We were interested in last week’s news about Amazon’s purchase of online retailer Zappos. In doing research for our book last year, NET Value, we learned that Zappos was not your garden-variety online retailer. Instead, its model was pretty much what Amazon.com’s was, and is. It wanted to be known as a service company that just happened to sell shoes, handbags, and everything else. And like Amazon, Zappos realized that the “customer experience” should deliver everything a buyer wants. Good fit for both companies. Future value for customers, value now for shareholders. Zappos understood, from its beginnings, the importance of the Net Promoter metric touted by Satmetrix. It’s not enough to have satified customers. What you want are customers who are loyal: the ones who’ll recommend you to their friends.
Archive for July, 2009
Tags: Amazon buys Zappos, Amazon.com, Net Promoter, NET Value book, Satmetrix, Turner DeVaughn Network, Zappos
Tags: getting a job in a recession, getting business in a recession, job search, marketing jobs, turner devaughn
Take it from recruiters such as John Younger: the more specific and narrow your focus, the better your chances for finding a job in a very tough job market. More and more people with jobs report that their own assignments, while having become more demanding, have still become more tightly defined. It’s always been open season on marketing budgets, but now more than ever. Companies, in various degrees of panic, are either (a) not spending anything, or (b) spending only on people and projects with very circumscribed definitions. Think of going out to buy a piece of clothing based on thread count. In your interview, or in your pitch for new business, the more knowledge you can get about the need that requires filling the better. Only then can you be specific and definitive about what you want to do, what you’ve done and what it produced, as in incremental revenue, new customers, and marketshare (not “awareness” ) to a degree that makes you attractive. Hiring managers, and potential clients, are under a bigger gun than ever to hire based on a list of specs. Experience shows that this doesn’t always net the best person, but it makes the hiring company feel as though it did its diligence. Pay heed.
Tags: content online, free content, Harlingen TX newspaper, newspaper subscriptions
Yes, we can understand newspapers, in small towns or big cities, charging for online content. But isn’t it a moot point? The Wall Street Journal charges, but it won’t stop anyone from pasting the headline into a Google search and reading the story for free. The paper-to-pixels model is evolving. We’re not there yet.
Tags: Carol Bartz, Elisa Steele, NetApp, Penny Baldwin, Tuner DeVaughn Network, vendor screening, Yahoo re-branding
There’s no executive in or out of the Valley for whom I have more respect than Yahoo’s Carol Bartz. Haven’t logged a whole lotta personal time with her but we overlapped at NetApp in the 1990s, she as a director and yours truly as the company’s minister of propaganda. Seriously. I have the business card to prove that this was my actual title. But back to my main point, my respect for Ms. Bartz. This is why I respectfully suggest that she do the following as part of her re-branding initiative:
1. Identify what your users believe is the single most valuable benefit Yahoo delivers. Know precisely what it is. Then design everything around this benefit, including the structure and operations of the company itself — and get rid of everything (and everybody) else. She seems to be moving in this direction, but we’ll see how far.
2. Drive the cost of adopting Yahoo services down to practically nothing. Strive to make them the standard for simplicity and adopt-ability. Make Yahoo’s stuff known as the go-to web services in search, news, entertainment, everything.
3. Make your business model and advertising structure consistent with 1 and 2 above.
OK, you’re ready to roll. I now respectfully suggest that you direct your new hires, former Y&R exec Penny Baldwin and ex-NetApp CMO Elisa Steele, to grade all creative material according to these criteria:
Is it unique to Yahoo?
Is it relevant to the user?
Can it be sustained over a lengthy period of time (long “shelf-life”)?
Is it comprehensive?
Does it lend itself to compelling communication and resonance with users?
Is it supportable internally (can it excite and energize your employees)?
Tags: Brooke Hammerling, OutCast Communications, Spark PR, Turner DeVaughn Network
No knock on the good work of the publicists and firms cited in yesterday’s New York Times, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in three decades of doing PR in Silicon Valley it is this: it’ not about your contacts, your shmoozing gene, or the technology involved in “getting your message out”. Today, this includes tweets, outreach to alpha-bloggers, etc. It’s all about the merit of the story you’re telling and the way you pitch its news value. If it’s not a good story, I don’t care who you know or how many times a day you tweet. Especially in the digital culture, it’s still about your chops for recognizing a trend and how to sell into it. It’s still about your instincts for knowing if and how what your pitching relates to something topical. Just like in advertising, it’s not about the big technology (digital video, etc.) you’re using, but the big idea you’re selling.
Other things I learned:
> The best clients make the best agencies. Good shops have always had a knack for picking winners (most of the time). See: Regis McKenna. Less-than-stellar clients were never made into stars by hot agencies. Clients typically received the PR they deserved. It was true 30 years ago when Commodore tried to challenge Apple and it’s no less true today. I’ll refrain from the lipstick-on-a-pig metaphor, but it sure as hell is appropriate here.
