Archive of ‘Business’ category

Friday Five – Five things your online project cannot do without

So, you are embarking on something new. You have just gotten that brilliant brainwave, or you are starting a new online project for your organization. Here is a list of five things that are vital to include in your project.

Friends
Whatever it is, it is better with friends. You need to keep in mind that friendships are very important to everyone. And that includes your users or potential users. It almost does not matter what your project is about, but something you need to keep in mind that your users love to do it with their friends. So, think of a way your users can involve their friends in what the are doing at your place. And make it easy to include them. Connecting to a platform where people already are in touch with their friends makes it much easier for them to include their friends in your project. So, connect to Twitter, Facebook, a google account and that will make interaction much easier.

Mobile
Over a third of internet traffic currently is mobile in one way or another. That makes mobile essential to reach your target audience. Make sure your project works on mobile devices. If it is done right, it often does not involve more than templating for mobile devices. An easy step for an easy gain.

Location
Now that you have included mobile, include something to do with it. Connect your project to physical locations. You might think that is a tricky one, but many locations are already charted through Foursquare, Facebook Places, Feest.je and other location based services. Choose to do something with locations of a certain kind or to do something related to your product at a location. Yes, it might involve some creative thinking, but it is often possible.
Something else to consider is incuding geographical meta data in as many parts of your project as you can. If you are not using it today, someone else may if you allow them. Just look at the way third party data has been by people to create layers of information for augmented reality application Layar. That is something that your target audience might benefit from as well.

Achievements
People are more willing to invest in a project if there is something they can achieve. So, make sure they can. Make sure you offer a possibility to earn a status, to be part of a leaderboard competition, to allow them to make more of what they have done on your project. If nothing else, it will bring them back to your site/app/project to achieve more.

Sharing
If someone values what you do, they will share it with others. Make sure they can. And make sure they have something to share. Help them to share more than a link, but help them share a trigger for their friends, for their followers, for their contacts. Help them be ahead of others in the fields they love, so they are the first to share it with others. The lead you give them is the lead they will give you.

Good luck on your new project! I hope it will be incredibly succesful. If you have something you would want my opinion or my help on, don’t hesitate to ask.

On Fridays I post short lists of things. Things to do, things not to do. Things to change or things you should not be without. The Friday Five will reflect my personal view on many things. And as it is Friday, it can be serious, but it might not always be.

Starbucks Card mobile is nice, but could be fantastic

In January of this year, Starbucks launched its Starbucks card mobile app for the iPhone. An easy way to pay for your coffee by holding your iPhone in front of the scanner at your local Starbucks. Great thought. But why didn’t they take it a step further?

Back in 2008 I was approached by someone from Dun & Bradstreet to advice on an online strategy for a coffee company. I allowed my mind to run wild and mobile. Mobile is a great way forward for many organizations as it can connect their customer base to their products wherever they are. This can be especially valuable if you run a chain of stores. Starbucks currently only utilizes that one aspect of the mobile opportunity. But it should not stop at that.

If you are into highly customizable products such as coffee, there are endless opportunities to involve people in their process. Granted, this might be a bit too complicated for Starbucks as they run a range of standard products, but for any other coffee company this can be a key to beating Starbucks at their game. Imagine being able to choose your coffee on the way in to the store. You can choose one of the standard products, but you can also to select the exact blend for your coffee from selection of beans and additions at the store. You can then name that blend and save it to rate it as you drink your coffee. These new ‘custom’ coffee’s can be shared with your friends and you might decide that you want to have ‘one of what they are having’. That creates a whole new way of being involved with your store, your favorite drink and your friends. As a coffee company you might even be interested in promoting the top ten UGC’s (User Generated Coffee’s).

Regardless of whether you are offering the custom coffee creator (above), you could easily create an environment where people can share a coffee with someone else. If you use custom coffee’s, you can ‘give‘ someone a coffee of your latest and greatest blend through the app. Look at it as a very personal gift from your taste buds to your friends‘ morning experience. Just by the touch of a virtual button you pay for their warm wakeup. I am amazed that Starbucks has missed out on this opportunity. Or the opportunity to share your credits with others so that they can pick up a coffee for you on their way into the office. Something that could solve the small change problems at the office.

