Monday, August 2, 2021

How Well Does Your Brand Know Your Customers?

Over the last decade, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing marketing, leadership, and customer experience/customer service experts. One of these experts is Jerry Angrave in England. We recently had a discussion about customer experiences and their impact on the overall brand experience. Highlights of our conversation follow Jerry's introduction.

Jerry Angrave is Customer and Passenger Experience Director of Empathyce, a UK-based Customer Experience (CX) consulting and coaching company. His background is in CX roles in the corporate world. As a consultant, he has helped organisations around the world culturally, strategically and operationally in sectors including aviation, financial services, SaaS companies, and utilities. He is also a mentor and trainer for professional development of those in CX roles. In 2020, he wrote his first book, the Customer Journey Mapping Playbook. Connect on Twitter @JerryAngrave and on his website: www.empathyce.com.

QUESTION: In one of your Blog posts, you explained four ways to secure buy-in for Customer Experience from skeptical stakeholders. Can you share your secrets?
JERRY ANGRAVE: We have to help them see how CX can support what they do and contribute to their objectives. Create a starting point they are familiar with: themselves. Ask them to talk about experiences, good or bad, they’ve had with companies in their own lives. Explore what happened, how they felt, what they did or will (not) do next time and reflect on how that impacts the business. The penny will drop, I assure you.

(Post referenced: https://empathyce.com/securing-buy-in-for-customer-experience/)

QUESTION: There’s currently a lot of buzz surrounding the concept of customer journey mapping. You wrote a book on the topic. Can you boil it down to a quick explanation?
JERRY ANGRAVE: Journey mapping is the practice of not just creating a visual representation of what it’s like to be a customer, but of then doing something with it. It’s about organising the thinking about a customer journey into stages and then for each stage, recording what are they doing, thinking, and feeling. At this point, it’s nothing to do with your process maps, they get overlaid later. But armed with a journey map, validated by customers, it becomes apparent where the biggest, easiest wins are for both customers and the business based on the pain points and where you are creating emotions that erode value.

(Post referenced: https://empathyce.com/book-on-customer-journey-mapping/)

QUESTION: There is a direct correlation between the customer experience and the employee experience. Can you elaborate based on a post on your Blog whereby you wrote that customer journey mapping leads to employee engagement?
JERRY ANGRAVE: The act of having a journey mapping workshop brings people together in a way that rarely happens. They will be from right across the business, different functions who are often in conflict with each other and third parties who may not share quite the same values. But the common thread here is how they all collectively have an impact on the customer. They learn about their own business, the roles each person has, and are given permission to step back from the functional day-job to think about the customer. Done effectively, that ignites an excitement and belief abut the benefits of focusing on customers and the pride that will come and with it, therefore, deeper employee engagement.

(Post referenced: https://empathyce.com/using-journey-mapping-understand-measure-employee-engagement/)

QUESTION: Since March 2020, which brands have stood out by providing excellent customer service during the covid pandemic?
JERRY ANGRAVE: It’s tricky to call out any specific brand because so many have stepped up, refocused their business around people and done the right thing, whatever that may be for them. For others, it’s not been their best moment. So the ones that stand out are those who didn’t just keep doing what they were doing but recognised the position their customers were in and were brave enough to throw the operational manual out the window and, in some cases reinvent themselves. People will remember those companies who helped them through this as well as those who stayed wedded to their policies and procedures come what may. It’s not just the big corporations, the corner shop, the local gym, and café have all learned as they go and done some amazing things.

QUESTION: Have you had any exceptional customer experiences during the covid era?               JERRY ANGRAVE: I’d say early on when it wasn’t quite clear what was happening, yet a booking we had with AirBnB was changed and then refunded without question. The expectation was that it would be like dealing with one of the airlines who’ve not covered themselves in glory but it couldn’t have been easier. We felt they trusted us, it worked as they promised, and as a result, I have no doubt we’ll use them again.

QUESTION: Bill Gates has a famous quote, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” What does that quote mean to you?

JERRY ANGRAVE: At one level, it’s obvious, but at another, it’s about being brave, being bold enough to take time to empathise with those who are most frustrated by what you do. It holds the leadership team to account...if they are not prepared to speak directly to an unhappy customer, then the future of that company will be limited.

 
My gratitude to Jerry for appearing on my Blog and sharing his inspiring international insights about customer experience marketing.

