The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Rethinking Your Viral Marketing Strategy: Why Building a Solid Online Marketing Foundation Should be Your First Priority, Not A Funny Video


There are times companies hire me to evaluate their online marketing strategies. Essentially, they want to better understand the potential impact of their efforts and if there are any holes in the strategy at hand. When an idea for a viral marketing campaign crosses my desk, the first thing I like to do is gain access to the company’s web analytics package and start analyzing site performance. Based on the hit or miss nature of viral marketing, my hope is that I immediately see a consistent level of quality traffic (based on conversion) from a number of traffic sources. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case and it’s the first red flag. Then, since viral marketing campaigns usually need a kick-start, I review how strong of a presence the company has on various social networks. Again, my hope is to see a solid presence and strong engagement via blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Once again, that’s not always the case and could be extremely problematic for the company I’m helping. Based on what I explained above, here’s a question to think about (and one I’ll address in the rest of the post):

Continue reading this post>

Say Cheese Please - How The Right Marketing Campaign About Lactose Intolerance Could Add $1.8 Billion To The Cheese Industry Annually


Marketing lactose free cheese in the United States.Hi. My name is Glenn Gabe and I’m lactose intolerant. That’s right, me and about 40 million other Americans. Although it’s not the worst thing that can happen to you, it’s definitely a bit of a downer. I was 32 when I figured out that I was lactose intolerant, and that’s also when I learned how much of a nuisance it was to exclude certain foods from my diet. And those foods were some of my favorite things to eat, including milk, cheese, pizza, ice cream, to just name a few. Cheese, in particular, is in so many foods and meals that you eat on a regular basis, that it’s almost impossible to avoid. Now, that’s assuming that I really do have to avoid cheese. More on that shortly.

What is Lactose Intolerance?
For those of you not that familiar with lactose intolerance, here’s a quick rundown. Lactose is the sugar found in milk. Lactase is the enzyme that your body produces to break down lactose. Lactose intolerant people don’t produce enough lactase to break down the lactose they ingest. And if it’s not broken down, it causes problems (to varying degrees). For most people the symptoms aren’t horrible, but can be more of an annoyance. Since milk is a core ingredient of cheese, you would think that cheese would cause serious problems for lactose intolerant people. Not so fast...

Cabot is Sharp (And I Mean Smart)
I was making lunch about a month ago when it happened. I’m typically stuck using some flimsy science cheese for my sandwiches or choosing from the anemic selection of lactose free cheeses available. That day my wife ended up taking out her favorite cheese, which is Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar. By the way, that’s like dangling a gourmet sandwich in front of a person that’s been stranded on an island for 5 years. :) After a quick glance at the cheese, I wiped the drool from my face and went back to my science project, I mean lunch. That was until my wife glanced at the side of the Cabot packaging. She noticed a small message on the side of the package that read “Lactose FREE”. Huh? I dropped my sandwich on the floor and ran over. Was this a mistake? Are they messing with me? I checked to make sure I wasn’t being punk’d and then I started doing some research.

Cabot's Packaging Promotes Lactose Free Cheese:
Cabot Labeling Showing Lactose Free Cheese.

After doing some searches, I couldn’t believe what I was reading… It ends up that MOST aged cheeses are lactose free. From what I gather, the aging process yields cheese with either very low amounts of lactose or 0 grams of lactose. That includes cheddar, swiss, romano, provolone, etc. Needless to say, I was ridiculously excited. I’m not sure if all the cheeses listed have 0 grams of lactose, but most have such a low amount that they cause no problems for lactose intolerant people.

Where Were The Cheese Companies?
Then it hit me…why in the world aren’t cheese companies promoting this? Is there some reason they don’t want people to buy more of their cheese? Why didn’t I know about this? And why doesn’t the greater lactose intolerant community know more about this? I know quite a few people that are lactose intolerant, and I’m convinced that few of them actually know what they can and cannot eat! While doing my research, most of the search results were to forums and question and answer sites where people like me were asking questions about lactose free foods. Almost none of the major players in cheese ranked for the topic. Finlandia did have a page about how its cheeses were naturally lactose free, which is great, but I think more needs to be done…

The Revenue Implications of Smart Marketing
I couldn’t help but think of the massive revenue impact of effectively promoting this message to targeted people. How could cheese marketers get the word out via a number of channels?