I see a great future for the chain who would be willing to implement an app which can do the things I mentioned above. And if you are the coffee company that dares, feel free to contact me so I can help you go mobile.

Honesty closes the deal

We have all been there. The question. Not just any question, but the question you knew you didn’t have an answer to. Then it happened. You answered the question. For whatever reason you felt forced to answer the question. You satisfied your customer and went on your way. Weeks later, you got a call. Either from the customer, a colleague or even your manager. The customer came back on your answer.

This has put you in a difficult position. Even though the real answer would have been so easy. Honesty is the greatest answer anyone can give. Tell the customer you do not know at the moment, but that you will get back on it. And if it is vital, get in touch with the people who know there and then. You will find out that customers will give you the space you need to make that call, just to be able to answer their question without doubts. Personally, I have been in that situation. The great realization for me came when I found out that I closed more deals where I would make the call, than when I would just give an answer I doubted even a little bit.

Honesty does not just go a long way, it closes the deal.

 

Customers are more willing than you think…

Let’s be honest, most companies go for the sale of their product and then that is it. A good company then sorts out it’s customer service, just in case a customer has something that they want you to deal with. That is usually the end of it. But your customers are worth much more. Your customers often care about the products they bought from you and use them daily. So why stop there? If you are a technology based company, over time your products will become outdated. That will annoy your customers and they will have to go and look for a new product. Great, you might think. Another sale. Well, it might be, but it might not be the easy money you thought it would be.

Over the past weeks I have been watching from the sidelines as a premium brand for audio equipment became the prey of it’s once loyal customers. The reason? The lack of firmware updates for their multi-thousand euro machines. After keeping their customers at arms’ length, the company decided to cut customer communication altogether and publicly announced that it would not discuss anything with its user base anymore. That did it for one of their loyal customer. An enthousiastic programmer by day, he spent the rest of his time figuring out their firmware and wrote his own update, incorporating the techniques found in newer, more expensive models and released it through an independent forum. Within a couple of days the manufacturer responded, dooming all users that would have the evil courage to use the updates. Within hours many disgruntled users voiced their opinion and vouched to turn away from the brand for any future purchases.

The lesson to be learned? Upon asking a number of members of the forum, it turned out that many of them would have been very willing to pay decent amounts of money to acquire an official firmware release. However, the company chose to force them to purchase new products. A strategy that seems to have lost them many very loyal customers. If only they had released a firmware update that could have been written within a working day, they would have kept their customers and raised their turnover more than they have done now. In contrast, look at Sony Ericsson, who’s X10 has received an HD camera courtesy of a software update. Now that is caring for your customers.

Twittercare, webcare of gewoon customer care

Foto door Dmitry Chertousov via Flickr

Klantenservice. Vaak de achterhoede van het klantcontact en als zodanig ook vaak de sluitpost in het sales traject. Op een gegeven moment gaat dat natuurlijk frustratie oproepen. Om die reden zien we een beweging om de klantenservice beter benaderbaar te maken. En waar kun je dat beter doen dan online? Dus hebben veel organisaties zich met nieuw enthousiasme op de webcare gestort. Een interessante ontwikkeling die zeker zijn vruchten afwerpt. Andere organisaties willen hun nek nog verder uitsteken en zijn actief geworden op Twitter.

Allemaal prima initiatieven zou je zo zeggen. Maar er schuilt een gevaar in de manier waarop de service uitgevoerd wordt. Zelf heb ik in de afgelopen maanden een aantal keer gebruik gemaakt van de klantenservice van Telfort en T-Mobile. Allereerst wil ik stellen dat ik zeer tevreden ben over de manier waarop mijn vragen opgelost zijn of in behandeling zijn genomen. Wat mij wel verbaasde is het verschil in de manier waarop gereageerd wordt. Het blijkt dat de telefonische klantenservice, de webcare en de twittercare eigenlijk drie verschillende groepen zijn binnen dezelfde organisatie. Tekenend voor beide organisaties is dat een vraag waar de telefonische klantenservice niets mee kon, door de twittercare van beide bedrijven binnen een half uur was beantwoord. Bij Telfort kon de telefoondienst de aansluiting van het internet niet versnellen, de twittercare haalde de datum binnen een kwartier twee weken naar voren. Bij T-Mobile kon zowel de winkel als de telefoondienst niets doen aan een te hoge data rekening van mijn dongle, twittercare stortte binnen een half uur het volledige bedrag terug op mijn account. Een ander mooi voorbeeld was een twittercare die mij iets beloofde dat uiteindelijk door een andere afdeling niet waargemaakt kon worden, omdat niet al mijn gegevens bij de twittercare bekend waren. Het resultaat was wel dat je je als klant bekocht voelt, omdat een betere oplossing wel geboden werd, maar niet wordt uitgevoerd.

