Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why a $3.50 Nonfat White Mocha with Whip Makes My Morning

Most of us are creatures of habit. We wake up to the automated aroma of our Costa Rican breakfast roast, the feeling of the our dog's slober upon our brow or my soon to be wake-up call from the nursery. These are things that define our mornings; let's call this series of events micro-actions. Why micro? If you bundled up the things that you did prior to leaving the house; they are all planned and scheduled on a timeline that is strung together in order to get you to where you need to go each morning. So your major actions are:

1. Leaving the house
2. Getting to work
3. Compiling that marketing report
4. Eating your lunch
5. Finishing the meeting
6. Getting home
7. Going to bed

Not to sound so mundane, but these tend to be the most common major actions within a day. Between each of these are many micro-actions. Make sense? Please let me know if this sounds crazy, but I'm going out on a theoretical limb, where most marketers shudder to think.

If each of these micro-actions leads us to some milestone action, how can you associate this to marketing and a $3.50 Nonfat White Mocha with Whip? Here's how. Every morning I perform the following string of activities between "Leaving The House" and "Getting To Work":

1. Place my things strategically so they don't slide around the car.
2. Tune my radio to my favorite radio station
3. Take the same route
4. Stop at the Solana Beach Coffee Company for my Nonfat White Mocha with Whip.
5. I'm a regular, they know what I want. (There's an expectation and maybe because I'm in the Gen Y demographic, a Digerati, etc. or maybe not)

This interaction each morning with this business is a crucial micro-action between a series of major actions that create the timeline for the rest of my day. If that is thrown off at all, it could create some chaos in the predictable nature of my morning. Something would need to take the place of that micro-action. Solution ...

This morning I stop, walk in and I'm told that their espresso machines are getting maintenance and they didn't send them out in time and the holiday threw everything off. This micro-action is about to be replaced ... They then apologize and present me with a "Free Mocha" card :) Now you can guarantee they understand the value of my loyalty and meeting my expectations. What they don't quite see right off the bat is the "micro-action marketing" they are performing by giving me the free mocha card. You could call this blog post Word of Mouth marketing, Conversational Marketing, but in the scheme of my whole day, they kept my timeline in tack and in fact exceeded my expectations as a small business.

So is micro-action marketing something of value? Yes and no. Yes, be aware of how customers currently experience your product, service, event or location. Plan ahead for their expectations and you've achieved successful micro-action marketing that ignites word of mouth marketing and the feedback loop that most businesses are currently trying to be a part of.

Thanks Solana Beach Coffee Company for my free mocha ;)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Customer Feedback Gets Interactive

Experience SuggestionBox.comAside from covering conversational marketing tactics by other companies, I to have a day job like most of you. From 9 to 6pm or sometimes 7 or 8, I'm the Chief Marketing Officer of a new technology startup in Solana Beach, CA called Positive Digital Solutions. We're setting out to create some innovative platforms for changing the way companies and customers engage each other as well as some other areas for which I can't discuss yet. So for anyone part of a startup, you know the environment ... everything is a priority and there never seems to be enough time to tweak that last piece of code, move that pixel 5 more centimeters or brainstorm new copy for the homepage; then Techcrunch calls you and says they want to write you up. Everything pauses like time stood still and you take a deep breath and hope you're ready for the traffic.

Launching has been a great experience in understanding what the user truly want AND the best part is ... now they have a place to leave us all of their feedback, suggestions and ideas, in one place. Outside of being a blatant "toot our own horn", I'm going to give the straight forward why SuggestionBox is good for your business. Yes we don't have an API yet, yes people have to sign up, yes you need the email of the company in order to contact them, BUT there's a lot of great features for those Small to Medium-sized businesses that want to get a feedback mechanism setup in a matter of minutes.

SuggestionBox is trying to fill the gaping void of "customer fulfillment" that exists from the online to offline channel. You submit feedback to any big website or put a comment card in a wooden box on the wall, what happens..? Usually nothing. You don't know who got it, if they are going to respond and if it ever gets implemented. This is the core of You submit an idea or suggestion to a company, they post it to the public and update the status. You receive a notification in your dashboard that it's been updated from New to Under Review, Under Review to Pending Implementation and so on. Finally, you're getting something in return! And that's why you sign up. Every company you wanted to submit suggestions to is in one place. What do you do when you want to pay for something online? Do pull your credit card out everytime or is PayPal an option; simply login and click pay. We know isn't the standard yet, BUT we're positioning it to be something as simple as the name for SMB, Enterprise, Fortune 1000 to 50, etc.

