Here you'll find everything I have to say marketing.  As the world accelerates and changes, the definition of marketing itself changes. It's not about inbound, digital, content, or any other newly coined term people exploit to create businesses: It's about an integrated corporate strategy to make a difference in the lives of your customers. And as their lives accelerate and change, you need to change how you market. You need to bridge the gap between you and your customer. That's where the potential for improved corporate vitality lies.  That's what INNOVATUDE is all about: bridging the gap to help you grow and thrive.  

POWERS OF OBSERVATION

September 26, 2014

There are so many types of marketing popping up today. It's easy to be seduced by the promises of newer, easier ways to market. Here's the trick of inbound marketing: The inventors of inbound marketing give away white papers. You download, and your phone rings immediately. It's the trigger for a telemarketing call. 

Great! You say. It still has a higher hit rate than direct mail. This may be true. But so what?

Imagine launching a campaign that had people rushing to your website. Hits are spiking. Why are they coming? What do they want? What are you going to do to make their lives better? 

You can ask questions when you interact with your customers. But they'll likely just tell you what they think you want to hear. To make a difference, watch. Observe their behaviors. Or ask different questions. Ask what they think you think of them. Meet them on their turf. I once asked an interior designer how his life had changed post-Great Recession and learned he made all of his purchasing decisions between 11 pm and 2 am, when my company was completely closed. We developed a suite of new tools to make ourselves easy to interact with 24/7. Sales grew exponentially. We gained huge market share. Site traffic was up. But it was because we realized purchasing behaviors had shifted, and we adjusted more quickly than our competitors. That's what marketing should be: Observing what's happening, aligning your organization internally to deliver, and getting to market better and faster than your competition. It requires insightful observation, high levels of collaboration, and, above all, a desire to meet your customer where they actually are. Not where you think they are. 

MARKETING BY EXPERIENCE

September 25, 2014

I relaunched my business this month to focus on the growing divide between customers and companies, especially in the building products and interior design industries. Closing the gap catapults you into an arena of tremendous competitive advantage. The question is, why aren't more companies doing it?

First, you have to realize that you need to meet the customer where she is. What is her state of mind? What are her needs today, and how are they trending? In other words you have to have insight into your customer, and when your customer speaks, you need to hear her. And rather than fitting the customer's opinion into your corporate operational routines, you need to bend your company to meet the needs of the customer. 

There is a lot of debate these days on inbound marketing versus content marketing (and of course, this is another prime example of BOTH rather than OR). But the key is that without knowing your customer, you don't know what content will resonate, and won't be able to draw her into your inbound. Create an experience that matters, that makes your customer's life better, easier, simpler, more meaningful. And watch the opportunities open up. Bridge the gap by meeting the customer where she wants and needs to be met. 

It's a time of great opportunity. Seize it!

 

CONGRATULATIONS, CARROT + STICK

May 22, 2014

We'd like to take a moment to congratulate Carrot + Stick on the launch today of their new #brand, #identity and #website. We were able to manage the website design and development, write the copy, collaborate with the designer, and organize the social media and email marketing. I'm particularly fond of the window shops as a way to convey unique ideas for how to activate and merchandise your brand. 

Much of what you will see on their site is unique; take a look at the navigation, the life saver nav that you can move around the page, and the brand wheel. Clever. Innovative. 

It's worth thanking our cohorts at Azul Arc and Carrot + Stick for involving us in the process. It hasn't always been according to script, but design rarely is. Go Carrot + Stick! 

 

KNOWING YOUR CLIENT

 

Marketing and design are intuitive, in my opinion. I'm a believer in delivering the surprise that is that little piece of delight that a buyer may not have known she wanted or needed. The skill, the art, lies in determining what that is. 

Yet in the consulting and design service business (whether design is architecture, interiors, industrial or graphic design) the other challenge is scientifically separating the client who makes decisions in a clean, linear fashion from one who requires iterations to understand what will have the greatest upside. Neither is better than the other; the art is in matching the process with the client, which requires knowledge or right intuition up front.

Last week I was talking with a friend who owns a development company, and he was wishing for a tool that would help him determine which clients were linear and which would be iterative--who will stay on script and who will want to improvise a bit. All design firms would be more profitable if they gauge this accurately before starting work. And again today, I was reminded that sometimes turning down a project beats forging a relationship that may not work for the client or me. 

What am I suggesting? It's equally if not more important to understand the nature of the relationship and establish some rules of engagement before getting engaged. If the personalities and expectations mesh, it will be a whole lot easier--and more fun--to work together. Whether you are a client or a service provider, know with whom you work well and with whom you don't, and make decisions accordingly. Life's too short, and great projects are too much fun to get bogged down in experiences that don't delight. Love what you do, like who you are doing it with.

NEXT CALL

May 7, 2014

This week, I am waging war with my health insurance provider. I fumbled a payment and received a letter stating a payment needed to be in their hands by May 1. So I sent the check. And they cashed it. On May 1st. 

And then they discontinued my service. And kept the money. 

Monday, I made 12 calls. Three times I was transferred to the wrong department. Once I was simply cut off instead of being transferred anywhere. I spent three hours of my time on the repeating myself, explaining my story, chasing after someone who could help me. It was an #epicFAIL on the part of #customerservice. 

Today, three more calls. First I was told I had been turned down for reinstatement. Then I was told my discontinuation date was a mere 8 days after my first payment. Finally I was told it was being submitted and I would here in 72 hours. Mind you, they gave me a deadline, and I met it. They cut off my service AND kept my money. 

But I did learn some lessons and have some basic beliefs about #customerservice confirmed. Here are things to avoid with your customer experience (#custexp): don't tell people their wait time is 2 minutes, every two minutes for over 20 minutes. Be honest. Be accurate. 

Don't ask your customers to repeat information they've already provided. Don't fail to record key facts and history in my profile. 

What was confirmed?

No matter whether you sell a product or deliver a service, #customerexperience is your greatest marketing tool. A superior product with a lousy customer experience does not get you as fas as a mediocre product with a #customerexperience that truly delights your customer. And when you have a great product and deliver a great experience, you've got the killer app. See #HiutDenim (www.hiutdenim.co.uk), and read their #HistoryTag section. Want to sell a premium product at a premium price? Have a great story and deliver a great experience. 

Second, your standard of customer service, whether you are #B2B or #B2C is #Zappo's or #Amazon. If you're not hitting that mark, you've got work to do. 

Design your customer's experience. Fuss over the details. Pick nits to get it right. And if you need help, see our Diagnostics section.