Flooring The Consumer on Simple Marketing Now

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Simple Marketing Now - Update

Now that I officially have over a full month as Chief Simplifier under my belt [see Big News: Simple Marketing Now LLC], I'm ready to update you on goings on at Simple Marketing Blog, the Blog and Newsroom for Simple Marketing Now.

First - Press Releases.
I'm very pleased to have several noteworthy events to announce.
Second - Background Information Relevant To The Business
Yes, introductory posts like Welcome To The Simple Marketing Blog! and Meet Practical Marketer Christine B. Whittemore, a listing of all of the articles [with links] I've written for FCW in Floor Covering Weekly Columnist Christine B. Whittemore, and also a summary of public speaking opportunities - see Christine B. Whittemore Presentation History.

Third - Posts Relating to My Notion of 'Simple' Marketing
I frequently come across references to simplifying. Simplifiers in the Marketplace and Simplifying Has A Lot To Do With Green give you a sense. It's truly part of a new zeitgeist. Would you let me know how you interpret it for your world?

Practical, effective, simple marketing takes into account that Blogs are now mainstream media." That it is elegant and effective: DC Goodwill Fashion Blog: Simple Marketing In Action. Be sure, though, to avoid Websites Irritants Guaranteed to Drive Visitors Away

On the educational front, I share A Practical Twitter Primer and ExecuNet Presentation: Social Media Primer.

I'm discovering Practical Work Tools and I'm grateful to Susan Abbott for creating and sharing Painless Insight Planning For Market Research. Have you checked it out?

Thank you all for your wonderful encouragement. I appreciate it.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Social Media Series: David Polinchock on Bridging New & Old

This week's guest for Flooring The Consumer's Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old is David Polinchock.

David Polinchock writes The Experience Manifesto. I hope you read it! That's where he celebrates innovative thinking about the brand experience, passion for the customer experience and delight with successful retail manifestations. Technology and social media are part of it, too, but as a tactic in support of strategy and experience. Throughout his writings, David injects common sense, practical perspective, and lots of valuable insight.

I first met David at the Brand Experience Lab, an amazing place where 'culture, creativity and technology' come together to bring brand stories to life, in May of 2005. He had us spell-bound as he discussed creating branded retail experiences and then took us on a guided walking tour of SoHo to observe various interpretations of successful retail experiences. Definitely inspiring!

C.B.: David, how and why did you get involved in social media?

David: That’s a good question. I started officially blogging in 2004, but I’ve also spent a lot of time doing events and I consider that a “social media” as well. I think it’s been interesting to see how folks in the Internet space, the people who used to be on the outside, have now become the inside. So, when we think SM, we think online. But I see SM being much broader. For example, I think our work on movie theaters, where we got an entire audience to play a game together by leaning in their seats, is social media.

C.B.: What do you like most about social media?

David: I think the thing that excites me the most is when I see the idea of SM leaving the Internet and actually taking place where I am. I think that things like loopt or foursquare are just the beginning of what my daughter Sydney (who’s 8) will see as she grows up. The ability to mix the real world with our SM world is going to have a major impact in the coming years.

C.B.: What do you like least about social media?

David: Without a doubt, the hype. Last year I wrote a blog piece about how upsetting it was that people were really excited that social media allowed brands to listen to customers and I just remember thinking to myself, this is why brands are so messed up. They think listening to their customers is a new & exciting thing. Plus, because it is sort of the wild west out there, we get a lots of folks jumping on the bandwagon just to capitalize on the language, not to create any value. I’ve said something like this more then once on my blog.

But the discussion by most in the ad industry about social media is just the latest tactic du jour. We had branded content, Second Life, viral, WOM, and on and on. Read the trades and look at how many times over the past couple of years, a slew of companies were built around chasing the tactic du jour. How many social media companies have been started in the past 6 months? But we do this instead of helping clients understand the true value of connecting with their audience by any means possible and appropriate. For many agencies and clients, they're just tactics that we jump on and jump off like they were a trampoline.

We really need to get back to answering core questions, like how will “blank” help create a more compelling, authentic and relevant brand experience for our audience. We need to stop thinking about the tactic and think about real communication.

I’m also sometimes frustrated by the whole need of immediacy all the time. OK, so you didn’t like the Motrin commercial, that’s cool. But did Motrin need to be slammed because they hadn’t responded immediately? On the weekend? Sure, if you had said “There’s poison in Motrin,” they should respond right away. But there will always be someone who doesn’t like what you do. Knowing when/when to respond will probably be the one of the trickiest mind fields in the future.

