Learn best practices from three companies who are doing CRM well: Zappos, LOVEFiLM, and Victoria's Secret.
Learn best practices from three companies who are doing CRM well: Zappos, LOVEFiLM, and Victoria's Secret.
Last autumn, Starbucks heated up the UK coffee wars with free Wi-Fi. They've now started rewarding their UK customers through their loyalty program.
Coupon usage in the UK isn't as rampant as it is in the U.S., but it is on the rise as people look for ways to save money during the recession. The direct mail package includes a booklet which has a month's worth of coupons - each good for one day only. Surely by the time their customers use each coupon, they will have established a new daily ritual (not to mention a serious caffeine addiction).
Chase is sending out inserts in its credit card statements encouraging customers to sign up for the very helpful-sounding "fraud alert" service. But what is the real reason they want your mobile number?
If you read the fine print on the enclosed insert entitled "IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING CHANGES TO YOUR ACCOUNT AND YOUR RIGHT TO CANCEL YOUR ACCOUNT", they've amended their terms of service to state that "you authorize us, or anyone acting on our behalf, to call or send a text message to any number you provide."
Why might they want to send you a text message? According to the insert, they can text you "for any lawful purpose, including but not limited to: suspected fraud or identity theft; obtaining information; your account transactions or servicing; collecting on your account; and providing you information about products and services."
This legalese disguised as a default opt-in to marketing messages gets a failing grade. I don't mind receiving marketing messages by SMS, but only from the companies I choose to let contact me. Additionally, the thought of getting middle-of-the-night texts and calls from a collection agency (i.e. "anyone acting on our behalf") if I ever miss a payment makes me uneasy. I'm sure they only do that for very delinquent accounts, but from a customer point of view, the disadvantages of giving Chase my mobile number far outweigh the "fraud alert" benefit.
(click to enlarge)
This seems like a case of the legal department not talking to the marketing department, which can be a challenge in financial services marketing.
Have you given your mobile number to your bank, or other companies? What experiences have you had?
As a follow-up to my post from yesterday about the UK launch of Chris Anderson's new book Free, I thought I'd share thoughts from the panelists: Stefano Hatfield, editor of thelondonpaper; Paul Brown, the UK MD of Spotify; and Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy Group UK. All comments below are paraphrased.
Brown: The general thought about music is that advertising is not the panacea. Radio has done very well with the free model. Pandora is projecting a turnover of $40 million this year. Licensing costs are high but there are successful free business models where there are paid and free elements. "Free" is a very powerful way of generating profit from high margin products. Spotify is only four months old but revenue is doubling month on month.
MediaWeek: How are free newspapers affecting consumers? Is the work of traditional journalists in jeopardy?
Hatfield: In the past three years, several jobs have been created at thelondonpaper and London Lite. But there aren't as many journalist jobs on each title. The Metro has about 100 people on staff. Fleet Street is going to have less journalists. It's a more dynamic and fast-moving process. When Michael Jackson died we did 24 pages in two hours.You have to be more creative when you can't spend 10 million pounds on a Madonna photo.
MediaWeek:Is there a down side to the "free" business model?
Sutherland: Jeremy Bullmore said some of the worst successful products in the world survived because they were free -- the metal coat hanger and the warm-air hand dryer. The end user had no say in it. White wine that is free is invariably worse than wine that you choose.
Free thoughts - the UK launch of Chris Anderson's new book
Digital serfdom: I want my UGC (an argument for fair compensation of content creators)
Trendy spotting: Spotify
Last week I attended the UK launch of Chris Anderson's new book Free. Anderson is the former editor of Wired magazine and author of The Long Tail.
The event, hosted by MediaWeek, featured free drinks (or was that payment-in-kind for some publicity?) and featured panelists Stefano Hatfield, editor of thelondonpaper; Paul Brown, the UK MD of Spotify; and the inimitable Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy Group UK.
No such thing as a free lunch?
