Category Archives: Customer Experience

If It Ain’t Broke… Then Just Enhance It

I recently returned from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)  trade show in San Francisco for our client Manheim.  We repurposed last year’s “sports lounge” booth, enhancing a few key elements.  Why would we want to use the same sports lounge concept from last year?  Well, it worked.  How do we know it worked?  We looked at the results.

We didn’t just look at anecdotal comments from industry leaders such as Kathy Jackson of Automotive News, who stated in her blog, “They really had it going on at the Manheim booth – sports bar with lots of flat screen TVs and free beer, wine, soft drinks and nuts.  You would have thought you were on the set of ‘Cheers.’  The bar was packed.”  We also looked at last year’s results, such as 800 unique attendees engaged at the booth for an average of 28 minutes per person.

So going into planning for this year’s trade show, the consensus was to go with what worked last year and aim to make it even better.  The primary goals were to increase the number of attendee engagements as well as time spent with the attendees.

First, we increased the size of the booth footprint, making the sports lounge 10 feet deeper.  Since the sports lounge was packed last year, we figured attendees may appreciate more seating and more elbow room.  And, oh yeah, we may be able to engage with even more attendees.

Second, we promoted the sports lounge with news racks near the trade show and pre-show e-blasts to dealers, promoting an NFL replica football giveaway.

Third, we secured and branded a nearby sports bar with 31 interior and exterior window banners, two continuously looped, closed-circuit television spots, napkins and cups.  We invited attendees to join Manheim and watch the “Big Game” between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers on February 6th after the trade show.  There, we gave away more footballs, iPod touches and iPads.

The results:

  • An increase in unique engagements over last year, from 800 to 1,150.
  • An increase in average time spent in-booth with attendees, from 28 minutes to 32 minutes.
  • Engagement with more than 350 attendees for an average of THREE-PLUS hours at the off-site sports bar.

So what does it all mean?  First, by establishing measurement criteria up front and looking at results, you can evaluate program-to-program performance objectively.  Second, even if previous results were good, they can always be better.  Third, you may not need to reinvent the wheel to drive results.  And finally, people like free beer and sports.

Gary Sayers, Vice President, Account Director

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Filed under advertising, Customer Experience, Engagement, Measurement, Trade Show

Engaging with the Big Game

There is no question that I will be engaged in the Super Bowl this weekend.  In fact, it has been on my radar for weeks.  The question is exactly how will I choose to engage?

  • Old School —  Just enjoy the game for the game’s sake.  As a native Pittsburgher with fond memories of the Steel Curtain, swirling terrible towels, and chanting “One for the Thumb,” it’s a logical choice.
  • Facebook Fanatic – Participating in the virtual cheers and jeers that are bound to continue between my Facebook friends who have been posting images of Steeler cheese graters, “Stairway to 7” slogans and other signs of their team affiliations for the past several weeks.
  • Professional – As a 20-year veteran of the advertising and marketing world, there is the obligation to analyze every commercial so that I am prepared to debate the winners and losers with family, friends and colleagues on Monday morning.
  • Twitter Tags – And there is always the appeal of the Twitter buffet of 140-character musings on everything from the plays, the refs, and the commercials to the Polamalu  vs. Matthews “Hair Bowl.”

The truth is, I will probably engage with the Super Bowl in all these ways, as each appeals to me on a different level.

As a marketer, it is also a good reminder that target audiences are multidimensional and will choose to engage with brands and messages in a variety of different ways with different expectations – sometimes all at the same time.  Communications plans need to be as multidimensional as they are.

Pamela J. Alvord – EVP, Managing Director of Strategy and Operations

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Filed under Ad Agencies, advertising, Customer Experience, Engagement, Social Media, Strategy

Marketing in the New “Mocial” Environment

The marketing buzzword of 2011 will likely be “mocial” – the convergence of mobile and social media.  Mobile technology encompasses speed and accessibility, and social media enables people to stay connected.  Merging the two fits today’s new cultural communications environment, where time and attention reign supreme.

Most brand managers understand the power of social media and have incorporated at least one social media tool to communicate with customers.  This is definitely a step in the right direction.  Seventy-five million of Facebook’s 500 million customers follow at least one brand or company, and nearly 50% of Twitter’s 190 million do the same.