Lastly, I’ve also said a lot that SM + advertising = Amway. If you’re old enough (like me), you can remember someone in your life that really got into Amway and hawked in constantly. To the point where you stopped hanging with the person so you didn’t have to get the sales pitch. Unfortunately, advertisers still see everything through the prism of the old ways of doing things. So too often they don’t say how can I use this new tool to do something new, but where can I put my 30 second spot.

C.B.: What 5 suggestions do you have for companies to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users? What should they try? What should they avoid? Should they model themselves after specific companies?

David: It has to start with a review of who they are and who their audience is. I love my mom, but it’s going to be a while before she’s using Twitter to communicate to customer service!

And then, they have to look at why they’re trying these things. If it’s an experiment that they really are interested in succeeding, then that’s great. But all too often, they’re just jumping on the bandwagon too and they haven’t really thought through the resources needed to make this things work. They’re used to thinking with as campaign mindset and that’s not how SM or the idea of brand experiences works.

They should also ask themselves first, what benefit will this have to our customers. For example, if someone decides to use Twitter because it could save the company money, then it probably won’t be successful in the long run. And I don’t mean to pick on Twitter.

So, they really should try everything that makes sense for who they are. They should avoid things that wouldn’t be authentic to who they are.

My last suggestion is that no matter what they’re doing, they need to listen. I’m still surprised when I learn that companies don’t have a Google alert set up. It’s not surprising at all that people don’t search Twitter and the like for their brand names.

C.B.: Any other thoughts to share about the effectiveness of social media in forging stronger relations with customers.

David: Right now, it should be all about the customer experience. Especially in a down economy. As a consumer, I may not be spending as much, but the things that are important to me, that’s where I’ll put my money. So you should always be looking at these tools to create those better relationships. How can I more quickly respond? How can I make something easier for my consumer. Most of all, the challenge is being flexible to deliver in all of the ways necessary. So for me, it’s one way. For my mom, it’s another and for Sydney it might be a third way. If I like to call, stop making me go to a web site. If I like your web site, don’t make me go somewhere else. That’s going to be a big challenge for folks!

Thank you, David!

Comments? Reactions?

What about Google alerts? Are you using them? How are you using them?

What about getting back to "answering core questions?' How do you think about creating a compelling and relevant brand experience for your customers? How are you building meaningful relationships with your customers?

I love David's definition of 'social media.' What do you think of it?

For additional insights from participants in the Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old please visit The Entire Bridging New & Old Social Media Series.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Personal Branding Magazine Issue 8 Re: Female Power Brands

I hope you subscribe to Personal Branding Magazine. [If not, please read through to the end of this post!] The May 2009 issue #8 in particular is near and dear to my heart because it addresses Female Power Brands with special focus on six amazing and exclusively interviewed women:

I'm particularly proud because Dan Schawbel invited me to contribute to the Expert Advice section, with an article titled "Personal Branding and Women or Left- vs. Right-Brain Branding."

Here are all those who offer Expert Advice:
Dan has made a free sample available today. It includes ten articles and partial interviews. Simply go to PersonalBrandingSample.com.

The full issue of the magazine will be available on May 1st. Here's the catch: it's only available to paid subscribers.

The Solution? Simple.

Subscribe before May 1st and receive the issue in your email inbox. More information can be found at PersonalBrandingMag.com.

Don't wait!

Oh, and please let me know what you think of my article?

Thank you!

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Guestpost: Lead Domination's Jamie Klein on Improving Customer Experience in Retail Selling

How best to improve the customer retail experience? I'm pleased to share with you perspective from Jamie Klein, president of The Lore Institute and author of Lead Domination.

What I particularly appreciate in this guest post is the focus on how retail selling plays such a critical role in improving the retail experience for customers. And the solution has nothing to do with the hard sell -- something that our core women consumers particularly abhor!

Improving the Customer Experience in Retail Selling
by Jamie Klein

In a difficult market where many retailers are seeing their staff levels shrink and wrestling for more limited consumer dollars, what can you do to improve the experience being provided to your customers? An interesting insight to this question is revealed in a survey completed by The The Luxury Institute in January 2009. This wealth survey on sales and marketing practices was responded to by over 500 consumers representing the top 7% of income earners in the U.S. In the sales portion of the survey, consumers were asked to rate their experience with sales personnel when inquiring about purchasing. One of the lowest scoring categories was as follows: the consumers being surveyed felt that sales people were much more interested in making a sale and less interested in how the product they were selling would satisfy needs that the consumer has. [C.B.: emphasis mine] In fact less than 30% of the respondents rated this question favorably.