According to Anderson "free" used to be a "huckster's phrase" with offers such as "buy one get one free" and "free with purchase". Perhaps referring to advertisers as hucksters in a room full of people that work in the industry was not the best choice of words, but no one seemed to object. He gave examples of offerings based on "free" such as Jell-O giving away free recipe books to stimulate demand of a product no one had then heard of; King Gillette selling razors to banks who then gave away the razors with their "save and shave" program (customers then had to buy the blades); and mobile phone providers giving away the handsets for free in order to sell minutes.
He mentioned that advertising-based business models are also built on free -- a third party is subsidizing your free radio or TV programs. The internet has started with this "old media" model. "With a new media, you always adopt the old business model," Anderson explained.
Freemium - 21st Century Free
The new media model is freemium, where a company gives away 99% of its product/service/information for free and charges a premium for just 1%. This model is already in use by companies such as Spotify. Anderson's theory of the "radical new price" is based in part on the fact that "the cost of everything online falls by 50% every 18 months", a theory that is eloquently debated by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker. (Anderson's response is here.)
At what cost free?
I would love to see a panel debate with those two, or a roundtable about the future of intellectual capital, creativity and investigative journalism. I briefly asked Sutherland after the event whether he thought the trend towards free resulted in creativity being devalued. After all, Ogilvy makes its money from creative ideas. He referred to former J Walter Thompson chair and Guardian columnist Jeremy Bullmore (who I find myself agreeing with more and more), who says that you should never write for free. But Sutherland added that writing for three hours per week is pleasurable, and people will do it for free, but any more than that and it becomes a job. And people want to get paid.
So are all of those people writing for free for three hours per week for online publications such as The Huffington Post who (unless there is more recent news) doesn't pay bloggers taking away jobs from people who are journalists by trade? This to me is where the debate gets interesting, but Anderson seemed to shrug off the notion that there would be a serious impact to journalism, giving an example of an exposé by a local blog about vegan restaurants selling products that were not, in fact, vegan. I doubt those same bloggers would volunteer to go to Iraq to determine whether the purported weapons of mass destruction were, in fact, weapons of mass destruction. Thank goodness we have the likes of Sean Penn for that. Hatfield did mention that we'd always have Reuters and the AP to cover those stories; however, isn't this consolidating information, power and influence on the some on the most important global issues - the issues that would most benefit from the opinions and investigations of trained journalists? But I digress. This is an issue for the intellectuals of our time to debate. At least, I hope they will.
More on "Free"
I will post comments from the panelists tomorrow.
Thanks go to David Quigg for the Gladwell links.
Here’s a quick list of places to find inspiration for those in creative, strategic or account management roles – and client side roles as well! Use this list if you’re feeling stuck or want to get “out of your head”.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I think it’s important for the account team to add value to the client. So get inspired, come up with a few ideas and let your client know you are thinking about their business goals, not just the current job numbers you’re working on. Don’t guard your ideas – share them with your client. One thing I’ve found is that when you share ideas, more are sure to flow in.
· Take a walk outside. Take a walk with no purpose. Meander around. Notice interesting architecture at the tops of buildings, the color of leaves, the noises, the smells. For an added challenge, take a camera with you and try to come up with the most interesting picture of “nothing” that you can.
· Change your mode of transport. Some people get their best ideas in the shower; I seem to get mine in the tube. Maybe it’s because I wish I were somewhere else. The bus is great for staring out the window and observing human behavior from a safe distance.
· Magazines. Read a general business magazine like Business Week to get back in touch with what’s happening in other industries.
· Fiction. Read a fiction book that has nothing to do with your job, your industry or your client’s industry. It will get your mind working in a different way.
· Visit a museum. Notice the unique shapes, styles of dress, colors, patterns, technological innovations, etc.
· Go retro. Shut off your laptop. Get out your pen and paper or a typewriter if you’re trying to write some clever copy. Forget online image banks and go back to the old-fashioned way of creating a mood board – clip images from magazines, books, your own photos, etc.
· A mile in their shoes. If your client has a physical location (e.g. retail store), visit the store as a customer. What kind of people are shopping there? What kind of people are working there? What do you notice about the way the store is set up? What would make you want to visit this store, or buy more?
Please leave a comment with any suggestions on where to find inspiration.