Klantenservice is van groot belang. Klanten worden je vaker trouw door een goede afhandeling van hun problemen dan een probleemloos gebruik van je product. Wil je trouwe klanten kweken, zorg er dan voor dat je mensen actie kunnen ondernemen om je klant ook ècht te helpen. Zorg ervoor dat àl je mensen dat kunnen, ongeacht of ik dat publiek doe op Twitter, of via de anonieme telefoon. Laat de antwoorden altijd in dezelfde lijn liggen, want tegenstrijdigheid is dodelijk voor het gevoel goed geholpen te worden.

Voor een klant is het belangrijk dat er naar hem geluisterd wordt. Het is belangrijk dat het  probleem opgelost wordt. En het is belangrijk dat hem altijd dezelfde oplossing geboden wordt. Dan voelt de klant zich serieus genomen en goed geholpen. En dan wordt het een trouwe klant.

“Voor mij werkt dat niet”

“Dat is allemaal best leuk wat jij daar mee doet, maar voor mij werkt dat niet.” Een uitspraak die ik vrijwel dagelijks te horen krijg als het gaat om sociale media. Daarna volgt meestal een opsomming van oordelen die de uitspraak kracht bij moeten zetten. Als je verder gaat kijken, dan blijkt dat de meeste oordelen helemaal niet komen uit de eigen ervaring. De meeste oordelen komen van wat anderen er van denken of wat er in de krant gestaan heeft. De meeste oordelen blijken dan ook niets meer te zijn dan vooroordelen.

 

Om goed gebruik te kunnen maken van sociale media, hoef je geen bekende Nederlander te zijn. Je klanten hoeven niet allemaal gek te zijn van techniek, ze hoeven niet de hele dag online te zijn en ze hoeven ook niet jong te zijn. Je product hoeft ook niet iets bekends te zijn, of iets wat iedereen speciaal graag wil hebben. Om goed gebruik te kunnen maken van sociale media, moet je als ondernemer willen ondernemen. En ondernemen betekent in veel gevallen ook investeren. In sociale media is dat al niet anders. Als je een account aanmaakt op een site, daar een half uurtje mee zit te spelen en dan nog geen order binnen hebt, dan is dat normaal. Zo werkt dat.

 

Een paar eenvoudige stappen waardoor sociale netwerken voor iedereen kunnen werken:

Bouw een netwerk op; Zoek mensen op die je al kent en nodig ze uit om ‘vrienden‘ met je te worden.

Deel dingen met je netwerk; Investeer in de mensen in je netwerk, deel informatie met ze, doe dingen voor ze en geef antwoord op hun vragen. Zo verander je connecties in relaties.

Beantwoord vragen; Vaak is er voor leden van een netwerk een gelegenheid om vragen te stellen. Maak daar gebruik van, vooral om je expertise te laten zien aan mensen buiten je netwerk. Maak er geen reclamepraatje van, maar deel kennis. Vaak komen mensen dan later naar jou persoonlijk toe als er nieuwe dingen spelen.

Biedt iets extra’s; Binnen een netwerk is er vaak de mogelijkheid om leden iets aan te bieden. Soms is het te koppelen aan het lidmaatschap, maar soms ook aan een spelelement binnen een netwerk. Dit laatste zien we op dit moment bijvoorbeeld veel bij het inchecken via diensten als Foursquare, Feest.je etc. waar je degene die het vaakst heeft ingecheckt op jouw locatie bijvoorbeeld iets extra’s geeft. Aangezien er om die laatste categorie echt ter plaatse gestreden moet worden, zul je zien dat mensen daarvoor ook vaker gaan komen.