Meanwhile, the use of mobile devices has grown exponentially, and recent statistics prove that mobile users are much more likely to engage in social media.  Currently, there are more than 200 million users accessing Facebook through their mobile devices, and these users are twice as active on Facebook compared to non-mobile users.

Building a personal relationship via mobile is a surefire way to influence customers and their buying behavior.  The power of mocial is the ability to reach people at key decision-making moments.  A Harris Interactive poll recently showed that of consumers who receive some form of permission-based text marketing from a company, 34% said the messages have made them more likely to visit the venue and 27% more likely to make a purchase.

Mocial marketing offers an opportunity for a company to interact with customers, rewarding them when they visit your location to make you aware of their interest in your products or service.  Other ways to engage customers include: discounting/couponing, instant feedback, interactive competitions and flash events.

Domino’s Pizza is one company that has capitalized on mocial marketing and reaped the benefits.  It attributes a 29% increase in 2010 pre-tax profits to an effective use of promotions on Foursquare.  Companies that follow in the footsteps of Domino’s Pizza and put a sound strategy behind mocial have an opportunity to make significant financial gains of their own in 2011.

— Debbie Dryden, VP, Thought Leadership

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Recent Gap Jeans Giveaway – Success or Failure?

A couple weeks ago, Gap teamed up with the newly launched geolocation service Facebook Places to give away 10,000 pairs of free jeans.  By some accounts, the promotion was a great success, citing the fact that using only Facebook and traditional word-of-mouth advertising, all 10,000 pairs of jeans were given away in less than two hours.  However, the company fell short in execution — the effects of which will likely cost it in lost revenue down the road.

Promoted via Facebook, shoppers were instructed to visit a Gap store on November 5th, check in using Facebook Places, show the cashier the check-in acknowledgment, and receive a coupon for free jeans.  When the doors opened on November 5, a number of people were disappointed to find out that individual stores had as few as seven pairs of jeans to give away.  In addition, due to a lack of understanding about Facebook Places, many customers attempted to “checkin” online instead of going to their local store.

Facebook, the vehicle credited for the successful promotion, became the outlet where a majority of people complained.  As one person vented, “I don’t think people are mad about not getting free jeans as much as they are mad about the way that Gap handles their promotions and mistakes.”  Several people who identified themselves as loyal Gap customers vowed not to shop at the store in the future.  Only time will tell if these disgruntled customers will stick to their word and not shop the store.  And what a shame if the company loses loyal customers and revenue over a promotion that was poorly executed.

The company’s claim of success in the way of increased Facebook traffic, “likes,” and comments reminds me of the cartoon by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne that asks, “Who needs customers when you have friends, fans, and followers?” Well, companies do, if they want to be around in 2011 and beyond.  Social media has emerged at a time when marketing measurement is top-of-mind.  Although “likes” and Facebook traffic are good tools to monitor, a smart marketer knows that sales is the only figure that ultimately matters.  A program can only be deemed “successful” if it increases the number or frequency of customers.  How does your marketing department or agency measure its programs?  Is sales the primary indicator of a program’s success or failure?

— Debbie Dryden, VP, Thought Leadership

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Lessons on Engagement from the California Angels

I recently attended a trade group meeting, where I connected with industry colleagues from around the country. Stories about survival during these challenging economic times abounded – many shared their struggles and ups and downs, and some even noted the unexpected success they are having this year, although many would not have predicted it. That speaks to the changes in how clients choose to work with marcom firms in general.

During one of the sessions, the president of the California Angels baseball team spoke. He brought his marketing director, who walked us through how they re-branded the team over the last several years.

I would classify myself as a “semi-interested” baseball fan. I’m originally from the Bronx, so the NY teams are part of my DNA. However, I’ve lived in Atlanta so long, that the Braves now join that molecular strand. But what I found interesting about the Angels presentation was how they continually strive to engage their customers — from the die-hard season ticket holders to the differing segments of their market, most notably, the female constituency.

They also work hard to employ best practices throughout Major League Baseball. Along with the World Series winner, the San Francisco Giants, the Angels employ eight customer service specialists who are assigned to season ticket holders. Their responsibilities include: engaging with each one and reaching out to make sure they are happy, proactively inquiring if they need anything, and leaving the door open for these valuable customers to reach out anytime they wish.  As a result, the Angels claim one of the top season ticket holder renewal rates in MLB.