Image Credit: Image by Patrick Tomasso via Unsplash app.


In first question, Jerry's post, Securing buy-in for Customer Experience, listed four ways. Here they are:
1. Get them to tell their own stories
2. Spend time getting to know them
3. Talk to other peers and colleagues as well as senior stakeholders
4. Make the business case, even informally

To learn more about the benefits of customer journey mapping, read this post:
https://www.garyfox.co/benefits-customer-journey-mapping/

For an interesting commentary, read this post:
Journey/Experience Mapping Isn't Just for Customers
https://www.brcommunity.com/articles.php?id=b878

Thursday, July 29, 2021

What’s in a Name – Especially During the Olympics?

When last year’s Olympic Games were rescheduled for 2021 due to the Covid pandemic, did you take notice? If yes, did you watch last week’s Opening Ceremony that took place in Tokyo, Japan? Did anything stand out as odd?

First, while the Olympics are taking place in 2021, they continue to be referred to as the “2020 Olympics.” That’s a marketing nightmare!

Second, to protect fans from the covid virus, no fans were allowed to attend events and could not sit in the stands. While this is a decision that keeps fans safe, the athletes’ health is still at risk!

Third, and without a doubt, the oddest fact was that, even though Russia was barred from participating in the Olympics due to doping scandals, there are more than 300 Russian athletes competing in Tokyo. These Russian athletes participated in the Opening Ceremony’s parade of nations under the banner of R.O.C., which is the acronym for the Russian Olympic Committee. Are you confused?

According to The New York Times, “The International Olympic Committee — which has often avoided directly sanctioning Russia — has placed the onus on individual sports federations to interpret its two-page guidelines on the sanctioning measures, which include an edict that reads: “All public displays of the organization’s participant name should use the acronym ‘R.O.C.,’ not the full name “Russian Olympic Committee.”

For the few onlookers and journalists present, there was little sign that the team represented a sanctioned nation. A journalist from Kenya expressed confusion about the acronym, asking aloud why the Russian team that had just been announced was labeled R.O.C. on the scoreboard.

That is how things have gone at most venues: R.O.C. on signage and displays but Russia or Russian Olympic Committee in official announcements. Confusion over what to call the team has at times confused sports officials, too: Europe’s gymnastics federation, for example, deleted a tweet on Sunday that referred to the team as Russia in its compilation of the results in the women’s qualifying.”
 

So, the question is, what’s in a name – especially during the Olympics? How can viewers determine which country is competing, and more importantly, winning?

According to Gideon Kimbrell, “Good branding can shape [an] image...Words have meaning and connotations that can give strong initial impressions. If your brand name evokes a strong image in people’s minds, and that image aligns with your brand identity, your marketing will go much further than it would with a name that evokes an image contrary to your identity. For instance, if you started a gourmet ice cream company, it would take a lot more marketing to convince people that Bronx Creamery was a luxury brand than if you gave it a faux-European name the way Häagen-Dazs did. And there are plenty of examples of successful companies with meaningless names. DuckDuckGo was chosen on a whim. It describes nothing and has no deeper meaning. But the company’s search engine solves a major problem (privacy and tracking), so people flock to it.”

Back to the ROC and this year’s Olympics. Perhaps, this year’s Olympic competition is just another casualty of the Covid pandemic, and we should tune in to the next Olympic Games instead?

In case you're wondering, here are the future dates for your calendar:

2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China: February 4-20

2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France: July 26-August 11

2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina, Italy: February 6-22

2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California, USA: July 21-August 6

2032 Summer Olympics in Brisbane, Australia: July 23-August 8


Image Credit: miflippo via Getty Images.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Social Media, Brand Authenticity and Stories

Over the last 12 years, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing marketing, social media, and leadership experts from all over the world. One of these experts is Ross Simmonds from Canada, who I met on Twitter back in 2013. We recently had a discussion about digital marketing, and highlights follow Ross' bio.

Ross Simmonds is the Founder of Foundation Marketing, found online at  https://foundationinc.co, a content marketing agency that combines data and creativity to develop and serve ambitious brands. Foundation Marketing provides content marketing services to organizations all over the world ranging from some of the fastest-growing startups and consumer products to global Fortune 500 brands. Ross and the team at Foundation have launched marketing initiatives that reach millions of people and generate millions of new business opportunities through SEO and social channels like Instagram, Slideshare, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more. The company can be found on Twitter @FoundationIncCo, and Ross can be found on Twitter @TheCoolestCool.

