Find me on Twitter

You’ll notice the content in this blog is a bit…well…aged?  Yes, guilty as charged. That’s because Twitter is the main place to hear me rant and rave now about all things marketing, education and healthcare. Pop on over and engage with me there @ChargeAheadMktg anytime.

Privacy Mistakes, Part 1

Mistakes are bound to happen, no matter what. In a fast-paced marketing team, details do get missed and things happen that, while ultimately preventable, are inevitable.

Certainly, how you recover and manage damaged relationships is critical in any situation. Sure, there are measured actions to take for crisis control on serious issues. Yet it doesn’t always have to be an enterprise-level problem in order to damage customer relationships, and no matter if the issue is big or small, when measures are taken to resolve the issue it can lead to backlash if not positioned or implemented correctly.

One of the most sensitive issues is the security of data. For purposes of this blog post, let’s say it’s marketing data. Specifically, let’s say it’s your email database. Your customer email addresses are valuable — priceless, even. And surely, your customers would rank the privacy of their data as a pretty high priority. What do you do when, say, one of your sales reps sends out an email to your entire customer list, yet instead of blind copying everyone he makes the email addresses visible to all? That’s what happened to me recently — although, thankfully, the sender wasn’t from my company, my email address was in his list for all to view. Here’s the message I got later in the day:

I would like to sincerely apologize to everyone blind copied here for accidentally delivering a mass email earlier today with your email address visible.

Needless to say, I am deeply embarrassed my error.

If there is something I can do to rectify any inconvenience that my hastiness may have caused, please do not hesitate to let me know.”

Is that sufficient enough a reply for you?

Ponder that question and let me know your thoughts, and I’ll answer the question myself in my next post.

The New Four P’s of Marketing — Part 3

So, we’ve looked at Proof and Presence and why they’re the lead tandem in the New Four P’s of Marketing.

Now let’s look at what you need once you have Proof and Presence: some Persuasion.

  • Persuasion — What good is Presence if you don’t use it wisely? If you don’t use it to demonstrate your Proof to potential customers? That’s what Persuasion involves: using your Presence effectively to deliver your Proof and persuade customers to, well, become your customers.
    How do you persuade? Well, I’m not suggesting you do anything that’s not genuine, as the word persuasion is sometimes viewed. What I mean is you need to develop market knowledge and a customer-first mentality, and leverage it to be an expert and give customers a reason to trust and do business with you.
    What kind of knowledge? Data and statistics about your market and about your customers. Unique experience or perspective. Customer needs and how to address them. Hell, even just having an opinion is market knowledge and worth something in terms of mental capital with customers. Even a forum or community on your site can be knowledge, even if it doesn’t come from you — if you bring customers together to discuss things and share thoughts, you’re the driving force behind their connection. You’re an expert.
    How do you leverage it? A variety of ways. Start a blog, and use it to craft an authoritative perspective. That’s Persuasion at its best, when your organization’s leaders — and even its front line people — share their expertise with customers via social media. That’s real enagagement. You can start an enewsletter, develop white papers, open Twitter accouunts, build a unique content area of your website. It may seem like irrelevant effort if it’s work that doesn’t focus on your products or company. But it’s not. You have to make a case for customers to trust you. You have to persuade them why you’re relevant, why you’re the best choice. Showing them Proof and having a Presence isn’t enough — you must deliver content and perspective that makes the case.
    Aggregating and sharing this knowledge is the Persuasion that helps you keep customers that your Presence found for you.
  • Next post discusses the final new P: Price.

The New Four P’s of Marketing — Part 1

In a way, it’s not even appropriate to say “Things change fast” any more. It’s like saying “The sky is blue” or “AT&T sucks” or something else equally obvious.

Change is such an engrained part of the marketing landscape now, sometimes things change and you don’t even notice. Hell, you even start doing things the new way without even missing a beat or sometimes acknowledging the change. Stakes are so high and time is so precious. You evolve in real time and stop at some point later to reflect and evaluate what you did and how it performed.

The Four P’s are one of marketing’s hallmark principles. For decades, marketers were raised on Product, Price, Place and Promotion as the backbone strategic drivers behind what we do. And since so much of marketing was driven by companies and not customers, there was never a need to evolve. The Four P’s have driven our education, our strategy and our tactics for years.

Enter the rise of social media and the connected customer.

Now, even the Four P’s of marketing — the pillars of our discipline — have changed. Companies, marketers and our co-owned strategies have to find and keep customers using a new set of driving principles. It’s time to relearn what we do, whether you like it or not. We have to embrace a new Four P’s of Marketing: Proof, Presence, Persuasion and Price.

We’ll look at each one in-depth in a four-part series of posts.

