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Irate customers? Don’t let them stew. Check out how Dell approached it’s Customer Advisory Panel July 27, 2010

Posted by Mike Gospe in Customer Advisory Boards.
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A friend of mine just passed me a link to this great blog post on Dell’s recent Customer Advisory Panel meeting.  There are a couple of things that are noteworthy here:

* Talking with angry customers can be a challenge for anyone.  Human nature inclines us to seek shelter in friendly surroundings.  But, as Dell found out, avoiding irate customers and letting customers stew in disappointment and frustration can be bad for business.  They chose to meet the challenge head-on with a Customer Advisory Panel.  How they did this was very creative: two groups of bloggers/customers, divided based on their affinity towards Dell.  Each discussion moderated by a “graphical facilitator” who captured comments and feedback graphically.  Check out the pictures.

* Graphical facilitators are superstars when it comes to capturing notes and turning them into instant illustrations that communicate with a punch.  It’s an engaging technique that can be used to create an aura of creativity and fun, despite the obvious tension that commonly accompanies dissatisfied customers.  While this technique will not work for all audiences, it seems to have worked well for Dell based on the photos shared in one of the accompanying links.

* What impresses me most about Dell is that they opened their kimono to use the Customer Advisory Panel as 1) an opportunity to collect customer feedback AND 2) as a public relations platform.  Notice that several of the bloggers have already posted comments relating to the event.  It’s a PR/Customer Support strategy that makes a whole lot of sense in today’s social media world.

As Susan Payton says in her blog, the proof of Dell’s actions will be in what they do with the information they’ve collected.  While I’m sure this was not an easy pill for the leaders at Dell to swallow , I applaud them for taking action, and frankly the risk.  We live in a world where the customer is king, and Dell is taking note.

Social Media & the Marcom Mix September 8, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Social Media.
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I have a hard cold truth for marketers: we are no longer in complete control of driving the lead funnel! 

As recently as a couple of years ago, marketers were.  The lead funnel was driven by our pushing messages out to our target audiences.  We controlled the message, the media, and the timing.  Social media has changed the dynamics.  People are finding out about our companies and products before they even get on our radar screen.  Some sources even estimate that 90% of the customer’s buying process takes place without the aid of a sales rep!  This has huge implications for our marcom mix.

The upshot: we must help our companies become “findable” in a marketing landscape we no longer control.

Being “findable” is not just about having a decent website.  It’s about having relevant, meaningful content available that addresses the topics buyers are interested in.  And, it’s about having this content posted in places where buyers look.  In fact, we shouldn’t be talking about social media as if it were another marketing silo.  Instead, we should focus on “content marketing” — providing information and experiences that buyers are looking for.  More than that, we can better establish and nurture a dialog with a prospect if we think about how to provide meaningful content that can be:

  • Captured = easy-to-read content posted in a friendly format that can be cut-n-pasted and downloaded, and . . .
  • Stored = easy to tag, sort, and file in electronic or printed format
  • Forwarded = easy to pass-along and share with others, both formally (i.e. cut-n-pasted into a presentation) and informally (i.e. sharing a link via Twitter)
  • Repurposed = content that can be annotated and adapted by the reader to fit their unique decision-making process

Including Social Media in a Marketing Blueprint

Integrating social media in the marcom mix

Integrating social media in the marcom mix

Today’s lead gen programs can produce higher ROI if they combine elements of both traditional “push” marketing (where you control the message) and “pull” marketing (where we offer information on non-corporate sites and we  listen to and monitor the discussion around us).  The example shown in the above illustration is based on a real marketing blueprint being executed today by a local hi-tech company.

There’s more to the story, of course.  But this gives you a flavor on how and where social media is being used to complement traditional outbound marketing activities.   How will all this play out?  I’ll let you know when the campaign concludes in November!

How are you using social media?  I’d love to hear your stories.

“Beware of the Buyer” August 27, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Persona.
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The marketing team no longer controls the lead funnel.  Before the rise of social media and the notion of viral marketing, marketers were in complete control of driving the lead funnel.  After all, all we needed to do was climb to the tallest peak and shout our messages over and over again.  We “pushed” messages of our own design onto the marketplace.  “Caveat Emptor” or “Let the buyer beware” was our mantra.

Now things are different. 

People are finding out about companies and products before they are on your radar.  Some estimates suggest that 90% of the customers’ buying process takes place without the aid of your sales rep.  The implications for this are both daunting and obvious:  We must help our companies and clients become “findable” in a marketing landscape we no longer control.

Being “findable” means more than just having a website.  It means that we have posted relevant and meaningful content in places where our prospects search for information.  Content is defined as “information and experiences that may provide value for an end-user/audience in specific contexts.”   Today’s world class marketers follow this approach and no longer push blatant sales messages via “user car salesman” tactics.

A couple of tips:

  1. Don’t treat Social Media as a set of isolated, silo’d marketing activities.  Integrate social media into the larger integrated marketing plan.
  2. Social Media (blogs, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, syndicated 3rd party websites) provide a venue to share content in ways that go beyond your company’s website.  Putting this content out to be “found” creates opportunities for prospects to “pull” you into their buying process.
  3. Invest in a thorough, effective SEO strategy using keywords and phrases that are meaningful to the buyer.  Avoid falling victim to your company’s jargon.  Speak the customers’ language.
  4. Every time you post new content, Tweet about it; update your Linkedin page; post an announcement on your Linkedin groups page; update the “news & events” page on your website.
  5. Most importantly: monitor the conversation.  Social media is really an interactive dialog, not a one-way messaging machine.  Listen to what is being said about you, and take note, and engage in the dialog.

How has your business integrated social media into your integrated marketing plan?