Hou je onderwerp in de gaten; Vaak wordt er veel meer gesproken over het onderwerp waar jij goed in bent dan dat je zelf weet. Zoek regelmatig op jouw onderwerp, zodat je weet wat er speelt en wie er over spreken. Als je wat toe kunt voegen, meng je dan in het gesprek.

Zet die extra stap; Iedereen in het sociale netwerk is jouw potentiële klant. Doe een extra stap voor ze. Al vertaalt dat niet a la minute in omzet, het wordt gewaardeerd en die waardeering zorgt uiteindelijk voor extra omzet en nieuwe klanten door de relatie die je opbouwt.

 

Social media werken voor iedereen, want iedereen gebruikt ze. Soms om ook echt toe te voegen, maar het grootste deel als lezer. Als jij wel toevoegt, dan wordt je dus door veel meer mensen gezien dan je denkt. Dat geldt ook voor de slager op de hoek. Die wekelijkse post van 10 regels op een kookforum met een nieuwe tip om iets aparts te doen met vlees, die maakt het verschil. Daar bouw je naam mee op. En die naam nemen de lezers mee naar buiten, naar hun vrienden. En die vrienden? Die komen langs. Voor vlees.

 

11 Joie de vivre – the encore

Weren’t there to be ten posts about then trends? Yes, but as with any good band there is an encore. The encore to my series on social trends is a single trend that encompasses them all. And it is called Joie de vivre.

We are entering a time when people value the joy of life and the enjoyment of life as one of their main motivators for the choices they will make. As a result, you should be looking at how you can make your brand, your product or your actions tie into the joy of life. What are the factors that make people enjoy what you have to offer. What is in it that contributes to them and their desires?

Throughout the ten trends that I have described over the past two weeks, we clearly see that line that shows how society is changing towards something that is more playful, has more freedom and focusses on the relationship between individuals and their surroundings more than ever before. And most importantly, at this moment you are holding the keys to make your organization, your product, your service or yourself a big success.

If you want to take a shot at growing your organization, your product, your service or yourself, there has never been a better time than now. You can now see, hear and feel your target audience. You can talk to them on a whole new and personal level. You can touch them at the points where they need you most, just by making sure you know what motivates them. Is that going to be easy? Not really. Is it going to deliver you the easy money you see some people talk about online? No. But what it is going to do is grow you, your organization, your product or your service. If you get this right, it will grow beyond what you have deemed possible. And you will do it with a customer base that is far more loyal to you than they ever were before. Because there is one rule that is hard to break. You don’t cheat on a friend. A friend is someone who cares for you, who helps you out and who you can always count on. The challenge in the coming years is to develop yourself into that friend. Because whether you are an organization, a product, a service or just yourself, you can be that friend to them. And the ten blogposts I wrote before are great guidelines to help you make that happen. If you can connect your organization, your product, your services and yourself to that overall trend of Joie de Vivre in the minds of your target audience, you are on the right track. And you will get your point across.

This post is part of a series on 10 social trends that can help you get your point across. For more information or a tailored advice on what could be your opportunities, get in touch on arne@arnehulstein.nl

10 Meaningful experiences

Life has changed, and so have our preferences. In the eighties and nineties we went out to ‘get a television’. The stores we did business with showed us rows of televisions and we picked the one we wanted and went home. After the turn of the century we changed and started to think of that moment when we get something as a moment that we consciously set apart for ourselves. Over the past ten years we have been growing towards the experience. The experience that should start almost the minute you think of getting something.

Now we are taking it a step further. No longer are we looking for just an experience. We are looking for a meaningful experience. We want the experience to tie into something which we value beyond the purchase, beyond the participation. We want an experience that adds to what we have decided has meaning in our lives. That is what the meaningful experiences are about.