As for where not to find inspiration: marketing trade journals, television shows or existing ad campaigns. Everyone else is looking at those things, too – that’s how we end up with an advertising “Hundredth Monkey Effect” with many different agencies creating similar campaigns.
Though “microtrend” is becoming a buzzword, those of us in the direct marketing industry know that dividing people into small segments (and targeting them accordingly) is nothing new. In fact, The Clustering of America, first published in 1988, was an antecedent to current bestseller Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes.
The green movement, which started as a microtrend, has been undeniably upgraded to macro trend. With Al Gore recently winning a Nobel Prize to add to his Oscar and other accolades, this trend is now at its apex. So I want to be the first to predict a new microtrend: greenetically incorrect.
When “political correctness” became trendy in the early 90’s, it didn’t take long for parodies to appear. Books like The Official Politically Correct Dictionary and Handbook appeared, along with mainstream comedic satire, and of course Bill Maher’s infamous TV show “Politically Incorrect”.
Green is ripe for a ribbing. I think because many comedians and entertainers have a tendency to be left leaning, it could take a little time, but it will happen eventually – give it four to six months.
Is this bad for the green agenda? Actually, I think it’ll be a positive sign, kind of the way you know you’ve made it in the entertainment business if you get made fun of on Saturday Night Live. They’re not writing sketches about Z-list celebrities… or issues. Green is now firmly in the A list.
Here’s what I see happening in the greenetically incorrect microtrend:
· Rise of popular greenetically incorrect blog(s) and/or web site(s)
· “Breakthrough” comedian gets noticed through controversial greenetically incorrect comments or material in his/her act
· Greenetically incorrect clusters begin getting recognized by marketers
The greenetically incorrect clusters could include:
· Green Coats: those that want to appear green to their peers, but take no individual green actions
· Green Neutrals: those that don’t care about green issues at all
· Greenetically Incorrect: those that flaunt their non-green behaviors – Land Rovers, private jets and short-haul flights, one-block taxi rides, etc. Their “I’m above being green” attitude is a social currency with peers.
Marketers will target the greenetically incorrect for luxury brands, as these Carbon-intensive activities indicate wealth.
While this may seem cynical, direct marketers are practical and results driven – we are there to analyze behavior and target accordingly, not judge it. For instance the marketing campaign around one major charitable initiative that launched last year to support a global A-list celebrity’s cause was all based on targeting consumers who the agency labeled something akin to “Cappuccino Committors”. According to the agency, the ideal target for this new brand was people who care about the cause and want to do something to help… as long as it fit into their normal behaviors, didn’t interfere with their lives and didn’t cost extra.
So to recap, this is how I see this trend evolving:
1. Pro-green targeting (already happening)
2. Green crescendo (in progress)
3. Green parody
4. Non-Green targeting (e.g. Greencoat, Green Neutral and Greenetically Incorrect)
In my experience working with some of the top agencies in London, a lot of emphasis is put on developing award-winning creative. While it's great publicity for the agency (and sometimes the client too), I would advise clients to consider whether an appropriate portion of their budget is being spent on creative development.
A long-standing tenet of direct marketing is that creative is only responsible for 20% of a campaign's success. The list and offer are responsible for 40% each. It's also a good thing for account people to keep in mind when they are dealing with the demands of the creative department.
But what about the percentages for online media? For e-mail marketing, the percentages are the same. For web sites, where there is no "list", it's up for debate. But consider the no-frills pages on Wikipedia and Craigslist or the shoddy design of MySpace. The creative wasn't king for these success stories.
For the final post in this series, I've included "the bigger picture". How do you find time to think about the bigger picture and to come up with the big ideas? Often this is difficult with day-to-day deadlines taking precedence. However, it is a vital part of the agency/client relationship in order for the agency to be adding value and developing the business. Work with your Account Director to make sure “thinking” time is set aside.
At the end of a quarterly or other major project, it is useful to conduct an internal Project Debrief (also called a Post Mortem).
· Was the process clear to the entire team at the outset?
· Were the responsibilities clear?
· How well was the team able to respond to requests?
· How well did the team work together? Were they responsive and flexible?
· Was the process effective?