It has been our experience that this has always been an under-performing area in sales. It is important that sales people before they start selling their products fully understand if the client they are addressing has specific needs for the product they are being shown. By doing this, the clients will feel that the sales person is concerned about their needs as well as concerned about the product being able to satisfy their needs rather than just being able to sell the product. Below are eight items that should be focused on to turn this challenge into an opportunity.

8 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve Your Customer Sales Experience

1. Write down discovery questions that will reveal your clients potential needs for your product. For example if you are selling shoes, try to understand why the customer is looking for shoes. Are they for work? Are they for evening wear? Are they looking for comfort or style? What is their price range?

2. Practice closed-ended questions. These are questions that are answered with a “yes” or “no”. These questions work well with less talkative clients and to begin a discovery process. Following the example above, you could ask “are you looking for shoes for work?”

3. Practice open-ended questions. These are questions that allow your clients to speak openly about the subject matter and tend to reveal much more relevant data on how your product may satisfy potential needs the consumer has. These are outstanding questions for clients that are out-going and talkative and tend to build rapport more quickly when they can be utilized.

4. Discover essential needs. Listen carefully to any needs that client shares with you that are essential in their minds for purchasing your product. These essential needs are the key to delivering great sales experiences and increasing sales.

5. Be able to understand in a discovery the difference between the essential needs mentioned above and incidental needs that are nice to have but clearly not a reason to purchase your product.

6. Be sure to practice your discovery questions so that you know what questions to ask, why you are asking the question and most importantly, what data you are looking to obtain from each question. This will also drive whether or not to use open or closed questions.

7. Listen effectively. You’ve probably heard it said that it is easier to listen your way into a sale than to sell your way into a sale. This is true in retail as well. Ensure your sales team knows how to listen thoughtfully and is actively engaged with their customer. This can be measured by the quality of eye contact they are making with their customer and their body language. When the client is talking, do not interrupt. In fact, try to expand the conversation by using phrases such as: “tell me more”, “that is interesting”, “can you explain further so I understand”. Allowing your clients to talk while you listen is always favorable in the customer’s experience and in your selling experience. Always remember the person in control is not the one talking, it is the one asking questions.

8. For sales people that are dedicated to delivering better sales experiences with as many customers as possible, they should keep track of the customers they speak with and write down as a the essential and incidental needs that were discovered during their meeting. This best practice will help sales people deliver presentations based upon consumer needs rather than their desire to sell the product and will improve their sales and the consumer’s experience at the same time.

In today’s competitive retail environment, delivering an outstanding customer experience is more crucial than ever. Take time to understand your customers needs and they will reward you with their purchase and their loyalty.

Thank you, Jamie!

In his new book “Lead Domination,” Jamie Klein covers in detail the 8 topics above – as well as twenty other applicable strategies! Jamie has over 30 years experience in the lead management sales and marketing profession. He has launched luxury ownership business enterprises, lead management initiatives, and sales and marketing operations for luxury brands including the Marriott, the Four Seasons, and St. Regis. He speaks frequently at national conferences and is one of the premier real estate sales and marketing experts in North America.

Jamie recently
presented on this subject at The Florida Luxury Marketing Council. According to Chris Ramey, he was very well received in both Miami and Palm Beach. What also came through is how well Jamie Klein understands the process of effective database marketing and management.

What do you think about Jamie's retail selling recommendations? Have you implemented similar practices? How have they affected your customer experience?

Related Articles:
+ 7 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve Your Business Right Now (Jamie Klein) from Drew McLlellan's Drew's Marketing Minute

+ 70% of money invested in generating sales & marketing leads wasted from Harish Keshwani's Business Works

+ The Iconic Jamie Klein and The Lore Institute from The Resort Trades.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Age of Conversation 2 - Why Don't They Get It? on Amazon!

Great News! The Age of Conversation 2 - Why Don't They Get It? is now available on Amazon.

That's thanks to Gavin Heaton's herculean efforts.

The book represents an amazing global collaboration involving 237 authors from 15 different countries, all shepherded by our very own Drew McLellan in the US and Gavin Heaton in Australia. The proceeds benefit Variety, the children's charity.

I've been featuring snippets from the chapters in Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old. Have you noticed?

For example:

Arun Rajagopal's chapter is titled "The Smart Beast in the Creative Jungle." In it he writes: "Embrace new ideas in consumer experiences, media, technology and productivity.... Most importantly, get away from the desk and step into the real world of consumers."