Jack and his family have decided to go green. He has already installed a couple of solar panels on the roof of his house and has completely re-insulated the house to the latest standards. As a family they have decided that they will go organic, so they switched to a neighborhood shop that supplies them with all they need. Up until today they had two family cars and after much debate, they have decided to buy a hybrid car. This has Jack  jumping into his full size sedan to check out a couple of hybrids at local dealerships on a sunny Saturday morning. From this example we can derive a couple of things that are vital to providing a meaningful experience which will help Jack make up his mind about the choice he is about to make. Jack and his family have seen what is going on in the world, and they want to take their responsibility. A reason why they want to take that responsibility is that they feel themselves part of a community of people and the actions they take have a direct effect on the well being of the community. And realizing all the effects their actions have on society, Jack feels the choice to go green directly influences his personal integrity. There can be more things, but these are a couple of the most obvious that we can easily derive from Jack. Or from many others that are considering buying a hybrid car. The biggest put off Jack can face, is a dealership that still has its focus on traditional motoring. Large floors, chrome bars, big desks, sales people in tight suits, lots of artificial light, no plants and an emphasis on the power of the big engine. This is the dealership where Jack will find an experience that clashes with his own core values. Jack really is looking for a dealership that has lots of natural light and focuses on the values of society. A place where he feels his decision is wholeheartedly supported. Where a sales person meets with him who talks about his family, about taking trips with the family and about the latest happenings in the area. That will be the dealership where Jack will feel at home. And that will be the place where he will spend his money.

The good news about meaningful experiences is that everyone can offer them. We see it happen all around us and there is more to come. The transition supermarkets have made in the past twenty years is enormous. From a place where you came for your weekly necessities, the supermarket has become a place where you spend time shopping for the experience you will have at your table that evening. Bookstores have ceased to be a collection of thickly packed shelves, but have turned towards recreating the feelings people get over the reasons for them to read a book. A place of rest and relaxation, a place you care to share with friends and which always has something surprising in store for you if you want to. But the same could go for government agencies that you have to visit for that ‘necessary evil’ of passports, licenses etcetera. It could be so different if they would be geared towards connecting to peoples‘ reasons to be there, instead of the most efficient way of handling the process. And the great thing is that if there is a meaningful experience, people will not care if the process is not as efficient as possible. As long as it is geared towards them and their needs.

So, how about you, your product, your organization and your projects? Can you create a meaningful experience for your target audience? The best way to answer this question is to sit down and go over your offerings to see how they can connect to the core values of your audience. Because tying in to those prime motivators in the right way throughout the thought processes of your target audience is key in helping them make a choice for you.

This post is part of a series on 10 social trends that can help you get your point across. For more information or a tailored advice on what could be your opportunities, get in touch on arne@arnehulstein.nl

9 Purposeful living

More and more we see people consider the purpose of the things they are doing. The time they spend on anything is carefully measured and weighed against other things that could be done instead. It all needs to serve a purpose. And one that they can explain and justify at least to themselves if not to their friends and family as well

There is a risk that we only see this trend in the light of the searching for a things that could be associated with religion. However, even though that might be a part of it, it is not its sole focus. One of the most important balances people are trying to find is the one between their work and their private life. Another one that has been getting a lot of attention has been the balance between a consumption-oriented lifestyle against the effects that lifestyle has on everything around us. Purposeful living for many means that they ensure those balances lean towards their own preference. Unfortunately, as every balance is personal, there is no right and wrong here. However, in general we see that a good private life is valued higher these days and that people are willing to sacrifice income, status and even career options to spend time with their families or make other choices outside of the office. In the same manner, we see that there is a tendency to weigh choices partly on the effect they will have on what is around us. The environment being an obvious example of this, where it is getting less and less appreciated to buy the biggest car possible, but it is appreciated to buy a model which uses less fuel and has a lower impact on its surroundings. Those are the obvious balances, but they are not the only ones by far.
Does your organization or your product need to fit one of these balances? Do you need to get out of your way to make sure you do? Well, not really. The thing is that you probably already fit right into a balance which people use to measure their choices. The only thing you need to do is to determine what that balance is and what the other options are. From there goes the route to demonstrate on what side of the balance you are and how a choice for you benefits your audience. This is going to be your best approach to reach the people who are considering your product, services or projects.