>Know the difference between buzz and “fizz”. Buzz is self-generating and it’s almost always associated with something of real value. Think Apple products. Fizz inevitably goes flat and it’s always associated with something of limited (if any) value. Stuff that’s contrived and inauthentic. There are countless examples.
Tags: cold calls, cold calls as distruptions, DCIA Info, DCIA trade group, distributed computing industry association, outsourcing the screening of cold calls, screening vendor calls, Turner DeVaughn Network
It’s hardly news that organizations of all kinds are finding ways to cut costs today and trying to boost productivity. But they realize that some amount of a vendor’s unsolicited outreach is appropriate and potentially useful, even if it’s a drag on productivity. They key is to screen the solicitation for conformance with the real requirements of the organization. Outsourcing the receipt and screening of cold calls is one solution.
To weigh-in with your thoughts on cold calls, click here to take our brief survey.
Participation in the survey may represent a significant step forward in establishing a solution within your industry. Outsourcing is one option and free-of-charge when the service provider charges the callers. The service screens the calls for relevance and value and reports the findings back to the parties who are called. They key is to screen the solicitation based on the needs of the business.
Screeners can’t make cold calling go away, but they can unburden you and ensure that work time is devoted to actually accomplishing work.
Note: the Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA), has adapted these posts and published them here.
Tags: Holcutt Associates
Cold calls? Just put them into voicemail, you say. Think again, we say.
Consider this: B2B telemarketers are trained to leave at least seven voicemail messages before they give up, according to telemarketing consultant Holcutt Associates. Deleting unwanted voicemail messages just compounds the problem.
When they do get through, cold callers estimate that they spend about ten minutes talking to gatekeepers or decision-makers — who rarely, if ever, buy anything. So that adds up to almost 100 hours a year that these recipients could have spent doing something more productive.
According the International Association of Administrative Professionals, the greatest job challenges cited by office assistants — often subjected to handling the call — are having to juggle multiple priorities, deal with difficult people, and lack of time to handle the volume of work. Having to service cold calls hardly enhances their productivity.
Respondents to a recent survey said that the growing volume of telemarketing calls they received at work made them “angry”. Not so much because of the interruption, but that so many cold callers fail to offer real value to the companies they call.
“Too many I.T. vendors still get it wrong when it comes the things that customers value,” said Robert Hamilton, product marketing director at Symantec and a marketing veteran at H-P and NetApp. “When your outreach is guided by what a piece of technology can do, rather than why a specific customer would need it, you’re bound to be misguided.”
Especially in information technology and distributed computing , products and services are not easily explained in a telephone conversation.
The current environment has made the problem worse. More vendors resort to cold calling. Fewer targets are receptive. And they are not just weary of cold callers, but wary of them. The National Fraud Information Center says that telemarketing fraud amounted to $40 billion in 2008.
It’s a problem. And it’s getting worse. More on this topic tomorrow.
Tags: Cloud Computing Inc., cold calling, cold calls, cold calls and productivity, Robbie Forkish, what cold calls cost
Telemarketers’ “cold calls” aren’t just annoying. They’re bad for business. How bad? Read on.
Ridding ourselves of such calls at home has been a hot issue for years. Small wonder. They’re intrusive and generally annoying, but there are remedies. At work, it’s a slightly different story, but the interruptions are no less irritating. At home they’re an inconvenience. At the office it’s an economic issue. They can cost your organization thousands because they eat up time. The full cost may surprise you.
Yes, there are managers whose job descriptions call for being current on new technologies, products and services, especially if they boost productivity or create a competitive edge. So a vendor hawking one of them may be worth a conversation. But, generally speaking, are unsolicited conversations with vendors useful? Or are most of these calls the telephonic equivalent of unwanted “junk” mail (only more harmful to productivity)?
“Our approach to selling is very personal and very much focused on relationships we already have,” said Robbie Forkish, co-founder of Network Equipment Technologies and currently the founding CEO of Cloud Compliance. “But the reality is that many vendors, large and small, in their eagerness to reach out, don’t always do their basic homework.”
Business-to-business telemarketers made about 36 billion cold calls last year and the number will increase in 2009. This amounts to 600 calls for every single business entity in America. Of course, the bigger and more prominent the target, the more cold calls it will receive. An I.T. executive we know at a large insurance company got about 100 calls per week in 2008.
So, you say, just put them into voicemail, right? Consider this: B2B telemarketers are trained to leave at least seven voicemail messages before they give up, according to telemarketing consultant Holcutt Associates. Deleting unwanted voicemail messages just compounds the problem.