· Were there organizational obstacles that made it difficult or impossible to conduct any part of the process?
· Did you have the right information and tools to do the job well?
· Were communications adequate in all activities?
· Did the project meet all original scheduled milestones/deadlines?
· Did the project receive all the necessary approvals to proceed in a timely fashion?
· Was the project staffed appropriately?
· Was quality of the deliverable adequate?
· What have we learned from this project?
· Has all the documentation been completed and saved?
· Work with the Finance Manager to understand your project’s budget. Find out what is included in the retainer, and make sure that the client is clear on this as well.
· Ensure the resources booked in do not exceed the budget.
· Anything that might push the project over budget should be flagged up to the Account Director as soon as it is discovered.
The more you know about the other aspects of the business, the more value you can add to your client by ensuring that procedures are streamlined, quality checks are in place and that your client is getting the best service possible.
· Production: while the Production manager is the expert in the latest techniques, machinery, suppliers, etc., the following information is useful for the account team:
o What are the options for printing my mailing?
o What is the most economical way to print my mailing, e.g. 16-page booklets are cheaper to run than 20-page booklets.
o What are the postage options for my mailing?
§ What is the maximum weight to maintain the existing postage rate? If the weight was decreased would the postage be cheaper?
§ For foreign mailings, is it faster, cheaper etc. to use Royal Mail or direct entry?
o For ongoing projects, arrange for a visit to the printer to see your mailing in process.
o Where is the inventory stored? How often is it counted? What is the client charged for stock/storage? How often does Production receive an inventory report?
o Are inventory items weighed in?
o Are mailing elements checked against a mailing grid and sample enclosing pack?
· Data: it is important to understand the following in order to prevent errors and troubleshoot as necessary:
o Who generates the file?
o How is the file transmitted? FTP? Disk?
o What is done to the data by each supplier/client department that handles it?
o Who reviews the reject files?
o How long is the data kept on file at each place that receives it? Are data protection laws/rules being followed?
· Create a “Crib Sheet” to refer to at the beginning of each project. This should summarize in a few bullet points what the project is about, the brand positioning and any other details pertinent to your client. This will help freelancers or anyone else who works on the project quickly understand the framework in which they are working.
· Conduct internal status meetings as required with your Designer, Copywriter, Production Manager, etc. to ensure that the project moves along according to schedule.
· Creative Sign Off:
o Ensure the sign-off process is understood by the team so that changes happen at the right stage, i.e. not five minutes before it is due to the client!
o Don't skip proofreading.
o The Account Handler should always ensure that the creative is on brand, and should review each execution thoroughly for factual errors, omissions, etc. The Account Handler should also check each phone number and web address to make sure it is correct and up and running.
Here's a quick tip for internal meetings:
Make the most of internal meetings by being organized, letting the team know in advance what will be covered (create an agenda if necessary) and follow up as soon as possible with a contact report so everyone knows what their action points are.
In this new series, I'll post some wisdom I've collected over the years on account management. Comments or additions are welcome, of course.
Building Trust with Clients
One of the most important roles of the account handler is to develop the client relationship. Besides building personal rapport, there are some things you can do to build your client’s trust.
· Client meetings
o Ensure the client knows what to expect at the meeting.
o Ensure you are prepared.
o Ensure the client is never put on the spot.
o For meetings where your direct contact’s boss will be present, review the content of the meeting with your client in advance. Make sure s/he understands all of the concepts to be presented.
o Always bring extra copies.
· The approval process
o Clients may have many things on their plates, and they may be working with many agencies. Make things as easy as possible for your client to review and approve. For instance, if sending over a second round for review, highlight the changes (either on the document if appropriate or in a covering note). While this takes extra time upfront, it speeds the approval process. Once the client is comfortable that you are ensuring his/her changes are made the approvals will be much quicker.
· Agenda: if you have a lot to cover, write up an agenda. If your client may think this is too formal, then just keep it as a crib sheet for yourself in order to organize your thoughts and ensure the meeting progresses smoothly.
· Adding value: clients like to see that you are thinking about their business. Bring along a new idea, a relevant article, etc. whenever possible.