QUESTION: Your pinned Tweet reads as follows:

“What's your Twitter strategy? It's simple:
I tweet about the things that are interesting to me (marketing, entrepreneurship, growth & software) and format them in a way that is easy on the eyes.
Oh. And I talk to people.
It's called "social" media for a reason.”

With over 33,000 followers in 12 years on Twitter, what are your best memories of that social media platform?

ROSS SIMMONDS: There are so many great moments that have happened on Twitter. I have a hard time thinking of just one, whether it's the random memes I come across that make me laugh out loud in real life, or the amazing opportunities that have come my way through content creation, sending DM's, building relationships, engaging with people, and more. There's no question that Twitter has opened up a lot of doors that would have been closed, had it not been for consistency in content creation on the platform. I have received news about everything from business to celebrity's deaths to new-found content that rewrote the way in which I think about business, life, and more. I can't really put my finger on one thing as to why Twitter is really valuable, but I can say with certainty that my life would be completely different if there were no such thing as Twitter.

TWEET THIS: I can say with certainty that my life would be completely different if there were no such thing as Twitter. -@TheCoolestCool #Twitter


QUESTION: In one of your Blog posts, you wrote, “Don’t be afraid to find your own lane(s) and win.” Can you explain that statement?

(Post referenced: https://foundationinc.co/lab/content-lanes)

ROSS SIMMONDS: Everyone gets so caught up in the idea of competition and seeing what the other company marketer, influencer, or guru is doing, yet they lose sight of doing, themselves, what they envision as being the most important things. It's very easy to lose track of things that are interesting to you and the story that is truly your own. I believe every brand, human, and person on social media has their own authentic self that is often watered down and not brought to the forefront of their social media channels, but when you acknowledge that people want you to be different, and that people are okay with your being different, and you lean into that, you'll realize the game becomes a lot easier.

QUESTION: What brands stood out to you that pivoted during the pandemic?

(Post referenced: https://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2021/05/marketing-tips-from-3-brands-that.html)

ROSS SIMMONDS: The pandemic brought out a lot of good in a lot of companies. New Balance is an example of one organization who went from making shoes to making masks. Hoover, the vacuum company, went from making vacuums to making ventilators. And across the globe, there were distilleries that shifted from making hard liquor to making hand sanitizer. When you look at how organizations like these from around the globe came together to try to find a solution and move the culture forward, it's hard not to be an optimist.

QUESTION: What are your three favorite marketing campaigns of all time, and why?
ROSS SIMMONDS: Here are my three:
(1) I'm a big fan of the Old Spice commercials. I believe they fundamentally changed the way that marketers think about omni-channel communication.
(2) The Band-Aid brand did an amazing job with their story (in the 1980's, I believe). That jingle sticks in my head even today.
(3) Marvel and the combinations/integrations of multiple universes into one move franchise was great work...And I know a lot of people will say that's not a marketing campaign, but it ultimately connects with humans the way that marketing campaigns should.  

I believe there's a lot of inspiration that every marketer can take from how these stories have evolved and how they capture the attention of people of all different walks of life.

QUESTION: What does this quote mean to you? “Give something of meaning to your audience by inspiring, engaging, and educating them with story. Stop marketing. Start storytelling. ~@StorytellerAgcy”
ROSS SIMMONDS: Stories are the backbone of society. Stories are the backbone of culture. The world that we know, see, believe in, and move through is all built around stories. It's a story that we believe that money is a thing. It's a story that we believe that anything around us is a thing. It's all a bunch of stories. So yes, I one hundred percent resonate with that idea, because at the core of humans and what makes us special is that it's stories that connect us all to one another, stories that we tell each other, and stories that have allowed us to continue to progress as people.

TWEET THIS: Stories are the backbone of society. Stories are the backbone of culture. -@TheCoolestCool #brandstorytelling #brandexperience


My thanks to Ross for sharing his insights and for appearing here on my Blog.

Image Credit: Twitter and Ross Simmonds.