The two speakers shared many stories, and one thing rang clear — they are devoted to their fan base — whether long-time season ticket holders or the family who visits one time. They are mindful of prices at concession stands as well as on merchandise. They have a supportive owner (after the Autry family, then the Disney ownership debacle, now to a businessman owner who seems to “get it”).

What are the lessons? (1) Attend industry events and meetings so you hear stories like this firsthand, and (2) engage frequently with your customers to make sure they come back time after time because they love your brand and how it makes them feel.

— Rena Kilgannon, Principal

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Compelling is a matter of respect. Advertisers should show some of it.

Ever gone out to dinner with someone who constantly cuts you off to talk about themselves? Ever work next to someone who bores you with what they did over the weekend while you’re trying to work? Or maybe you have a mother-in-law who continuously explains to you how things are supposed to be done while you’re trying to finish your chores. You probably get the feeling these people don’t really care what you think. And you’d most likely be right.

So why do advertisers interrupt and bore their audience with monotonous, dumbed-down messages? Some advertisers think the public is an idiot and they’re hopeless. Some are simply testing only for brand recall and a few copy points and feel this works for them. And most likely they don’t see it as their responsibility to entertain you.

I’d like to propose that it is an advertiser’s responsibility to provide a well-crafted, compelling message that not only informs but also entertains. There is enough visual and aural pollution in the world already. Walk down a commercial street and you’re most likely looking at ugly signs, litter, billboards and transit advertising, and listening to noisy cars, buses, and music coming from storefronts. The world is a very tough place to win attention. http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=56750

Back in 1970, in a famous book, sociologist Alvin Toffler warned of information overload (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_shock). Today, there is a lot more media in our lives, and the pace of change is rapid. Messages need to do more than break through clutter; they must stand out in a torrent of media, much of which is actually designed to be engaging.

So how can a brand compete? Two ways. With big, targeted, and expensive media buys. Or with smart, engaging content that people actually want to see. It’s obvious that there is a responsible choice here.

— Jimmy Gilmore, Senior Copywriter

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Filed under advertising, Compelling, Customer Experience

How engagement can fall short

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone; the world is changing. People are receiving up-to-the-minute information as news is happening, rather than wait for the 6 o’clock news. News stations (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News) report updates on their websites, and Facebook and Twitter posts have become the definition of “current” events. As technology continues to develop, advertising, too, must learn to reach audiences in new, compelling, and engaging ways.

The digital age is upon us, and with it comes more ways to reach audiences than ever before.  Today, audiences are targeted through social media sites, online banners, search engine optimization, and limited online TV commercials. Even though advertisers have many more venues to reach new customers than ever before, it’s a stretch for some of these media to have a discernable impact. But I came across one such campaign that was so compelling, I had to share it with everyone I could.

This campaign was intriguing, interactive, and engaging enough that I wanted to continue “playing” with it long after my first video finished. But after five minutes, could you tell me what the brand was? You may recognize the product and what it can do, but do you know the brand? (The answer is Tipp-Ex, a brand of correction fluid, owned by BIC, better known in Europe). While the concept of this campaign is incredibly strong, the execution fell just a bit short of turning an engaged audience into a new supply of consumers. And, after all, isn’t the end goal of advertising to sell products?

Here are three steps that Tipp-Ex missed that could have turned the compelling, engaging campaign into one with positive, measurable results:

  1. Continue using the product. Clearly, there are many videos that Tipp-Ex produced for this campaign. Allowing me to “use” the product in order to create a new blank would have had me interacting with the product directly. Repetition would have made me recall the brand next time I’m ordering supplies.
  2. A link to the website. There are more than 6.8 million views (at the time of this posting) to this video, but not a single clickable link to their site. Can you imagine what 6.8 million views would have looked like had they been allowed to visit a microsite or landing page? Then, Tipp-Ex would have had a targeted, active audience on THEIR site, and not just some YouTube link.
  3. A call to action. While I enjoyed interacting with the videos of this campaign, once I was done, I was done. The campaign did not provide an opportunity for me to further my involvement with the brand by offering a call to action. A simple coupon (on this yet-to-be-executed website) that could be printed and taken into any office supply retailer to be redeemed will have me asking for this brand by name next time I’m in need of correction tape.

With these three additional executions to the concept, uninterested Web surfers could have become interactive and engaged audiences and converted into measurable consumers, and perhaps loyal brand stewards.

— Jonathan Ginburg, Senior Account Executive

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