A Target Market of 40 million lactose intolerant people…
I don’t know about you, but a target market of between 30 and 50 million lactose intolerant people provides a pretty darn good opportunity. And the fact that many of those people are dying to eat the foods they once loved (like cheese) makes it even a stronger opportunity. If cheese manufacturers or the cheese industry, decided to launch a thorough marketing and education campaign, I can only think they would strike gold. Simply getting the word out that most cheeses are low in lactose, and many are lactose free, could be a windfall for the cheese industry. There’s actually nothing to sell… your target market wants to eat cheese. They just can’t eat it (or so they think). A well-crafted campaign combining TV, Viral Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Search Marketing, Blogger Outreach, etc. could be huge for the cheese industry. It could be a cheese extravaganza!

Here’s an example of how simple it could be given the desperate eating state of most lactose intolerant people are. Jim and Laura work together:

Jim: Hey Laura, you can’t eat cheese, right?
Laura: Yes, unfortunately I’m lactose intolerant… Are you rubbing it in?
Jim: No, I just saw a video on YouTube explaining that most cheeses are low in lactose and many have no lactose at all… You should check it out.
Laura: WHAT?? Get out of my way! {She tackles Jim to get at his computer, clicks play on YouTube and shoots out the door to the store to buy 16 blocks of aged cheese.}

Revenue Lift: Now That’s A Lot of Cheddar
Let’s do the math. If you reached even 25% of lactose intolerant people in the United States, and they ended up spending an additional $15 per month on cheese, then you are looking at a lift of $1.8 billion per year. That’s a lot of cheddar, pun intended. :)

40 million lactose intolerant people in the US
25% = 10 million people
10 million x $15 per month = $150 million per month
$150 million per month x 12 months = $1.8 billion per year in additional revenue

Moving Forward
If I ran marketing for a cheese company and I was looking for ways to increase revenue, I would launch a killer campaign that engages the lactose intolerant market. Why try and get a .5% lift from the people who already buy and eat cheese when you can get a much greater lift from people that are dying to eat cheese, but just THINK that they can’t.

Now that would be sharp. :)

GG

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Domino’s YouTube Video and the Ripple Effect on Fast Food Restaurants


The infamous Domino's YouTube video and its impact on fast food.My guess is that you’ve heard about the appalling Domino's YouTube video by now. It’s the one featuring two employees performing some disgusting acts to ingredients as they prepare orders for customers. For example, one employee sticks pieces of cheese up his nose while making a sandwich with that very cheese. And if you watch the video, it only goes downhill from there. The employees then decided to upload the video to YouTube for the entire world to see. You know, because nobody visits YouTube, so they probably wouldn't get in trouble, right? :) The videos (which I won’t link to from this post) went viral, which ignited a PR firestorm for Domino’s on a massive scale. Patrick Doyle, the President of Domino’s, released his own YouTube video explaining more about the situation, but the damage had been done. The two employees have been charged with felonies for food tampering, and I believe Domino’s is considering filing a civil suit against them (although what could you really get other than a moral victory.)

I've been asked at least one hundred times over the past few weeks what I think the impact will be on the Domino's brand? Will the incident impact sales? How long before people forget about it? Is it already over? These are all great questions, but I unfortunately don't have a crystal ball. That said, you don't have a to be a Harvard MBA to know this will impact sales, it has tarnished the brand, and it will ultimately lead to poor business results (at least in the short term). And yes, this was all done by two people (jerks) who are now learning a hard lesson...but unfortunately at the expense of Domino's.

Becoming Part of the Domino’s Case Study
Let’s see how an incident like this really impacts a brand and a business. It's one thing to project how this will impact sales, the brand, etc. and it's another thing to become part of the case study. Last Thursday I ended up taking a later train home from New York and knew I wouldn’t have much time to make dinner. As I was ready to get off my train, I decided that I would quickly pick something up on my way home. I got off the train and knew there were a few fast food restaurants right by the train station. This is where it got interesting.

