer service is missing

A few months back I posted information on an interesting article from Simon Caulkin in the UK's Observer newspaper.

Simon's latest piece on customer service highlights the wonderful irony that while today's companies have more information on their customers than ever before, service standards are slipping as most organisations have little understanding of what to do with it and how to make sensible use of it.

Dial 1 ... to take your custom elsewhere

Back into Marketing

Hello everyone.

After a break from it all things will start to pick up around here over the coming weeks.

There is lots of marketing to be done between now and the end of the year.

I look forward to sharing more thoughts with you and getting your feedback on what is important to you, in marketing terms, between now and December.