Monday, July 19, 2021

The Alignment Between Leaders, Leadership, and Culture

Thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing leadership experts. One of these experts is Michael McKinney, who I met on Twitter back in 2010. We recently had a discussion about leadership and its connection to the employee experience and the overall brand experience, and highlights follow Michael’s introduction.

Michael McKinney is the president of Leadership Now and M2 Communications (a multi-media manufacturing and production company) since 1980. The Leading Blog began in March 2006 and can be found at LeadershipNow.com (https://www.leadershipnow.com/) You can follow him on Twitter @LeadershipNow and Instagram @leaderworks.

QUESTION: You provided a leadership quote here on my Blog in 2013, when I asked for one piece of advice for new leaders: “The biggest thing leaders must remember is that it is not about you. The implications are many, but it keeps your focus on what it should be focused on.” What does that quote mean to you today, 8 years later?

(Post referenced: https://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2013/05/leadership-insights-for-new-leaders.html)

MICHAEL MCKINNEY: A leader’s focus should be on a mission outside of themselves. As a leader, you are enlisting others to help you fulfill that mission. As such, your focus is on enabling the people on your team.  Of course, you can take that too far, and then leadership looks more like babysitting. Leaders who placate or pander to their constituents or followers aren’t leading at all; they’re simply making a place for themselves. They like their position, and they want to keep it. Any relationship that doesn’t have personal responsibility as part of the foundation is doomed to dysfunction. In addition, if you look at others as leaders in their own right, you raise their game, acknowledge them, and create ownership. “Not about you” builds others up, and people empower themselves.

TWEET THIS: A leader’s focus should be on a mission outside of themselves. As a leader, you are enlisting others to help you fulfill that mission. ~@LeadershipNow #Leadership


QUESTION: How can a CEO be an effective brand ambassador?

MICHAEL MCKINNEY: Today, when we talk about being a brand ambassador, we think of social media. And when done right, that works for some CEOs. But I think being an effective brand ambassador means being the poster child for whatever your organization represents. A leader should not just represent the product or service but should also embody the culture they feel is crucial to the organization’s success and the success of the people in that culture. The brand and what it stands for is personified in the life of the leader(s) both in and out of the office. In short, they walk the talk in all that they do.

TWEET THIS: A leader should not just represent the product or service but should also embody the culture they feel is crucial to the organization’s success. ~@LeadershipNow #brandexperience


QUESTION: Have any Presidents/CEOs impressed you by their leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic? If yes, how?
MICHAEL MCKINNEY: The crisis created by the response to the pandemic was a difficult situation for any leader to navigate. I think any leader that managed the fear factor by sticking to the facts was a success. It has been such a fluid situation of conflicting information that it made you feel that you knew nothing about anything.

One example that I am aware of is the leadership at High Point University in North Carolina. University president Nido Qubein and staff ran a test over the summer of 2020 with all of the recommended safety protocols and procedures in place with a small group of summer students in both virtual and in-person classes. The success of that allowed them to safely open in the Fall of 2020 in the same manner.

For the class of 2020 that was denied a final semester and proper graduation ceremony, they offered them a tuition-free master’s degree in Communication and Business Leadership. The lengths they went to care for their students, staff, and faculty speaks volumes about their concern and effort to understand the people they serve.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite leadership book, and why?
MICHAEL MCKINNEY: I read about 2 to 3 books a week. Almost all are leadership or business-related titles. However, I like to throw in a good novel and something historical or from the social sciences. So, I have a lot of favorites. There is a lot of great content being produced today that is of great value.

But if I am to narrow it down to one title, I would have to go with The Unconscious Conspiracy: Why Leaders Can’t Lead by Warren Bennis. That book got me seriously thinking about leadership back in the late seventies. I read everything I could from Bennis, Drucker, and other notable authors in that decade. Bennis argued that leaders aren’t leading. They were (and are today) doing everything but leading. It is what prompted me to start a company called LeadershipNow.

QUESTION: You feature a Leadership Quiz on your website: “The answer depends on some pretty subjective variables. However, this quiz will help give you a rough idea as to whether or not you have the attributes of a good leader.” Can you provide an overview of the quiz and who should take it?