Kristin Gorski wrote "Crossroads: When Micro Storytelling Meets Social Media," it ends with an interesting yet social media relevant challenge: "to learn how to slow down, thoroughly survey the social media scene, decide what stories we want to tell, and then utilize this powerful arena to maximize their reach..."

Dan Schawbel's chapter is titled "eBranding for the Masses." It starts with the following statement: "What people might overlook or fail to understand is that our lives are already the result of the Internet."

Chris Kieff contributed "The Secret to Conversing with Non-Humans" . This snippet from his chapter - "There are Non-Human Entities among us... They move amongst us quietly, unseen by most. However, they carry immense power. These things can make or break companies, individuals, and careers..." - gives you a feel for some of the wisdom and humor he brings to what he does.

Mario Vellandi wrote "Dancing to the Beet" where he describes "Heart Beet Gardening" "which builds vegetable gardens for schools, communities and home owners in Los Angeles, California." In it, he asks Accidental Marketer Sara how she goes about marketing. "...I just like talking to folks about the joy of growing and eating their own fresh food... Other than that, all the activities I plan and carry out help support that goal."

Jay Ehret 's chapter "Is This Really the Age of Conversation?" where he asks an interesting question. Are online conversations any better than offline ones? It depends.

Lori Magno's chapter is titled
"Are You Next?" It captures Lori's blend of practical creativity. In it, she asks "Are you the next new media producer?" Because social media enables the sharing of creativity and passion, expertise, and knowledge in a new virtual marketplace.

You now have a taste for why Age of Conversation 2 - Why Don't They Get It?represents a must-buy, must-read book that covers the following 8 critical social media topics:

Manifestos -- Declarations, up front, on the Age of Conversation. Why don't people get it? What about companies? Where are things going? What can you help clarify?

Keeping Secrets in the Age of Conversation -- With everyone talking so much, why do we need secrets? What is the role of privacy? What about different personas and identities? Why don't consumers understand that their online conversations are tracked and can come back to haunt them?

Moving from Conversation to Action -- Talk is cheap, or so they say. What are the practical steps that businesses and brands can take to move from conversation to something more valuable to their business? And if it is so easy, why don't they just do it?

The Accidental Marketer -- People "fall into" marketing. They may study and qualify in a different discipline but somehow find themselves in marketing and advertising. What is the attraction? Or...have you known a company or brand who just seemed to naturally fall into marketing success? How do you think that happened?

A New Brand of Creative -- With the changes in the way that people communicate and collaborate online, marketing and advertising companies are needing to reach out and work with a new type of creative team. What do these "creatives" look like. What are their skills? Why do they evangelize digital and new media? And what are the challenges that they face?

My Marketing Tragedy -- A topic only for the brave ... Do you know a project that failed? Was it yours? What prevented success? What worked? And most importantly, what did you learn? Who didn't "get it" -- was it your client, your boss, the board, or (dare we ask) you?

Business Model Evolution -- Just as the markets and people are changing, so too are the business models around both clients and agencies. What is your take on this? What is working and what is not? Where will things go? What happens if an agency doesn't "get it". How do you measure "it" ... and where will things go?

Life in the Conversation Lane -- Bringing it all back to the individual -- how is life in a digitally connected, social world impacting our lives? What is the personal cost and what is the attraction? Is there a balance or are we just kidding ourselves?

My chapter appears in the Business Model Evolution section and is titled "Don't Be Myopic About Social Media."

As with the first
Age of Conversation, 3 versions of the book are available for sale (hardback, paperback and e-book). Don't wait! Buy it now! If you need a better reason, then read Katie Chatfield's AOC2 - Let's Kick it!

[Previous posts include - b
ack in October, 2008, It's Here!!! Age of Conversation 2. Now Available for Purchase and The Age of Conversation 2 - Update and The Age of Conversation - Why Don't They Get It?.]

Here are the 237 authors from 15 countries who came together for Age of Conversation 2 - Why Don't They Get It?

