Are You Outsourcing Your Best Asset?

July 2, 2008 at 6:39 am | Posted in Communication, Companies, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments
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Are you outsourcing the most valuable aspect of your business? Or worse yet, not paying attention to it at all?

Technology has been replacing humans at work for many years. And recently the remaining humans in American and elsewhere have been replaced by other humans in areas that pay lower wages. The result has been a significant deemphasis in the value of human capital in business in America.

Here’s The Equation

Web 2.0 amplifies the voices of dissatisfied consumers. And yet, most companies have been subtracting the number of humans period (technology) or humans housed at the corporate office (out-sourcing). Finally, another increasing trend is the face-to-face contact consumers expect from companies (ComcastCares, anyone?).

Increase in personal interaction – humans equipped to handle that interaction + web 2.0 vehicles to spread word of dissatisfaction = potential major headache for companies.

The Good News

Some companies, however, understand the increasing importance of the customer experience. H&R Block set up a Second Life avatar to answer tax questions during scheduled meeting times, in addition to their efforts on Twitter and Facebook. They understood that they were required to go to where their customers were, instead of expecting customers to come to them.

This outreach isn’t easy though. The Social Media podcast spoke with Paula Drum, VP of Marketing for H&R Block about this outreach:

“The other big surprise is how much time you have to put in from a human capital standpoint. And we knew that going in, that the trade-off between buying media is going to be the human capital side, but really understanding that human capital side of it and thinking about it from [the perspective that] ‘if this is successful, how do you scale it to make sure you can still deliver the same experience.'”

Continue Reading Are You Outsourcing Your Best Asset?…

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Ogilvy vs. Godin: Is The Big Idea In Advertising Dead?

April 29, 2008 at 5:28 am | Posted in Advertising, Books, Boomers, Communication, Generation X, Generations, Godin, Seth - Meatball Sundae, Marketing, Net gens, Ogilvy, David - On Advertising, Online marketing, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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Is the concept of the Big Idea dead in advertising? How much has the internet and Web 2.0 specifically altered the fundamentals of the industry?

In his 1983 book, On Advertising, master David Ogilvy held forth on the central tenet to sell products:

“You can do homework from now until doomsday, but you will never win fame and fortune unless you also invent big ideas. It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product…Research can’t help you much, because it cannot predict the cumulative value of an idea, and no idea is big unless it will work for thirty years” (emphasis by the author, page 16).

And yet, almost the very same day as I read this from Ogilvy, I find myself almost stunned off the treadmill as new master Seth Godin holds forth on the big idea in the third disk of his audio book, Meatball Sundae:

“There’s a difference between a big idea that comes from a product or service, and a big idea that comes from the world of advertising. The secret of big-time advertising during the 60s and 70s was the big idea…Big ideas in advertising worked great when advertising was in charge. With a limited amount of spectrum and a lot of hungry consumers, the stage was set to put on a show. And the better the show, the bigger the punchline, the more profit could be made. Today, the advertiser’s big idea doesn’t travel very well. Instead, the idea must be embedded into the experience of the product, itself. Once again, what we used to think of as advertising or marketing is pushed deeper into the organization. Yes, there are big ideas. They’re just not advertising-based” (disk 3, minute 48).

Of course, we should probably define a “big idea.” As explained, a big idea is an advertising tool to sell products. It stands the test of time. It originates with the company and is distributed far and wide. It is inextricably linked to the product and the experience of the product.

In my mind, big ideas include cut-out coupons. By-mail Sears catalogs and mail-in rebates. Tony the Tiger and the Trix Rabbit. Toys in cereal boxes that had kids begging Mom to pick that one! (Why cereal innovation is on my mind this morning, I have no idea.) Shopping malls. Radio jingles. Anything that fundamentally affected people’s decision about whether to buy a certain product or not.

So where do I stand?

Continue Reading Ogilvy vs. Godin: Is The Big Idea In Advertising Dead?…

Epic Fail: Customer Service – How Citibank Failed and Why They’ll Never Know

March 27, 2008 at 6:38 am | Posted in Advertising, Amazon, Citibank, Communication, Companies, Decision making, General, Godin, Seth - Meatball Sundae, Marketing, Online marketing, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment
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Update: I’ve received some attention from the post below, but I feel as though I should clarify a few things.

The email from Citibank was lame, but for a huge company, not totally surprising. However, the arrival of this email does not necessarily negate that the company is listening. Toward the end of the post, I make that connection and most of the time, it’s true. In this case, however, I don’t think it is responsible to connect one lame email with a company’s entire attitude.

That said, the moral of the post – companies who fail to listen will be overtaken by those that do – still stands. I believe that will only become more apparent as time goes on. -End update

To fail may be human, but for a company to fail at customer service these days may well be disaster.

You may remember when I mentioned a Citibank ad last week in a post about features versus benefits in advertising. Their print ad was spot-on when it spoke about how Citibank fit into their customers’ lives (plus, who can resist a cute puppy?).

Citibank fail small

Epic Fail

So when I sent them an email noting my complimentary post, I expected at least a quick “thanks!” That’s the response I got from Moosejaw (they even promised to send me some schwag which must have gotten lost in the mail…). So imagine my surprise then almost 48 hours later, they reply with a standard “sorry, we can’t even respond to your email” email.

Continue Reading Epic Fail: Customer Service – How Citibank Failed and Why They’ll Never Know…

I Finally Get Seth Godin – Eating The Meatball Sundae

March 24, 2008 at 6:04 am | Posted in Books, Communication, General, Godin, Seth - Meatball Sundae, Heath, Chip and Dan - Made To Stick, Marketing, Online marketing, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment
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I admit I used to poo-poo Seth Godin. In my business, that’s akin to snubbing Jesus. But I never understood why so many marketers loved his writing. I’d read Seth’s blog, caught himgodin.jpg on several podcasts, and read his articles, but I didn’t get him until today.

My problem with Godin was the fact that everything he said sounded like common sense. “You need to learn the new marketing before applying it to a business.” DUH. “Your business might not be right for the new marketing.” SNORE.

Sure, Godin is full of common sense about marketing – he should be! But it didn’t seem that useful to me. (Not that I’m a genius, but I felt his suggestions were awfully apparent if you just paid attention.)

Here’s what I didn’t understand

Continue Reading I Finally Get Seth Godin – Eating The Meatball Sundae…

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