Archive of ‘Business’ category

What are you worth to Dove and how to fail getting fans

Earlier this week I came across a commercial from Dove that specifically asked people to like their Facebook page. In return for my click they offered me a €1 discount on one of their products. So, in essence they are asking me to connect my online reputation and my position in the time line of my friends to their brand. And in return? They are going to be giving me a buck. Seriously? Dove, what were you thinking? Offering a discount for linking or following might just be the ultimate way of failing on social networks. And Dove just topped that mark by stating that my loyalty to their brand and the attention of my friends is only worth a single Euro to them.

Getting followers on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or any other network of your choice is about connecting. Connecting lives with your brand. Connecting personalities, connecting friends, connecting reputation, connecting values in life. It is not about the numbers. It is not about getting as many people as possible as fast as possible. It is about connecting and creating a useful exchange. Yes, I am willing to connect to a brand. In fact, I am very interested to connect to the brands I love because they are close to my heart. But there needs to be a useful exchange. I do not care about being a number. I care about being a person in contact with you. With your brand. Share useful things with me. I am not interested in brands that are just posting little updates on their wall for me to discover in my timeline. I am interested in brands that want to communicate to ME. Personally. To show me things that I am interested in. Things that I care to share. Reasons why I want to be part of the circle around them.

A simple lesson emerges from this. People who come in for a €1 discount are not really interested in you. They are interested in buying your product at bargain prices. Those are not the customers you are looking for. And people who love your brand will not come in on a discount offering as they feel you are not appreciating them, offering them a mere euro instead of a meaningful relationship.

If you were thinking of taking this approach, reconsider. Fast. And read my blogpost on stories and personal relationships.

A marketing campaign will not make Windows Phone succeed

At the end of March, Nokia will launch their new Nokia Ace in the US. And rumor has it that the launch will be accompanied by a great marketing campaign that will run in the neighborhood of $100 million. I just read this on BetaNews. An interesting article that goes on to state that Microsoft needs a hero in the Windows Phone stakes. However, the statement leaves me wondering what their campaign will be on.

I am a firm believer that people want to buy a mobile device that is easy to use and gives them the features they want, for the price they want it at. Almost every day I have people ask me what phone they should buy and how their phone can help them do what they want. And unanimously they ask whether to buy Android or iPhone. I never get asked the question for Windows Phone. Nobody asks me the same about Blackberry either, because you either want one for Blackberry messenger or you are stuck with one as your company phone.

Will a $100 million marketing campaign solve this problem? Hardly. Few people choose their phones on the commercials they have seen or the billboards they drove past. They do choose their phones on what their friends are using and the ease it seems to give them. I agree with Robert Scoble when he responds to Charlie Kindle’s post on why WP7 has not taken off. Through its users, Android and iOS both show they are safe choices. People around you use them. Of all the people I have met over the past three weeks, I have only met one with a Nokia Lumia. One. Hardly a match for the people that have told me about their new iPhone 4S or Android phone.

I am afraid the $100 million might just vaporize on the way to selling a phone. Back in 2007 the launch of the iPhone changed the mobile phone landscape. Back in 2009, carriers were still longing for a good iPhone competitor to offer their customers. Now, in 2012 we have it all. Back in 2007, developers were eager to jump the bandwagon to build their coolest ideas into iOS apps. Now, few startups even see Windows Phone or Blackberry as a viable market. So they develop for iOS and Android only.
I am assuming Microsoft is launching a ‘regular’ marketing campaign with Nokia and AT&T in which they will be targeting consumers to buy the Nokia Ace. What happens is that we get into a circle of people waiting for each other and no phones being sold. Because the consumers will only change to Windows Phone when their favorite apps are running on WP and developers will not be eager to do WP development unless WP reaches enough critical mass to make it worth their while.

Solution? Take a good chunk of that budget and target developers, startups and innovators. To port their existing apps to WP, but also to develop cool new apps that will be exclusive to WP for now. I firmly believe there is a market for WP. However, you need to know where it is to be able to benefit from it. For now, WP phones will mainly be bought by companies to replace their older Windows Mobile devices. A device management issue. But startups can make the most of this by launching themselves specifically geared to business development. There is enough to do in that market still and there is money to sell your apps. And making that work will show other developers that WP might be a financial goldmine waiting for them.