Adrian Ho,
Aki Spicer, Alex Henault, Amy Jussel, Andrew Odom, Andy Nulman, Andy Sernovitz, Andy Whitlock, Angela Maiers, Ann Handley, Anna Farmery, Armando Alves, Arun Rajagopal, Asi Sharabi, Becky Carroll, Becky McCray, Bernie Scheffler, Bill Gammell, Bob LeDrew, Brad Shorr, Brandon Murphy, Branislav Peric, Brent Dixon, Brett Macfarlane, Brian Reich, C.C. Chapman, Cam Beck, Casper Willer,Cathleen Rittereiser, Cathryn Hrudicka, Cedric Giorgi, Charles Sipe, Chris Kieff, Chris Cree, Chris Wilson, Christina Kerley (CK), C.B. Whittemore, Chris Brown, Connie Bensen, Connie Reece, Corentin Monot, Craig Wilson, Daniel Honigman, Dan Schawbel, Dan Sitter, Daria Radota Rasmussen, Darren Herman, Dave Davison, David Armano, David Berkowitz, David Koopmans, David Meerman Scott, David Petherick, David Reich, David Weinfeld, David Zinger, Deanna Gernert, Deborah Brown, Dennis Price, Derrick Kwa, Dino Demopoulos, Doug Haslam, Doug Meacham, Doug Mitchell, Douglas Hanna, Douglas Karr, Drew McLellan, Duane Brown, Dustin Jacobsen, Dylan Viner, Ed Brenegar, Ed Cotton, Efrain Mendicuti, Ellen Weber, Eric Nehrlich, Ernie Mosteller, Faris Yakob, Fernanda Romano, Francis Anderson,Gareth Kay, Gary Cohen, Gaurav Mishra, Gavin Heaton, Geert Desager, George Jenkins, G. Kofi Annan, G.L. Hoffman, Gianandrea Facchini,Gordon Whitehead, Greg Verdino, Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming, Hillel Cooperman, Hugh Weber, J. Erik Potter, James Gordon-Macintosh,Jamey Shiels, Jasmin Tragas, Jason Oke, Jay Ehret, Jeanne Dininni, Jeff De Cagna, Jeff Gwynne & Todd Cabral, Jeff Noble, Jeff Wallace,Jennifer Warwick, Jenny Meade, Jeremy Fuksa, Jeremy Heilpern, Jessica Hagy, Joanna Young, Joe Pulizzi, John Herrington, John Moore,John Rosen, John Todor, Jon Burg, Jon Swanson, Jonathan Trenn, Jordan Behan, Julie Fleischer, Justin Foster, Karl Turley, Kate Trgovac,Katie Chatfield, Katie Konrath, Kenny Lauer, Keri Willenborg, Kevin Jessop, Kristin Gorski, Lewis Green, Lois Kelly, Lori Magno, Louise Manning, Luc Debaisieux, Mario Vellandi, Mark Blair, Mark Earls, Mark Goren, Mark Hancock, Mark Lewis, Mark McGuinness, Matt Dickman,Matt J. McDonald, Matt Moore, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Michelle Lamar, Mike Arauz, Mike McAllen, Mike Sansone, Mitch Joel, Neil Perkin,Nettie Hartsock, Nick Rice, Oleksandr Skorokhod, Ozgur Alaz, Paul Chaney, Paul Hebert, Paul Isakson, Paul McEnany, Paul Tedesco, Paul Williams, Pet Campbell, Pete Deutschman, Peter Corbett, Phil Gerbyshak, Phil Lewis, Phil Soden, Piet Wulleman, Rachel Steiner, Sreeraj Menon, Reginald Adkins, Richard Huntington, Rishi Desai, Robert Hruzek, Roberta Rosenberg, Robyn McMaster, Roger von Oech, Rohit Bhargava, Ron Shevlin, Ryan Barrett, Ryan Karpeles, Ryan Rasmussen, Sam Huleatt, Sandy Renshaw and James G. Lindberg, Scott Goodson,Scott Monty, Scott Townsend, Scott White, Sean Howard, Sean Scott, Seni Thomas, Seth Gaffney, Shama Hyder, Sheila Scarborough, Sheryl Steadman, Simon Payn, Sonia Simone, Spike Jones, Stanley Johnson, Stephen Collins, Stephen Landau, Stephen Smith, Steve Bannister, Steve Hardy, Steve Portigal, Steve Roesler, Steven Verbruggen, Steve Woodruff, Sue Edworthy, Susan Bird, Susan Gunelius, Susan Heywood,Tammy Lenski, Terrell Meek, Thomas Clifford, Thomas Knoll, Tim Brunelle, Tim Connor, Tim Jackson, Tim Mannveille, Tim Tyler, Timothy Johnson, Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Toby Bloomberg, Todd Andrlik, Troy Rutter, Troy Worman, Uwe Hook, Valeria Maltoni, Vandana Ahuja,Vanessa DiMauro, Veronique Rabuteau, Wayne Buckhanan, William Azaroff, Yves Van Landeghem

Won't you support our effort to help Variety? Please buy
The Age of Conversation 2 - Why Don't They Get It?

Thank you!

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