Customer loyalty secret: Treat your customers like babies

We hear it all the time treat your business like a baby. And I get it—nurture it, love it, help it grow. But really, for true success, you should treat your customers like babies.

Think of all the lessons we learn from infants, from caring for infants. I’ve laid out just a few to show how you can use these lessons to keep your customers coming back.

True for babies, true for customers:

1. Assume that once you’re out of view, they will forget you. One of the things we learn about child development is that infants think you’re gone forever once you leave the room. Guess what? Once you’re out of view, your customers forget you too.

Your job is to give them a good reason—or reasons—to remember you. Excellent customer service does this. Don’t let your relationship end when they walk out the door. Get their contact information, know how they like to be contacted, and follow up in a meaningful way.

2. Act like you don’t smell the dirty diaper. Sometimes your baby smells bad, and you want to keep them at arm’s length. But you love them and want to comfort them, so you still hold them close. Your customers have flaws too, like every human. It can be tempting to point out those flaws or use them as an excuse to send your customer away. But don’t.

Instead, see problems as opportunities. Talk to your customers. Listen to them. Watch their body language and take in everything you possibly can. Then, you’ll be able to give them solutions to the problems they’ve told you about and ones they may not even know they have.

Sometimes, your angriest customers only need someone to listen to them. You may not be able to do anything. But if you care and listen and do what you can, your customer often leaves feeling good about you again. And that’s what they’ll tell their friends.

3. Make sure the people you hire to help take care of them treat them the way you would. You do your homework, you hire who you think is best. But, a glowing resume doesn’t necessarily translate into golden behavior. As a general rule though, if you treat your employees well and train them well, they will treat your customers well. And that leads to success. Don’t just take my word for it, check out Zappos and Tony Hsieh.

4. If you can’t help them, send them to someone who can. As a parent, you know you can’t always help your kids. Sometimes you have to bring in an expert. The same is true for companies and customers.

I love a company that’s honest enough to admit when your request goes beyond their expertise. I love a company even more when they refer me to someone else who can help me. I will be loyal to that company because they have shown me that they are honest and they put my needs first.

Your customers are your business. Treat your customers with the same love and care you’d give your infants, and you’ll see your customer loyalty thrive.

I could go on and on, but there’s a ton of information out there to help you improve your customer relationships. The key is you have to care.

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Check out these blogs. I came across them while writing my post: Instigator Blog, Actus Blog, Zappos CEO & COO blog, and Re: Focus blog (and I swear we wrote about a similar topic this week purely by coincidence).

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March Madness marketing

Life in a corporate marketing department is not always as exciting and creative as the people working in it would like it to be. So, how can you keep your marketing team out of a rut?

Take a cue from the NCAA’s March Madness.

The first night of games drew a TV audience of 10.3 million. This after a regular season that averaged 482,000 viewers a game (on ESPN).

How does this translate to staying out of a rut in your marketing department? Create your own madness at different times throughout the year. Shake things up. Think about this:

Why do sports fans like me and other viewers, stay away from college basketball during the regular season but tune in to watch in large numbers in March?

Why? Because the:

  • Pace is quick
  • More is at stake
  • Players step up their game

Can’t you do the same three things in your office?

Step up the pace

Give your team or yourself less time to complete a task or a project. If you’re given a deadline of three days, challenge your team to get it done in two—or even one!

Honestly, I was a little skeptical when a LinkedIn friend suggested this as a way to boost productivity in copywriting. So I tested it myself, and it worked.

I found that self-imposed time limits boosted my creativity and helped me accomplish more each day. If I set a limit of one hour to get a flyer written, I’d stop at one hour. Even if I didn’t accomplish much, I moved on to another task. This kept me from getting bogged down in writer’s block. Try it yourself and let me know how it goes.

Put more at stake

If your creative team has assigned roles, change things up. Let them compete for the most wanted projects. Have them all present ideas or storyboards, and then decide as a group which one is best.

Letting the group hear all the ideas and then decide makes this both competitive and collaborative.

Challenge them to step up their game

Increase the rewards and recognition for team members who perform well. Encourage new ideas, new ways of thinking. And give them a shot at something they may not normally do.

For example, let’s say you do all your marketing communications in-house, but you send your advertising to an outside agency. Next time you need an ad campaign, see what your in-house department can do. Send it to the agency too and compare the results.

The bottom line

Don’t let talent and innovative ideas get strangled in a web of red tape or bogged down by assigned roles. The more you let your creative team spread their wings and use more of their talents, the happier they will be and the better your business will be.

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Interesting blogs I found while researching this post: Sports Media Watch, 1000Watt blog.

5 tips for effective taglines

Got tagline? Ok, that’s a pathetic ripoff of Got milk?the most influential tagline since 1948. But it’s a good question. You know a good tagline when you hear one—when it’s another brand’s. But what’s the secret to developing your own killer tagline?

Before every moment, there’s a moment (Amp Energy), and behind closed doors that’s when people doubt themselves or think too hard and blow it. But don’t get mad, get GLAD, here are 5 tips for creating taglines:

1. Keep it simple. Don’t overthink your message. Nike’s Just do it may just be the best tagline ever. And yet, I imagine there were at least a few people in the room who said, “Do what? This doesn’t make any sense.” Don’t be that person.