For the marketers out there and being one I know, think about reaching out to your customers and letting them you're listening, willing to "engage" them and then having the ability to re-connect months from when they submit ideas letting them know you've implemented their suggestion. If you know anything about lifetime value, then you can see the value in re-connecting with customers instead of missing an opportunity and losing them to a competitor. If you're not putting the time in with them; you can bet your competitors are.

What about if you're in HR and you're trying to figure out why your front line employees aren't performing or aren't loving their job? You assign employees to various customizable categories. As you categorize incoming suggestions, these employees receive the idea and then can respond to customers directly or leverage the internal scoreboard to weigh in on the Pros and Cons of the idea. Employee Empowerment? Pretty sweet.

Go check out and try it out. Leave your feedback in the account and if you don't I'll run into you at the many events we'll be attending.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Work Out Season 3 - SkyLab's Lisa Quick Wit Gets Her Nowhere

So I fell asleep last night at the end of Work Out, but luckily we have DVR! As soon as I walked in the door today, she started on with, "Did you hear what the new manager said about a cancer survivor on Work Out last night?" (pause)

As we are both avid watchers of the show because it's reality tv plagued with drama; this is how a conversation was created between two viewers. Earth to Bravo and Work Out , are you listening? Because we all are!

I won't go into the details, but comments were made about the breasts of a "client" who was training with Brian Peeler. These unprofessional comments were made by Lisa, the new manager. Bravo edited out any comments by Jackie Warner and the confrontation with the client's boyfriend who overheard all of the comments and confronted Jackie and Lisa. Why were they edited out? What was said? So Lisa blogs on Bravo's website here and attempts to cut off the evident onslaught of hate mail and comments by trying to be witty and posting a blog titled, "Open Your Eyes and Shut Your Mouth." Now seriously, maybe Bravo could hook Lisa up with a PR person, Communications Director or even a Marketing Assistant to give her some tips on how to blog and how to start a conversation that includes an apology.

IF anyone would like to continue the conversation or educate Skylab's new manager on etiquette, here is their contact information:

Sky Sport Spa & SkyLab
8500 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Tele: 310.652.7721
Fax: 310.652.2616

Hours of Operation:
6:00am - 9:00pm, Monday thru Saturday (Sunday Closed)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

How Throwing Out Your Private Documents Into The Dumpster Is Like The Current State Of The Inernet

I know I usually cover Conversational Marketing and how companies are creating value-added conversations with their customers, but one of my great ideas was brought to the forefront when I read David Whitney's post on web 3.0 and an Open Identity Platform. Everyday we search for the next web app that can bring some more efficiency into our lives; something that both combines multiple features into one interface and makes some mundane process entertaining at the same time. Why? At the end of the day, we're all trying to save time doing the mundane stuff so we have more for the fun stuff. You take your 9-5 and add in going to the gym, walking the dog, going grocery shopping, spending time with the kids, watching the game, competing in sports, playing an instrument and so on; you get a full packed day. So what if you could go to the gym, watch the game on your iPod and spend time with the kids? Sounds nice right? Figuring out how to maximize time is everyone's goal.

How does this relate to throwing your private documents into the dumpster?

Just like throwing out documentation containing personal information, we all upload photos, post videos, blog about our work, connect with new friends, IM, email and some micro-blog. All of this information is available to EVERYONE. Just a reminder. And all of this personal information needs to be added whenever we signup for some new website. We grow tired of having to do the mundane like upload more photos, add more friends, track various news, type in more personal information and so on. Why can't I just have one profile that is portable? Let me store all my info with one provider or in my own server like Whitney states and then I'll tell you when information you can have access to. I"m tired of spewing the same information into the dumpsters of the web and not remembering which ones I put my information into and which I didn't.

Like any smart entrepreneur, I've got an idea along with a fellow entrepreneur. Stay posted, a solution is coming.