(Link referenced: https://www.leadershipnow.com/quiz.html)

MICHAEL MCKINNEY: I think everyone has the potential to lead; it is a matter of breathing life into that potential. No one is born a great leader or has the combination of traits that make a great leader. We all have qualities that must be developed and strengths that need to be managed. As we grow and learn how our mindsets and the behaviors they create affect others, we learn where we need to grow. And it can change depending on those we are interacting with or the mission we are on. It is a lifelong process. The quiz is made up of phrases that reflect qualities of leadership that we can all develop (and no doubt have, to one degree or another). The point of the quiz is to get anyone inclined to believe that they can’t lead that they have to potential to lead from where they are.

QUESTION: One of my favorite quotes about leadership is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer): “Leadership is a gift, not a position. It doesn’t require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to trust and be trusted – and block and tackle for others.” What does this quote mean to you?
MICHAEL MCKINNEY: As the late former Secretary of State George Schultz said on the occasion of his 100th birthday last December, “trust is the coin of the realm.” Trust is built not by just being truthful but also by not being deceptive. Trust also involves a vulnerability—the humility to recognize a certain uncertainty and an understanding that I don’t know everything. Often, we must defer to others. Uncertainty means we even need to reassess what we think we know. A leader with that mindset can be trusted. Without that, we even become rigid in our dealings with others. More than a gift, leadership is taking responsibility for something that needs attending to. It is stewardship. It is not a position. It can be practiced effectively by anyone in any context.

TWEET THIS: Leadership is taking responsibility for something that needs attending to. It is stewardship. It is not a position. ~@LeadershipNow #Leadership #brandexperience


My gratitude to Michael for appearing on my Blog and for sharing his inspiring leadership insights.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Customer Service, Customer Experience, and Customer Success

Over the last decade, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing marketing, customer experience, and leadership experts. One of these experts is Tony Bodoh, who I met on Twitter. We recently had a discussion about customer experience marketing and its impact on the overall brand experience, and highlights of our conversation follow Tony’s introduction.

Tony Bodoh is the CEO of Tony Bodoh International (TBI), a customer experience consultancy. TBI focuses on applying the science of human experience to deepen the customer relationships that build brands and grow businesses. Recently, he joined the marketing agency, DiMassimo Goldstein as their Senior Behavior Change Strategist (contract). Tony is a speaker, podcaster, and co-author of three #1 Best Selling books. In 2018, Tony was named one of the “Top Customer Service Movers and Shakers You Should Follow” by the Miller Heiman Group based in the UK. Check out his website at: www.TonyBodoh.com; his LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tonybodoh; Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TonyBodohInternational; Instagram @TonyBodoh; and Twitter @TonyBodoh.

QUESTION: How do you differentiate between customer service and customer
experience?

TONY BODOH: Customer service focuses on delivering or fulfilling promises made in a brand’s marketing. It often involves helping the customer onboard, resolve issues, and is usually done in a reactive manner. Self-service is replacing some human-to-human contact but there is a continued desire for human connection, especially where the issue may be somewhat complex.

Customer experience focuses on staging an environment to stimulate a memorable positive emotion. This can include the design of the product, policies, processes, procedures, and training of employees at each customer touchpoint. Technology enables the creation of the environment, but too often becomes the center of customer experience design. Experience is fundamentally human.

I would like to offer an additional consideration: Customer Success. Customer success focuses on transformation of the customer. Here, companies identify the customer’s aspirations for identity and achievement. Then, they proactively work with the customer to help her realize her aspirations. Customer success uses the tools of customer service and customer experience to evoke transformation in the customer, rather than these tools being the end or goal themselves.

TWEET THIS: Customer success uses the tools of customer service and customer experience to evoke transformation in the customer. ~@TonyBodoh #CX #brandexperience


QUESTION: According to Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Have you ever had an experience that began horribly and ended by your becoming a happy advocate for the brand?
TONY BODOH: I have had a few. I think what really made the difference in these cases was that I trusted the brand because of the personal referral I was given or because of the overwhelming number of positive reviews I saw online. This helped me pause my emotional reactions long enough to recognize the person on the other end of the phone or desk may just be having a bad day or she might be new to the job, etc. With that in mind, I calmed down and reassured the employee that I was sure that the challenge was not their fault, and then we focused on finding out who could help solve my problem and what my options were.

As consumers, we need to remember that, like us, the employees we talk to are under tremendous pressures at work and at home these days. Often, when the customer displays some empathy for the employee and takes responsibility for their own reactions, it can change the whole situation. Everyone wins.