2. Keep it real. Don’t promise something in your tagline that you can’t deliver. Notice no airline has the tagline On time every time.

3. Differentiate from competitors. Tastes great, less filling (Miller Lite) does this in four words. Light beer originally was a tough sell because it seemed too watery and didn’t taste like “real” beer. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking (Timex) directly tackles a concern watch wearers had. The few, the proud, the Marines. Two words, “the few,” set the Marines apart and seemingly above other military branches. The trick is you have to know what sets you apart.

4. Connect to your audience. Think about your customers’ needs. What’s important to them? Nationwide is on your side. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. You’re in good hands with Allstate. All three get the concept, but Allstate drives it home. Insurance should make you feel protected. Which one sounds more comforting and protective to you?

Connect to needs or connect to emotions or attitude. Impossible is nothing. Adidas isn’t saying you can do the impossible in their shoes, but they know athletes thrive on that attitude. Know your audience.

5. Make it easy to remember (especially in relation to your product). Welcome to the state of independence. It’s boring. It’s a sentence more than a tagline, and you’d never guess it’s for a car. If Saab was trying to express the feeling of freedom you get behind the wheel, why didn’t they use the word “freedom”? Freedom to just drive. Freedom on four wheels. Freedom is yours. Which one do you think is easier to remember?

All five points are important. If you focus only on keeping it simple, you might end up Moving forward (Toyota) with a bad tagline. Nothing will work if it’s not meaningful.

Test your ideas and trust your creatives. After all, we bring good things to life (GE).

Feel free to add your favorite and least favorite taglines below.

Advertising wars: AT&T is losing

What do you do when a bully starts an advertising war? Well, let’s see what AT&T is doing.

AT&T scored big with the iPhone, probably making competitors jealous. Then their network couldn’t handle the data demands and those competitors licked their lips.

Big bad Verizon knows an opportunity when it sees one and attacked. Their misfit toys ad was brilliant.

We ask the same question asked in the ad, “Why is the iPhone on the island of misfit toys?” Then, the AT&T coverage map pops up. Verizon followed up with a campaign of “maps” ads that hit hard.

AT&T tried to sue and then created maps commercials of their own. Two big missteps, don’t you think?

Luke Wilson is likable enough and the commercials are so-so. But there’s no bang. If you’re going to take on the big bully, you have to have something strong to come back with. They have nothing in these ads, and they know it.

AT&T launches a second wave. One campaign responds to Verizon’s attack and another takes a different approach. Smart, right? They can still market to their strength while knocking down Verizon’s argument. A double whammy!

But no! The new ad comes out and the double whammy hits AT&T like a schoolyard slap. Not only is their new ad annoying, but it’s a pathetic ripoff of a popular old Budweiser ad. See for yourself:

What’s next? Maybe they should do a “Can you hear me now?” campaign—that would be more fitting. Or maybe they should spend less on advertising and more on improving their network. (See Gizmodo for details.)

When they do fix their network problems, they should then figure out what their strength is and market to that strength. Most of all, they need to be original. And if they need inspiration, they should check out their own print campaign. After all, it won “America’s Favorite Magazine Ad” in July 2009.

What do you think? Will AT&T ever rival Verizon in the ad game?

Can marketing & PR save Toyota?

toyota logo

even when you don't want to

No. But, these 6 steps can.

1. Change your tagline. I know this sounds like it’s not important, but “Moving forward” was bad to begin with and now is plain embarrassing. “Moving forward…even when you don’t want to.”

2. Resign. Someone has to resign or be fired over this. Not a scapegoat—someone who was making these boneheaded decisions to put profit before safety. We all know there’s more than one, so get to it. This should’ve already happened.

3. Let an independent party investigate. Face it. You blew this so bad you can’t be trusted. Even if you are right about the reasons these cars failed, no one will believe you. Hire a trusted third party to publicly investigate and then correct the problems.

4. Stop advertising. The other night I saw your old car wash ad, touting “Toyota reliability.” Do I have to say any more?

And your new commercials? “80% of Toyotas are still on the road today.”  News flash: we no longer think that’s a good thing. I know I cringe every time a Toyota is behind me.  Your Sienna ads crack me up. I LOVE that you show Toyota’s best use as a stationary sort of quiet room that sits in the driveway! It’s perfect for all those Toyota lovers who are too afraid now to drive one. Really though—just stop. Please.

5. Innovate. Use the lessons from this experience to create an automated better way to track and respond to recalls. Make it so efficient and so great that while exclaiming “wow” over it, we start forgetting the whole mess that led you to this invention. Of course, you might want to outsource the electronic part of this. In fact, crowdsource the whole project. Get input from all the Toyota owners who are affected by the defective cars and the recall.

6. Apologize. For real this time. Let all your employees who genuinely feel sorry about this publicly apologize. Create docu-ads that show what you’re doing to fix the problem and prevent any more. Do NOT use actors. Use real employees. And really, if you don’t understand what you did wrong, then see step number two.