In essence? Spending $100 million on marketing is not going to cut it. It needs to be spent on the eco system that will allow your customer to do what they want with your product. Only then will you be making progress.

Be inspiring – Do you ask the right questions?

Half the internet world talked about the passing of Steve Jobs. There is a lot that can be said about him, but most people agree that he has had a profound influence on the technology we use today. I have never met him in person -and I bet most others that wrote about him never did either. However, through articles I have read about him, I got the feeling that he was a person who knew how to ask the right questions at the right time.

Asking the right questions at the right time can be confronting. But more often, it will inspire people to look at things in a different way. And in turn, that will result in revelations which lead to great products and satisfied customers.

Do you ask the right questions? Do you have a vision you stick to? Do you have a plan to lead your organisation/company/startup to success?

Do you ask the right questions to trigger your customers? Do you help them to reach their goals? To set out together with you to achieve what they have focussed on?

Asking the right questions at the right time in the right way will help you be successful. Whether it is in leading your company or selling your products.

Amazon launches Kindle Fire

Everyone has been talking about the tablet market. Especially about the prices of tablets. Ever since HP decided to pull out of the market and dumped its discontinued tablet with its discontinued OS, it became clear that price is a much bigger hurdle for buyers than most expected. Enter Jeff Bezos and the new Amazon Kindle Fire. A $199 tablet that could be the biggest change to the tablet market since the introduction of the iPad.

The Kindle Fire has been based on the hardware of the RIM Playbook, but with Amazon’s own Android based operating system that seems more than enough to offer a good user experience. Obviously I have not had my hands on one the people who have, seem to be pleased with it. A good reason might be that Amazon firmly believes that everything you use on the tablet you should be able to use from the cloud. And that makes the 8Gb storage limit much more believable and practical.

Lets be honest, the biggest thing in the Kindle Fire launch is the new Silk browser. the Silk browser is a new angle that Amazon is taking with their Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2). They already offered the power and storage of their servers to startups and anyone who wanted to take an advantage of their speed. But now they are offering it to everyone through the Silk browser.

The Silk browser helps you access webpages smoother and quicker than other tablets. Why? Well, basically because you do not browse the web yourself, but Amazon’s EC2 does it for you. You send out the request and EC2 gets the page and repackages it into something a lot simpler and easier to load for your Kindle Fire. And as you will be browsing pages that others browse as well, those pages can be served faster than you would get them from a conventional browser.

However, there is a downside to Silk. And that is called EC2. That is, if you value your privacy. There is a reason why Amazon offers the Kindle Fire at $199. It is called sponsorship. Because Amazon is going to learn endlessly more from your tablet than any kind of customer research can teach them. They will go with you on your surfing trips, your trips to find the best deals, your trips to relate to your social networks and everywhere else. And it will do it in the nicest way possible. So, Google, where does your chromebook stand now?

In all honesty, the Kindle Fire is a nice tablet. It looks nice, seems to be fast enough and with Amazon’s appstore for Android you have all the possibilities you get on tablets twice the price. The Kindle Fire is going to have a pretty big impact on the tablet market. Here’s for hoping there will be EC2 privacy settings.

How Facebook killed the “like” button and introduces a new marketing challenge

The like button has only been around for about a year. Just a year. And look what it has done. It has brought over us a storm of people asking us to click that button for their sake. It has brought us services that have included their own version of the like button like G+, +K etc. It has brought us endless buttons that are published for the sole reason of sharing a story somewhere on a timeline in your social universe. And now Facebook has come and taken it all away again. And that is a good thing.