Danny is a highly sought after technician. He has skills that enable him to do things with electronics that few other technicians can. He enjoys his work and loves to exceed the expectations of his clients when dealing with their problems. As a result, Danny is one of the best employees his boss has got. Whatever the problem, he knows that when he sends Danny, it always gets sorted and well within the time set by the planning office. Danny loves his sports. He has been playing football for as long as he can remember. He was always one of the first ones to be picked at school and still is a team leader for his own team and coaches two junior teams. At the football club everybody loves Danny. He has his heart in the right place and is always there for the club and the people around the club. So far, this is the story of my or your neighbor. Where it gets interesting is when we look at Danny’s boss. Danny just met Jamie and they are getting serious, so Danny wants to be able to spend more time with her. But he does not want to give up on his commitment to the club. However, he has always done at least 60 hour workweeks for his boss, because he loved his job. So Danny turns to his boss and tells him that he is no longer going to do the extra work and that he would love to be able to work more flexible hours with more personal responsibility. That hits the boss hard. Danny is his most profitable employee. Without the extra hours, the profit ratio of the company is going to go down. There are now two options. One would be to refuse and to try to get Danny to still do the extra hours with a tighter control on what he delivers in what timespan. This tips the balance towards work, something we know Danny is not going to like. The other would be to agree and give Danny the freedom he asks for. In this situation, choosing the latter option will prove the best. This tips the balance towards Danny’s private life which he will appreciate a lot. And in reality we often see that when a balance gets tipped towards the side we prefer, that the results are unexpected. In this kind of case it has been shown that often productivity goes up. That means that it could well be that after two months the boss finds out that Danny has done more work in less time than he did before, making the company equally profitable.

Remember Alice of the city council? She set up a community for people to help solve other people’s problems. Getting people to commit time to this project has always been hard. The main reason for this has been that it has always been shown as something you only do for the other person. In her project the balance was always favoring the other and showing no benefit for the participant. Now that she has that established, she can see that she needs to change the proposition. She needs to show that there is a balance in the community. That by contributing to the solutions for others, you contribute to solutions for your own problems as well.

For your product, your service, your projects or your organization it is just the same. Find out what you are about and what kind of balances you fit into. Then find the one that matches your target audience most and how you tip the balance for them. You might want to rephrase what you do to show them clearly that you can tip the balance in their favor.

This post is part of a series on 10 social trends that can help you get your point across. For more information or a tailored advice on what could be your opportunities, get in touch on arne@arnehulstein.nl

8 Personally tailored

Not  that long ago, people were pleasantly surprised to receive a letter from your organization which had their name in the header. In fact, just yesterday I saw a huge ad for a postal service which is able to print a personal letterhead on the mail you send to your client and they claimed that everyone would love it. Well, to be honest, they do not. Not anymore. We have gone past the stage where we loved getting something with just our name on it. What we want now, is something that is specifically tailored for us, in our situation at the time when I would receive it.

Some organizations say that we are just spoilt. That we have been given so much, that we are rarely satisfied with what they send out to us. However, the real question is whether it is us that are spoilt, or whether it was them. We only have to go fifteen years back in time to be back at a time when companies did not need to personalize their offerings to their customers. You either bought it, or you did not. And there were plenty of consumers around to make that a viable options. Now, the tables have turned and the consumers are the ones saying: “you either sell it, or you do not”. And then they are all too willing to demonstrate that there is a new balance where there is such a big number of trustworthy suppliers, that they are the ones choosing the supplier that matches their requirements best.

As a supplier, that puts you in an awkward spot. Or so it seems. But that is not necessarily true. In fact, as a supplier you have a wealth of knowledge about your target audience. And this does not only apply to products, it applies to projects and services just as well. Another great thing is that even if you do not have any data on the people you are trying to reach, there is a wealth of data out that that is readily available to you. Where in the past we could only enlist the help of organizations that would sell us addresses, there are many more possibilities now. One of the biggest changes that we have seen in this matter is the acceptance of social media into the mainstream. And the uninhibited nature with which people use these social media. However, their use creates opportunities as well as obligations if you want to reach out to someone. As a general rule of thumb, you can say that the more open people are online, the more personal and informed they are expecting you to be. It asks a pro-active role from the supplier reaching out to them because they expect you to know what they are looking for. And this ‘knowing’ has to go beyond just knowing they are looking to fulfill a certain need and just pasting in a general email you have sent to hundreds of others that might have had that same need. It means they are looking for you to send them an offer that is tailored to their needs at that time and that fits within their expectations of how they should be approached.