It is important for leaders to realize that customer satisfaction is not to be sought at the expense of an employee’s mental and emotional well-being. Some customers are just angry, manipulative, and narcissistic. Leaders must protect their employees from these types of customers even if it means that their satisfaction scores take a momentary hit.

QUESTION: What customer experience metric should every brand use, and why?
TONY BODOH: I don’t think there is one standard metric that works for every brand. It really depends on the stage of maturity of the company. I typically recommend to my clients that they focus on capturing an experience rating, a value rating, and gathering open-ended comments from customers about their experience. The metrics can answer “What” questions. The comments explain the “Why” of the metric.

Once we have this data, I encourage my clients to segment it in a three dimensional matrix that involves slices of a third metric that is appropriate to their stage of company growth like retention, profitability, or life-time value. We plot the average experience and value scores and note the most common themes from the comments for each segment on a series of maps. One map might show what the most profitable 10% of customers are saying and their average rating. Another map might show what the least profitable 10% of customers are saying and how they rated the experience and value. While it is more complex than having one metric, it can very quickly give leaders the answers they need to make good decisions and take immediate action.

TWEET THIS: There is not one standard #CX metric that works for every brand. It really depends on the stage of maturity of the company. ~@TonyBodoh #brandexperience


QUESTION: To quote Denise Lee Yohn (@deniseleeyohn on Twitter), author and speaker, “Teach employees to love bringing their brand to life for customers.” Additionally, to quote, Bruce Jones (@Joneseybi), Senior Programming Director of Disney Institute in Florida, “When a service failure occurs, it’s essential to resolve the issue quickly. With tens of thousands of visitors each day to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts around the world, we recognize that issues will occasionally come up. Therefore, it’s essential that employees are equipped with the tools to enable them to quickly resolve as many issues as possible on their own. At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, customers discover that everyone is the right person when it comes to providing speedy service recovery.” Therefore, how do you train employees to provide excellent customer service?
TONY BODOH: I am going to assume here that the brand’s customer service team has the tools to resolve the problems that arise and that they have been sufficiently trained on how to use these tools. That is the foundation that the brand absolutely needs. If a client does not have these in place, that is where I tell them to start.

After the foundation is set, I then recommend a mental performance training program. In 2014, I partnered with Dave Austin, one of the top mental performance coaches in the world. I have adapted the practices he uses to train Olympians, pro athletes, and even the U.S. Military to focus and perform in a peak mental and emotional state when under intense pressure. The training we provide helps customer service professionals build their emotional resilience and mental focus. As a result, they can diagnose problems faster, provide more effective solutions, and keep the experience a positive one for the customer.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite customer service story?
TONY BODOH: One of my favorite customer service stories goes back to 2008 when I managed customer experience for the Gaylord Hotels brand. I was examining the data from Gaylord Palms and noted that nearly every guest who attended a specific convention filled out the survey and something like 97% of them gave top box ratings. While we had great scores as a brand, this was an outlier. I called Franz Krieger, who was the Director of Operational Excellence at the resort, and I asked him if he knew how they achieved this.

He told me that they conducted an experiment. The night before every guest from the convention was scheduled to leave, they had a STAR (what Gaylord employees were called) telephone the room. If the guest was there the STAR confirmed their departure, asked how their stay was, and then asked if there was anything else they could do to make the last few hours of their stay even better.

This proactive action delighted the guests and they felt compelled to respond to the survey they received after departure in a very positive way. What I loved about this was the creativity of Franz and his team and that they found a way to leverage the science of Peak-End Effect to create a lasting positive memory for these guests. It was easy, relatively inexpensive, and impactful.

QUESTION: If you could be the Chief Customer Officer for any brand, which would it
be, and why?

TONY BODOH: I have not really considered a specific brand, but I do know some of the criteria I would look for. First, it would be a direct to consumer brand so I can have an impact on the lives of the customers. Secondly, the company would be preparing for hyper-growth and ready to create the brand experience that customers will admire and feel compelled to share. Thirdly, the brand would be applying technology in a disruptive way with a focus on transforming the customer’s life through positive behavior change.

I believe a company that meets these three criteria would give me the platform to really change lives and demonstrate how brands can help customers successfully take on new identities and world views that benefit society as a whole. I believe a company like this could have profound ripple effects that not only impact the present moment, but as lives are changed, they will alter the trajectory of human history. That would be a company worth working for.