To be honest, if you are a marketeer and your metrics consist of measuring your Twitter followers and your Facebook likes, you might as well use the weather report to assess your business success on social media. Though this might sound a bit strong, that is the truth. Neither of these figures tell you anything about your position in social media. The trouble is that neither of these figures shows whether there is a relationship. You can have a million followers on twitter and nobody who is actively engaged with you. The same goes for your Facebook likes. They might not have anything to do with the engagement of your customers. One of the reasons people would have to like you, would be to be able to post to your wall. Facebook has announced that this will change and that non-fans will be able to post to your wall soon.

Recent surveys show that people only “like” about 10 brands on Facebook. This means that not even all of your fans will be liking your page. As a matter of fact, I own and use a number of Apple products but I have never liked Apple on Facebook. And I bet you can look around your house and say the same thing about a lot of brands you use daily. On the other hand, liking has never been and never will be the basis of conversion. Your competitor with less than 1% of your likes might have built a very engaged community which might quadruple his conversion rate over yours.

The new social graph approach with frictionless sharing (automatic sharing of your ativities) and a redesigned timeline will make sure that your community will not be seeing as much of you as you might have wanted. And their network might not come across you at all. With the recent addition of the ticker for less important and quicker news, we see that most branded content ends up in the ticker and scrolls off the screen within seconds for more active users. There goes your like-button strategy.

Marketeers, just like anyone else on social networks, need to go back to the basics. What is the best way to engage with my audience? How can I connect to them on a personal and relevant level. How can I make sure that I help my target audience reach their goals. And how and when can I communicate with them on a personal level, so I do not interfere with, but add to their experience. If you are a marketeer for a company, whether you are small business or working for a multinational corporation, you need to let go of everything that you have learned about mass communication. You need to look at your target audience and just ask yourself one simple question; How can I relate to all these people in the most personal and relevant manner? If you can answer that question right, you are on your way to social media success. Especially on the new Facebook.

Can you tell us why you are leaving?

What could we have done to keep you as a customerA couple of weeks ago, I decided to say goodbye to Vodafone and switch to Dutch mobile provider Telfort. And with good reason. Or at least, that is my opinion. This week I got a questionnaire from Vodafone asking me why I was leaving them.

In essence that is a great move. Someone leaves you as a customer and you want to know why, so you ask them. However, what is my trigger to fill out the questionnaire? In this case, the only thing mentioned in the email announcing the questionnaire, was that all the answers will be kept confidential. As if that is of any concern to me. In fact, I am telling everyone who wants to know that I am leaving Vodafone and why. And the interesting part of this is that it is not even about the price. It is about my customer experience.

So, yes, my new Telfort subscription is cheaper and has the same network quality. But what triggered me to change providers is the way Vodafone treated me over the past months. In the past I have had my trouble with Vodafone, but usually their customer service solved the problems. Until now. A couple of months ago the Dutch providers have jumped the data train. Whatever was possible before isn’t anymore. Unlimited internet subscriptions are turned into limited versions while prices are multiplied. And if it remains unlimited, the speed drops down after a set amount of traffic. Annoying to say the least. So, I approached Vodafone Special Services (yes, a couple of years ago they told me I was a valued customer) to ask them whether they could give me my average data usage over the past couple of months. And then it went silent. I asked again and it stayed silent. I the end, I got an offer from another party to switch to their network. So, I called regular customer service and during our conversation on the length of my subscription, they told me that they could just give me the figure for the last three months. Apparently Special Services no longer thought I was a valued customer as nobody responded even though every customer service employee can see the answer to my question with a single click.

Was I unhappy with Vodafone in general? No. Over the past seven years I have been very happy about their services. However, if I spend around €1200 with you every year, I would at least expect the courtesy of answering a simple question. In the questionnaire they also asked me whether I was approached personally with an offer and whether that would have changed my choice. That is hardly a question. Of course it would have helped if someone would have contacted me and talked with me about my personal needs in mobile communications and how they could match that. And a good offer could have kept me with Vodafone. That call would at least have shown me that my relationship with Vodafone was a two way street. Now the feeling remained that my relationship with Vodafone depended on me. My money, my effort, my enthusiasm.