As an example, John is looking for a new car. He has been sharing with his friends on Facebook that he had just bought a new bass guitar and amp and speakers to use when touring with his band. In other updates, John has shown that he has a girlfriend and that they love to go climbing out in the mountains near to where they live. A quick look at John’s profile page also shows that he is the owner of a business that sells security systems to owners of large estates. As John’s old car failed him spectacularly and unexpected, he has now posted an update on Facebook saying that he now needs to shop for a new car, but has not got the time, nor a very large budget. Where it goes wrong is where a salesman then goes and sends John a message for a nice second hand Ford Ka which is low in price, but does nothing for any of John’s other criteria. The winner will be the one who will come up with a car that looks sporty and representative, has room for all John’s equipment and does not break the bank. Miss out on any of these qualities and you are guaranteed not to make a sale. And if in doubt, see if you know John well enough to call him to discuss what you have on offer and how that would fit his situation. The more personal, the better.

A key in this trend will lie with the company that will come up with the technology to combine an extensive CRM system with social media monitoring and a clear analysis of what has been posted online. This will be where deals will be won or lost. The organization that can present its employees with a complete analysis of the situation of their target audience will be the one that is most able to answer the questions of their target audience in a satisfying way. And the organization that offers the best fit is often the one that is chosen over others.As an aside, personalization does not need to find its roots in knowledge you gather online. It can be obtained from offline sources as well. But the key to success in this trend is getting the balance right for what you are offering.

Another factor that you need to keep in mind is the goals you are trying to reach with what you are sending out. As an example, a fashion brand wants to let their target audience know that the new summer collection is out. Their normal approach to doing this would be to have a photo shoot, then pick a photo and send that out to all their customers through the mail. However, you can imagine that the clothes in the picture are not to everyone’s liking. This fashion brand has stores all over the world, but they also have a web store that you can buy their fashion at. As a result, the mail addresses they have gathered over the years are usually connected to a profile in the shop. A simple analysis will show the kind of clothes people usually buy and perhaps even the colors that they tend to choose. This information can then be used to split the receivers of the mail into a number of groups, for which separate pictures can be sent out. These pictures reflect the taste of the receiver much more and as a result will trigger them much more to take a look at the web shop and make their first purchase.

In general we see that the more personal an offer is made, the better it will be received. The key to making that best offer really comes down to gathering the right information at the right time to make that offer.

This post is part of a series on 10 social trends that can help you get your point across. For more information or a tailored advice on what could be your opportunities, get in touch on arne@arnehulstein.nl

7 Doing it together

Doing it together is the new way to be individualistic as a brand or organization. People love to be a part of something that values their input. More and more they collaborate online with others to make things happen. This is a trend that we also find in terms as co-creation, co-design, co-working and anything else that “co-” can be added to.
Doing something together has always been important to people. In the current trend we see that they want to be part of some kind of together that values their personality, their input and ultimately their presence. And once they have found that group within their own interests, they are willing to invest time, money and knowledge to achieve something that they would not be able to achieve on their own. As an organization, this trend can be of incredible value to you.

There is a fair chance that you have heard this already. Co-creating with your target audience is a great way to get people involved. And once people are involved they want to share it with their friends, their family and anyone else they think can benefit from their experience. Besides the huge network that is reachable through such an initiative, it is also a great way to tap the brains of your target audience, which allows you to learn about their preferences, the way they use your products, the way in which they value you and many other things. All those things you previously hired market research companies for is now available to you, right where you want it. On your own doorstep, connected to your own project.

