Read an online article regarding the new iPhone 4S and don’t be surprised if you see an ad for T-mobile. As you may know, T-Mobile is the only major cell-phone provider that doesn’t sell an iPhone.
So why advertise around content for a product you don’t have? Maybe it’s to get your attention about the benefits T-mobile has over AT&T, Verizon and, now, Sprint like unlimited data, text and talk on the “largest 4G network”.
On the one hand T-mobile is capitalizing on content in which people are interested. On the other hand, a large proportion of “iPhone news” readers are iPhone owners or plan on being one soon.
Is this a smart, targeted move by T-mobile or is it a waste of their marketing budget?
Netflix knows its future is in video streaming, but its roots exist in DVDs. So how do you nudge consumers to wean themselves off of lower margin DVDs to the higher margin streaming videos?
Introducing Qwikster, a knee-jerk reaction to a disastrous price increase announcement that was met with even greater consumer disdain. Many people put Qwikster up there with New Coke – but it might have been the right idea – just poorly executed.
Creating a separate business for DVDs will allow Netflix to buffer itself from a business model that (over the long-haul) will most likely decline. In creating this new division, however, they didn’t connect the old Netflix to the new Qwikster, so a consumer had to set up their preferences, waitlists, cues and billing data all over again. It makes you wonder if they were following the online banking model, which makes it so cumbersome to switch banks, that they expected subscribers to begrudgingly switch to streaming Netflix over setting up a new DVD account…)
All Netflix had to do was allow customers to conduct a simple transfer for a limited period of time, and they would have been less likely bothered by the change. Furthermore, providing an incentive to try the new technology (following the lead of the airlines when they introduced online booking) would have helped ease the pain.
So what can you learn from Netflix?
- Think about all the ramifications of significant changes in your business
- If the initial reaction to a major change is negative, take time to let it sink in. Sometimes it just takes time for people to adjust to change.
- Limit the knee-jerk reactions – they never seem to work out as you’d like.
I do not like the new Tide 2X. No matter how little I use, soap remains in dense fabrics, such as towels, and I can’t get it out. My daughter and I both have noticed that our clothes feel “itchy” with the new Tide. I have used Tide all my life, but I may have to change to something else, since I can no longer get “regular” Tide. Have others noticed this also?
Judy, Salt Lake City, UT
I used this product on a shirt of my husbands that had a new stain on the front. Bottom line stain is still there, I’ve used other products that worked much better than this one did. I would not recommend this product to anyone.
Miata, Waverly, NE
Companies don’t like to hear comments like these, or worse learn such comments are being shared with other people.
But those quotes weren’t pulled from a focus group nor from blogs, they were available on Tide’s home page from actual customers providing feedback regarding Tide’s products.
To take things a step further, Tide provides a slew of product reviews for all of its products so consumers can make an educated decision about the product in which they are interested.
In a time when consumers are asking for transparency (see SC Johnson’s new campaign about their ingredients) and using the social web (ie Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Blogs) to share their thoughts, you have three choices:
- Ignore it and hope it goes away. (It won’t)
- Listen to what people are saying and respond in a defensive manner
- Embrace it and use it to make your products better and your brand more trusted.
Let me know what companies you think are being brave in their marketing.
Stereotypical Employee Photo
A recent WSJ article noted that 10% of Microsoft employees (about 10,000 people) use iPhones to access their email, an interesting statistic when many smart phones that run on a Microsoft platform are available.
Closer to home, after canceling Comcast cable for AT&T U-verse, Comcast sent a rep out to pick up my equipment. In conversation, he revealed that he uses Direct TV at home, instead of Comcast, because Comcast did not offer discounts to employees and DirectTV was more affordable.
Both stories got me thinking: While your employees can certainly sell your product without using it, imagine how much more effective they can be if they actually use your product as well.
What can you do to ensure your employees become advocates for your products/services?
- Make Employees Customers. Even if you have to subsidize the product, make sure your employees use your product over a competitor’s. Car dealers have “dealer” cars so their sales people can speak intimately about the products they are selling based on their own experiences.
- Educate. Let your employees know everything about your product (good and bad). Don’t let them find out about any functions or problems from a customer. When the latter occurs, it can cause unnecessary conversations among the employees about the quality of your product.
- Transparency. Communicate with your employees regularly about your services. If you are making changes, tell them why. It will help them better communicate with consumers.
- Let Them Compare. You want your employees loyal to your products, so encourage them (and even subsidize) using a competitive product/service. This will allow them to see how your product is different and will help in emphasizing your product strengths from a personal experience.
- Ask for Feedback. When your employees are using your products/services, you now have a in-house focus group to gain learnings on how to improve your offerings. Asking for their feedback, and acting on it, will foster loyalty among employees and ultimately create a better product.
No matter how good your product or service, your employees are integral to selling the product and connecting with the consumer. Give them every opportunity to get to know your products and services better, and your efforts will pay off in so many ways.
I am often asked by my clients how they should structure sales commissions for both full-time and part-time sales people.
I found a great resource on Inc. magazine’s website. They also provide tips on hiring, leadership, management, finance, technology, marketing and the overall running of a business.
It is worthwhile to check out.