My thanks to Tony for appearing here on my Blog and for sharing useful take-aways for all brands to improve their customer experiences.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Some Lessons in Marketing Terminology

Over the last decade, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege of meeting a variety of amazing marketing, branding, customer experience, leadership, and social media experts all over the world. One of these experts is Maureen Jann, a marketing pro based in Seattle, Washington. We recently had a discussion about marketing, Covid19's impact on marketing, and social media, and highlights follow below.

Maureen shares her experience and background in her responses, and you can meet her on LinkedIn at https://linkedin.com/in/maureenjann, on her website at https://www.superdeluxemarketing.com, and follow on Twitter @NeoLuxeMo.

QUESTION: How do you explain your title of "Co-Conspirator and Chief Marketing Strategist?"
MAUREEN JANN: So, the term “conspirator” reflects Neoluxe Marketing’s focus on becoming part of our client’s story. When they’re stressed, we step up next to them and say something like, “We’re in this together and we’ll figure it out.” You can’t expect that from your normal run-of-the-mill co-founder title. I wanted to make sure that people know that if you hire me and my team, you’re getting someone who will be side-by-side with you helping to plan your most innovative marketing shenanigans.

What I also love about the phrase “co-conspirator” is that it describes my role in our organization as well. Not only am I able to be my partner’s co-conspirator, planning strategy and growth, but I’m able to bring that same kind of “in it together” type of approach to our team. Whether that means that I stand up and act as a buffer in difficult client situations, or someone is just overwhelmed with deliverables, I can step up next to him/her/them and we can walk through the tough spot together.

As for the Chief Marketing Strategist, that’s simpler! I provide the overarching marketing and content strategy inside NeoLuxe and in our client organizations. As a perfect example, right now, I find myself as an interim VP of Marketing at a few organizations we serve. I start by providing the strategy and am then able to engage my team to help execute on the details.

QUESTION: What appeals to you most about the field of marketing, and why?
MAUREEN JANN: I started out as a graphic designer. But even early in my career, I discovered that waiting for someone to tell me what to make and why wasn’t going to cut it. As I dug into the world of marketing while I was tolerating my first job as an administrative assistant at an insurance brokerage (they were great, I was just a truly terrible admin), it became clearer and clearer to me that marketing demanded a broader, more balanced set of skills. It combined creativity and analytical thinking in a way that I didn’t expect. And as I’ve matured into my career, what’s also clear is that there is always a ton to learn.

The ability to help people taps into my empathic nature as well. Not only do I get to help marketers achieve their goals, but I get to help connect them with their customers as well. I can walk a mile in their shoes and distill their wants, needs, desires, and influences into personas that can drive an entire organization’s understanding of their customer. Using my natural ability to connect and build trust with people to create that level of impact feels like the holy grail of occupations. I truly love what I do.  

QUESTION: Based on your professional experiences since March of 2020, how has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the world of marketing?
MAUREEN JANN: I’ve found that my personal experience during the pandemic is indicative of what I’m seeing in the market. By May of 2020, I had lost every client I had. I was starting from zero. But true to my phoenix form, I merged with another agency to form NeoLuxe Marketing. Of course, starting a new business in a pandemic is tricky and I knew if I didn’t hustle hard, I would fall flat on my face. So, I took 500 meetings in 5 months to build up the pipeline and get a real sense for what my prospects and the marketing industry at large were dealing with. This was in combination with homeschooling my kiddo and managing complex social structures with our education pod. The good news is that it worked. We went from zero clients to signing 6-figure clients in nine months thanks to the work of myself and my partner, Chris Craft. The bad news is that this didn’t happen without many tears and much gnashing of teeth (and a whole lotta time on Zoom). It just happened to close with a happy ending.

Marketing as a whole, much like my story, comes out the other side of this pandemic with a newfound desire to survive. That means we are navigating new internal demands, shifting persona populations dealing with more stress and anxiety, and in many cases, smaller teams. We are in a world where we need to know our customers better than ever to ensure that we don’t step in a pile of “NOPE” when we communicate with them.

There is added complication with the growing tech stacks as well. We were required to double down on digital transformation (although we were pretty digital to start with) because we are doing more with less in a way that we have never needed to in years prior. Automation is more important than ever. Efficiency and planning are more important than ever before. But doing it with a loose grip is critical as well because things could change again in the flutter of a butterfly’s wing.