If a client leaves you, it is great to ask them why they are leaving. You can learn from it. However, it is much better to keep your customer from leaving you. Talk to them before they leave. Answer their questions. Show them that you value the relationship with them as well. That is not hard to do. Most people are quite happy with a call or a personal message. If you run a subscription service, make sure you contact your customers in time, to see whether there are better solutions you can offer. Your relationship with your customer is much more important to them than the actual price of the subscription. Because the perceived value is different.

Praktisch LinkedIn gebruiken voor ondernemers

Gisteren mocht ik voor de Zeeuwse netwerkclub Fun In Business spreken over het praktisch inzetten van LinkedIn. Net als bij de meeste andere sociale netwerken leeft ook over LinkedIn vaak de vraag hoe het direct wat op kan leveren voor je bedrijf. De essentie van die vraag zit, zoals altijd, in het stellen van duidelijke doelen en het richten op een duidelijke doelgroep. Daarnaast heb je natuurlijk de technische mogelijkheden die LinkedIn je biedt om je te profileren en zakelijk te netwerken.

Hieronder staat de presentatie die ik gisteren gegeven heb. Allereerst ga ik in op het inrichten van een effectief profiel. Daarna kijken we naar de mogelijkheden om je te profileren door het gebruik van LinkedIn Answers, de bedrijfspagina en natuurlijk de groepen. Ook komen er een aantal handige tips voorbij voor het starten van je eigen groep. Na het profileren kijken we naar acquisitie via LinkedIn. Er zijn veel mogelijkheden, maar ook veel verkeerde benaderingen. Er komen weer een aantal nuttige tips voorbij. Uiteraard mag op een avond over LinkedIn het onderdeel werving en selectie niet ontbreken. Ook daarvoor heb ik 15 tips in de presentatie gezet. Afsluitend kijk ik dan nog even naar een paar tools die het gebruik van LinkedIn leuk maken. Daarvoor licht ik er twee functies uit LinkedInLabs uit, maar ook de nieuwe startup Vizualize.me. (Kijk naar mijn eigen Vizualize.me profiel.)

Natuurlijk is de presentatie maar de helft van het verhaal. Voel je vrij om de presentatie te bekijken en de delen met anderen. Wil je het geluid bij de presentatie hebben, neem dan contact met mij op. Ik kom graag eens bij je langs om te vertellen wat de impact van LinkedIn, maar ook van andere sociale netwerken kan zijn op jouw bedrijf.

Customer happiness is in your attitude

How often do you check the satisfaction of your customers? Do you dare to offer them the guarantee that whatever their problem is, you will solve it? You should. And this is why.

The other day I ordered an arm strap for my Nexus S from eBay.com so I can take it along when running. As a European, ordering from an American site to take delivery from something from Hongkong might seem to be a potential nightmare for both seller as well as buyer. But then my strap included a message from my eBay seller. My seller requested that I would give him five stars. You might think that is a bit too much. But the lines after that were what made the message so important. Regardless of what my problems were, my seller promised me that he would solve any problems I would have with the item he had shipped to me. His attitude to get a five star rating was that he did not want my user experience to be anything but those five stars.

So, when was the last time you asked your customer whether they were satisfied with the product you provided them with? Make it a point of your business to ask that question. Make sure you ask that question to anyone and everyone. Because their feedback will make sure you achieve no less than five star experiences for every single client you have. Will there be problems to solve? Of course, but the right solution will win you ambassadors instead of clients. And they bring in new clients to become ambassadors.

Love your customers, pro-actively

You can run a good business and offer great customer service. That will make your customers love you. However, they are basing their love for you on how you solved a negative situation. There is no argument about whether this works. Because it does. People enjoy a good solution and they will share it with their friends.

There still is an issue though. Every story will start with where it went wrong and they had to ask you for a solution. You can not rule out problems altogether. After all, we are all human, so we make mistakes. But try to be ahead of your customer. Be pro active about it. Talk to them as soon as you notice the problem, even though they haven’t said anything about it. Tell them what went wrong, how much you regret it and offer them a solution.