  • Proof — It’s no longer good enough to just produce a product, put a price on it and put it out there. That’s recipe for failure.  In an era of ultra-competition, you have to prove that your product or solution is the right one. That you’re reliable and ethical. That you provide a unique value or experience. That you’re consistent. You may even have to prove many things to many people depending on your customers’ values. For example, that you’re service-oriented or socially conscious or financially sound (especially now). You have to prove that your product is right too — that it’s meant to solve a customer’s problem or need, that it’s quality, that it’s worth their time.
    Hell, even when the customer believes your product is right, even if they believe what you stand for, you have to prove that you offer the best place to buy it — several other options are always a nanosecond away online. How many mashup sites are there that compare product prices for people?  Several dozen, maybe.  So you have to prove your retail or online experience is all the things discussed above also.
    Plus. how you prove it matters. Do you engage customers where they live and communicate, or do you implore them to come to you? Do you blare monologue or encourage dialogue? Are you reactive or interactive? You can’t just say something and call it Proof — you have to engage customers in conversations and meaningful interactions, and let them decide and label it.  That seal of approval — the customer-driven one, the viral one –is worth more than any other.
    Experience matters too. If you have a great product yet a lousy purchase process, you lose. A great event with a lousy registration process, you lose. A great retail store with average service or vanilla employee passion, no way.  A slick-looking website with poor functionality, you lose. Excellence matters, from first contact through shopping cart checkout, upsell messaging to customer service, website personalization to employee friendliness.  It all has to be right.  Otherwise the only thing you’re proving is that you know how to get it wrong, you know how to do it the old way.
    Hence, Proof now leads off the Four P’s of Marketing.

Stay tuned for a look at the next P soon: Presence.

A Post to Remember the Fallen of 9/11

You typically read about all kinds of marketing in this blog.

Not on 9/11, not this year.

I signed up for a great cause, Project 2,996. It rightfully seeks to shine the light on the victims of 9/11, instead of the heartless radical cowards who caused it.

As part of Project 2,996, the person I am writing a tribute to is Luis Eduardo Torres. An immigrant from Mexico, Luis started with nothing and worked his way up to being a senior broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, a job he ironically started on September 10, 2001. He was a bikerider, hiker and skydiver. This was a man who paid his dues, worked hard, and had accomplished alot. There are a few more details on Luis on his page at Legacy.com, and several people have left beautiful comments in the guestbook.

Take a good, long look in the mirror today. Enjoy the day, breathe the fresh air. Tell your family you love them. Find something you’re passionate about and charge ahead after it.

Because you never know what will happen tomorrow.

Charge Ahead Blog Top 10 Posts

I launched the Charge Ahead blog a year ago, and have enjoyed sharing many a random thought about marketing. Many semi-organized ones too. So much has changed in the field of marketing, even in just a year.

To celebrate my blog’s one year birthday, I took a good, long look and gathered a list of my top 10 posts over the last year.

I thank you for your readership, and am ready to charge ahead with continued posts over the next year for you.

The Future of Content, Part 2

In a recent post, I discussed how marketers have a role in the future of content. Sitting here on yet another JetBlue flight, I came across two articles that highlight this position even further.

I’m reading an issue of Medical Marketing & Media — it’s actually a recent issue for a change, typically I’m catching up on magazines two or three months later. The first article touches on the launch of FacetoFace Health, an online community that lets patients find other patients based on similar conditions or medications. Many times, this is exactly the kind of content people want — not second-hand knowledge pieced together through interviews and research. Interviews that people can now do first-hand via Facebook, Twitter and other social networking communities. And research, mind you, that people can do themselves online via robust tools like Wikipedia. The FacetoFace site, like many social media sites, provides first-hand interaction with people based on experience, interests, likeness or non-likeness, or anything else. Your agenda…not someone else’s. It’s a real-time, ever-changing window into a give-and-take world of content. If you’re a marketer, talk to your customers, find out what they need to know or who they want to know, and build a community that delivers it. Welcome to the future of content.

The other article is written by a PhD and entitled “Healthcare journalism needs a recovery plan.” My impression (no evidence whether it’s accurate since I’m on a plane and can’t research it) is that this person isn’t an active participant in social media, and thereby not destined to be an active part of the future of content. A few pearls of wisdom from the article center on a new survey of healthcare journalists. 65% say the quality of health coverage is fair or poor, 48% think health journalism is heading in the wrong direction, 43% say training opportunities have declined. Really? The training opportunities have declined? When whole new communities like FacetoFace spring up overnight? Are they thinking about social media as an opportunity to get “trained” every day on meeting customer wants? Obviously not.

I can see why they feel journalism is headed in the wrong direction — because customers are now in control of content and where they get it. As I said in my earlier post, they want different types of content from different types of content providers. Time and again it sounds like journalists don’t see that journalism, in it’s traditional form, isn’t as tethered to the future of content as it once was. But the opportunity is there to them to take a good, long look and evolve and be part of it, just like it does for marketers.

Because comments like this one in the article sure aren’t the way to charge ahead into the future of content:

I’m going to hope that we’ll see demand for health and science reporting increase as we continue to shake off some of the anti-intellectualism that has bogged us down.

HUH? I guess I’m not an intellectual, because unlike those who think journalism is just going to bounce back, I’m with all the other marketers who are helping building solutions to meet customer demands in the future of content.

Wake up and maybe we’ll see you there.