TWEET THIS: We are in a world where we need to know our customers better than ever to ensure that we don’t step in a pile of “NOPE” when we communicate with them. ~@NeoLuxeMo #CX #marketingtip #brandexperience


QUESTION: What's your favorite social platform, and why?
MAUREEN JANN: I love Twitter. It’s fun, immediate, active, and allows for true interaction. I do a ton of TweetChats and highly recommend anyone in the marketing and business worlds to look up some TweetChats to participate in. They offer the opportunity to interact with the topic’s community in a way that’s moderated, fun, and fast.

Here are my three fave TweetChats:
(1) #CMWorld, 9am PT on Tuesdays - A wonderful community that has quite literally helped propel my career.
(2) #ContentChat, 12p PT on Mondays - Smart, sharp, and fresh questions on important topics. It's hosted by the amazing Erika Heald, and she brings together a unique community of outstanding marketers.
(3) #SEMRushChat, 8am PT on Wednesdays - A more technical crowd. I never fail to learn something new from a group of marketing experts that I don't often get to connect with.

QUESTION: How do you convince/make a case to a client to create a brand style guide when none previously existed for the business?
MAUREEN JANN: I always show them the money. Much like a creative brief, brand style guides offer an agreed-upon approach that saves endless rounds of editing, tweaking, and updating to reflect current brand approaches and strategies. The employees, contractors, and vendors know what’s anticipated of them, and they’re far more likely to get it right the first time if you set the expectations with a brand style guide.

QUESTION: What's your favorite marketing buzzword, and why? What's your most disliked marketing buzzword, and why?
MAUREEN JANN: Honestly, I don’t think or speak in buzzwords so this question is a little tough for me. Of course, as I type that, the words “machine learning/artificial intelligence” pop up for me as some of my least favorite terms. Not only are they ambiguous, but they are often grouped together when they are clearly two different concepts. Sometimes they can work together, but most frequently, organizations are creating dynamic algorithms and calling it AI. I get really tired of folks leveraging those phrases incorrectly.

I’m also hesitant to say that I have a favorite marketing buzzword. I like the word shenanigans (as seen in my response to the first question) and I love slipping that into every-day conversations. But the marketing specific buzzword that I am really enjoying and learning about is OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). The idea that you start with the objective, then you work your way back towards key results feels intuitively like a much more effective approach to goals and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Goals often feel arbitrary and KPIs can feel like a goal’s equally arbitrary cousin. Starting with what you want to achieve through an object process seems far more useful.

My gratitude and appreciation to Maureen for appearing on my Blog and for sharing her marketing insights.

 

Additional reading about OKRs:

OKRs Vs. KPIs: Breaking Down The Difference:
https://www.clearpointstrategy.com/okrs-vs-kpis/

A brief history of OKR:
https://www.perdoo.com/okr-guide/

Image Credit: Daniel Herron and Unsplash app.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Secrets for Fourth of July Holiday Marketing

If your brand's name included “America” or “American,” what would you do during the months of June and July to capitalize on America's Independence Day?

Here are just some of the popular brand names that include some form of the word AMERICA:

  • American Airlines
  • American Express
  • American Broadcasting Company
  • American Greetings Corporation
  • Bank of America


During the months of June and July, brand names including “America” or “American” often implement memorable marketing campaigns. The reason is simple: Brands want to capitalize on the buzz of the moment, and in the case of June and July in the United States, that buzz is Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July.

TWEET THIS: Brands want to capitalize on the buzz of the moment. --@DebbieLaskeyMBA #BrandTip #BrandExperience


Certainly, discounts are an option, or maybe, the launch of a new product or service, or perhaps, the implementation of a new loyalty or referral program.

Another spin on this topic is if a portion of your brand name is tied to a national park, national monument, theme park, hotel resort, etc. There is no doubt that your brand has a head start on brand awareness if the name of your business is Mount Rushmore Cement Company or Yellowstone Coffee or Liberty Bell Music Store.

In all of these scenarios, the first goal of all marketing campaigns has been achieved: There is immediate brand recognition.

However, don’t lose sight of your brand strengths and the competitive positioning that you’ve worked hard to achieve. The buzz of the moment should NEVER overshadow your core brand promise, brand story, and mission.


Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.