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend at a great restaurant near the beach. My friend ordered the fish salad. After all, we were looking at the sea. During our lunch she noticed a piece of plastic in the salad. She didn’t make a fuss about it, moved it to the side and finished the salad. Some time after, we asked for the bill and when it was brought, the waiter told us that he was sorry to see that we had the piece of plastic in the salad. He told us that he had ordered the cook to throw out the rest of that batch of fish and as an extra he gave us a ten percent discount on the bill. As you can imagine, we left the place more than satisfied and happy to eat there again. And over time, what will remain will be the gesture of the business, not the plastic. Because we never thought that was much of a problem anyway.

Be pro active. When something happens that you would consider to be a problem, solve it. Solve it before your customer makes a problem out of it. That will make you a winner with that customer. And with every friend he will tell it to.

Apple’s App Store; a briliant way to get nothing?

Ok, I admit, this is a personal frustration. But personal is the way of the web these days. And in fact, I know there are many more that have faced the same problems. Just browsing Twitter on #Lion and #Lionfail show enough of that.

So, what am I talking about? It is about buying a larger software package through the App Store. To be honest, I I haven’t used the App Store much to buy software. However, I did buy a couple of apps for Mac. None of them were very big, but functional enough. However, yesterday I decided to take the plunge and purchase Lion. The first time ever for me to purchase an operating system that did not come with DVD’s. Yes, I even bought Snow Leopard on DVD.

Apple’s idea is that everything can be updated through a simple process of downloading. But at 3,5 Gb there are risks. In the good old days of the internet downloading had its risks. You would avoid bigger http downloads choosing other alternatives. A little later we got downloaders that could resume the download. You would expect Apple to at least incorporate some of that technology. However, after my seventh attempt at downloading Lion, I long back to the days of booklets and DVD’s. Yesterday I tried it five times and every time the download got stuck on ‘waiting’. This mornings’ three attempts all stranded in ‘unable to reach the server’.

Offering a new cloud based service is great. Honest. But as one of the worlds’ leading technology companies Apple might have been able to create a better experience. Or not? Is this the new Apple strategy? Is the waiting and the failing downloads Apple’s online equivalent of newly released products being out of stock after lining up at the store for hours? Either way, as a customer I feel insulted. I get pulled in to make an effort to purchase a product and then I get nothing. Well, I get the bill. Because that part is sorted by Apple. As soon as I click the “buy now” button, it charges my credit card. And the rest is up to my own patience. Apparently.

Je fans zijn jouw goud

Dit is nog ouder dan de weg naar Rome. Mensen verbinden zich graag aan iemand of aan iets. Deze mensen zijn je fans. Dat geldt voor producten net zo goed als voor mensen. Jouw fans geven om je. Ze zijn loyaal en volgen wat je doet op de voet. Ze houden van je en willen graag die relatie met je onderhouden. Soms schrijven ze je, mailen ze, vullen ze formulieren in, of klikken ze op je Like buttons. Maar bovenal relateren ze alles wat ze in dezelfde branche zien aan jou. Jij bent hun maatstaf. Jij vertegenwoordigt kwaliteit voor ze, je vertegenwoordigt waar voor je geld, je vertegenwoordigt het goede gevoel dat ze van je krijgen. Maar wat doe jij?

Social media verandert de maatschappij. Langzaam, maar zeker. Ik geloof dat voor iedereen het gebruik van social media net zo gewoon zal worden als de mobiele telefoon nu. In de komende tijd zal de manier waarop mensen communicatie ervaren ook gaan veranderen. Zeker als we het hebben over corporate communicatie waarbij het gaat om merken, producten en diensten. Langzamerhand raken mensen gewend aan de persoonlijke aanpak. De verantwoordelijkheid ligt hier dan ook bij de communicerende organisaties om hier op in te springen.