However, the big question for many people remains how they can apply these principles to whatever it is they are doing. And lack of knowledge has given birth to many different excuses. “Our company does not have an online focus, and co-creation is always based around something online.” Or: “You have to be an expert to create a product like ours, our users don’t really understand what is behind what we do.” And an even worse excuse I overheard at a government agency: “People are not interested in what we want to achieve. So co-anything does not interest me as we just initiate our own projects and the general public just has to deal with it by the time it is finished.” However, these excuses really miss the point. Doing it together can be much bigger than the excuses you can come up with. And once you see that, you can think of how you can facilitate the process. Your product might be too complicated for your users to design. But your users will have very clear ideas of what they would like your new product to be. At that point you can easily add a technician from your organization to translate the wishes of the participants into something that can be used to create a product.

Doing it together does not have to lead to a physical product. It can be used for anything. It is about getting people together to work towards a single goal. Whether or not that goal has to be set by you is another question that you might want to ask yourself. If you are operating in the public domain, as a government agency for instance, it could be that your ultimate success lies in having people define their own goal and then facilitating them to gather people around that goal. And at some point they will look at you in the execution stages of the project, or they might even take that in their own hands. That all depends on how you facilitate and encourage them to be successful in reaching the goal they have set.

As a rule of thumb, remember that regardless of what you do, this is a trend that will allow you to grow your organization with knowledge, time, network reach and sometimes even funds that would not have been available otherwise. And as a second thing, give your target audience the credit they deserve. This means that yes, they will be able to help you achieve great things through their passion for what you are doing.

This post is part of a series on 10 social trends that can help you get your point across. For more information or a tailored advice on what could be your opportunities, get in touch on arne@arnehulstein.nl

5 Passion and craftsmanship

Another trend we currently see is the appreciation of passion and craftsmanship. This appreciation has been slowly on the rise. This also is the trend that has been the driving force behind sites like Etsy.com. Etsy is a great example of people creating something based on their abilities. It often results in unique products that are handcrafted and focused on a smaller audience. An audience that is willing to spend more on a product to obtain something that is unique and that has an attention to detail that surpasses that of mass produced items.

The same goes for every other product or service. More and more we see that people are willing to spend that little extra on a product that displays a passion for the product by its maker. And this trend is not limited to specialized products. This can go for anything. Whether you mend bikes at your local workshop, give financial advise as an accountant or want to address aggression in a bad neighborhood. Regardless of what it is you are offering to your target audience, they will all appreciate the fact that you have a passion for what you are doing. And they will appreciate that passion. More and more, people choose for a passionate producer, a passionate person, a passionate goal. And that makes your audience willing to put in more effort from their side for the same reason.

So, how do you translate this trend into something practical for your organization or your product? The good thing is that it does not require a complete rethink of your organization. What it does require is attention to what you are doing, how you are doing it and why. After all, making the most of this trend means that your product, service or project needs to ooze passion. The best way to get to that stage is to ask yourself what you are doing what you do. Is it because it was convenient, or because you care about what you are doing. If you cannot point to a reason why you love to get to work in the morning, you need to sit down and find out what part of what you do you can change to get to that stage. Sometimes it only requires minimal change. Or even just refocusing on a part of the work you do that you really are enthusiastic about. When you can focus on that enthusiasm, you will be able to translate that into passion and that passion will be translated into a better product, a better process and a better service.

Moving back to the motorcycle manufacturer I used as an example a couple of days ago. The bike was beautiful. It was well crafted. You could see it was special just by the way they did the welds, the custom frame, the suede seat and the airbrush on the side of the bike. However, the bike was sitting the wrong way around on a small square block that was painted with wall paint underneath a less than glamorous banner. You could see the passion and craftsmanship in the bike, but it did not impress because the surroundings completely took the attention away from the bike towards the less than passionate presentation. A real shame. So, keep in mind that the way you radiate passion and craftsmanship is only as good as the weakest moment you have in your presentation. Go over it. Pay attention to the details. Even the details that you would think would never pull the attention away from the product itself. Because it will. Passion is in packaging with attention to detail and showing off that you care about every little part of your product or service.

This post is part of a series on 10 social trends that can help you get your point across. For more information or a tailored advice on what could be your opportunities, get in touch on arne@arnehulstein.nl