Gisteren kreeg ik mail. Een mail van een merk waar ik stiekem nog steeds fan van ben. Ik heb al een aardige berg Nokia’s versleten en tot de iPhone kwam, keek ik niet eens naar een andere telefoon. Toen werd ik verleid door iOS en heb inmiddels ook een Android toestel. Maar toch volg ik Nokia nog steeds. Toen ik een mailtje kreeg om de nieuwe C6-01 te testen, leek me dat dan ook wel leuk. Ik las door het onpersoonlijke mailtje heen en besloot toch het formuliertje maar in te vullen. Want mijn interesse voor het merk won het nipt. En daarna werd het stil. Heel stil. Nu, bijna drie weken later, ontvang ik een mailtje met een euforische titel. De testers zijn bekend. En ik ben het niet. Natuurlijk vind ik dat jammer. Ik heb er moeite in gestoken. Maar wat mij nog meer steekt, is dat Nokia het niet eens nodig vindt om mijn naam te gebruiken in het mailtje. Of iets anders persoonlijks. Het begint met ‘Beste,’ en daarna gaat het bergaf. Het ‘beste nieuws’ dat ze me in dit mailtje geven is dat ze mijn gegevens hebben bewaard. En dat ze me misschien ooit opnieuw zullen gaan vragen om zo’n zelfde formuliertje in te vullen. Om dan weer afgewezen te worden. Zonder naam. Ik twijfel of mijn gegevens bewaard zijn, of alleen mijn e-mail adres. Zodat ze me meer mailtjes kunnen sturen. Zonder naam en zonder gevoel.

Je fans zijn jouw goud. Zij zijn het die je merk, je product of je dienst haast op handen dragen. Zij zijn het die geld over hebben voor jouw inspanningen. Die interesse hebben in jouw hersenspinsels en die vaak bereid zijn om zelf ook tijd en moeite te steken in jouw succes. Waardeer dat, want er komt een dag waarop dat de reden van je succes zal zijn. Het zal je helpen om te groeien, om je omzet te verhogen en uit te breiden naar nieuwe doelgroepen. En het zal je helpen om hobbels glad te strijken. Hobbels die er zullen komen als er iets aan je product blijkt te schorten, de wachttijd te lang blijkt of de prijs te hoog. Maar je fans zijn je fans. Ze zijn jouw goud. Wordt fan van jouw fans. Luister naar ze, praat met ze. Zorg dat je weet wat ze beweegt en als je contact met ze zoekt, doe dat dan met hun doelen in jouw vizier. Dan blijven ze jouw fans en dragen ze je merk uit naar iedereen die ze kennen.

Don’t hide what you are doing

You are a passionate company. You do something and you do it well. Your customers are pleased with your products and you are doing well. And you ran a basic site telling about your product and how your customers can enjoy it. But as you grew, people felt you needed to become more serious. You contacted an advertising agency and they told you, you needed to restyle your site to grow and better reflect what you do.

After two months of intensive meetings, numerous designs and many changes, you are ready to launch your site. A great moment and a great step forward for your company. You strongly believe it is the right thing to do. However, when a client visits your site, they learn more about your commitment to your internal processes than they do about the products you build. They find out more about your last annual sales report and your chairman than about the service you give. It turns out your new site kills customers´ interest instead of cultivating and growing it.

Three rules for your new site:

Show your products
An open door you might think, but many sites have turned into corporate mazes. Show your products on your front page. Make it specific as well. Start with your main sellers and make other versions quickly available from your home page. The quicker people can get to their product, the more they are triggered by it.

Make yourself available
Do not hide your support, your sales services or other contact details somewhere in the seventh level of your fancy menu. Make sure it is easy to ask questions. Make sure your visitors can see how your support treats its customers. And be there. Don’t just offer a form. Offer a possibility to chat, to get called or to call your offices. Be available. It will take time, but it will deliver customers.

Facilitate their wishes
Your customers have clear ideas of what they want to be able to do. Both with your products as well as on your site. Facilitate it. You should not jump through their every hoop, but often small changes go a long way.

Just a couple of quick ideas you can benefit from. Right now, I am waiting for a parcel. If I want to see where it is right now, I need to use their track and trace option. However, that is not displayed on the home page. I need to do a search on the site, as that seems to be the only way to find it. As a customer, that is a way of working that will put me off. It means that I might choose another shipping firm next time. Make sure your customers choose you. Again. And again. And again.