As recently as a few weeks ago, I would have no problem making a quick stop at one of the fast food restaurants to pick up some dinner. But this time was different. The first thought that hit me was of the two Domino’s employees messing with the food they were preparing. I feel horrible saying that, but that image was simply the first thing that came to mind. I could not for the life of me get that image out of my head. As I walked to my car, I couldn’t get over it. That's when I pulled out my Blackberry and ended up ordering a much more expensive dinner from a restaurant in my area (even though I knew that I would have to wait 20-30 minutes to pick it up.) Yes, I decided to spend four times the amount of money and wait an extra 20-30 minutes in order to avoid fast food restaurants. As I waited for my food at the restaurant, I started to think about how many other people this might have happened to. How many people were about to order from Domino’s, stop off at Taco Bell, visit a Burger King, and then thought of the infamous Domino’s YouTube video? How much revenue has Domino’s lost? And beyond Domino’s, how much revenue is being lost by the fast food category based on what happened? I believe there is a ripple effect from the Domino’s incident.

Could It Happen Anywhere?
Listen, I'm not naive enough to think that more expensive restaurants are free from food tampering. But, I did work in restaurants growing up and I know what an Executive Chef is like... Most are fanatical about their kitchen and their reputation. They run a tight ship and would probably physically harm anyone on their staff that pulled the sort of stunt that the two Domino’s employees pulled. So, when I thought about where to buy my dinner, I went with the higher end restaurant with the Executive Chef who would saute any person who thinks it’s funny to stick cheese up his nose and use it while preparing a dinner (or worse). I’m sorry Domino’s, I really am, but I'm not sure I can get over this so quickly...

How Many Glenn's Are Out There And How Much Money Is Being Lost?
Let’s say there were 50,000 people in the United States like me who decided to bypass fast food restaurants for lunch or dinner. Next, let’s estimate that they would have spent ~$25 per month. That’s probably a few meals at a fast food restaurant.

50,000 people x $25 per month x 12 months would be $15 million in lost revenue per year.

That’s a lot of dough, no pun intended. So the two ex-Domino’s employees could be responsible for approximately $15 million dollars in lost revenue annually. And that doesn’t take into account the damage to the brand… Amazing, isn’t it?

In closing, I feel horrible for Domino’s. They don’t deserve this. In addition, I’m not sure their competitors are benefiting either… If there are others like me, and I’m sure there are, they are running for the hills when thinking about fast food. Personally, I’d rather dish out more money and wait on longer lines to ensure I have an Executive Chef overseeing the preparation of my dinner. How about you?

Post a quick comment below and let me know.

GG

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

From Positive to Negative Word of Mouth (WOM) in 10 Minutes on a Saturday Morning, Windsor Cleaners vs. Jiffy Lube


Positive and Negative Word of Mouth (WOM)Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM) is undeniably powerful. I’ve written about the power of WOM in the past (Boar's Head, Pabst Blue Ribbon, etc.) and I still believe that organic word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways to grow your business. And that's especially true for small businesses. Well, a few weeks ago I was able to see an example of how one business could foster positive WOM and then how another company could generate negative WOM, and all in 10 minutes on a Saturday morning. Yes, I keep a keen eye out for things like this, but it was amazing to see how I could feel so good about one company and then so bad about another in such as short period of time! After I got home that Saturday morning, I started to think about my two experiences and wanted to share them here. I’ll break down both experiences and then give you some questions to think about regarding your own company or business.

Experience 1: Fostering Positive WOM
I’ve been going to Windsor Cleaners in Princeton, NJ for a number of years now. I'll start with some some basic reasons why I go there. First, they provide an outstanding service. I know, a novel idea, right? Providing a great product or service is obviously the foundation for generating positive WOM. Next, they provide excellent customer service. Third, they go the proverbial extra mile for their customers (which is more than just providing excellent customer service and you'll read more about this below). So for me, Windsor Cleaners is starting with a solid foundation. In all the years I’ve been taking my clothes there, I have never left unhappy. In addition, they know me as soon as I walk in the door, entering my account number in their system without me having to say a single digit. I like that. I also typically bring my kids with me when dropping off my clothes, and the employees at Windsor Cleaners are always great with them. And you can tell it’s genuine, and not the BS, “oh how cute” that you hear from some people. So in a nutshell, they provide a great dry cleaning service and provide excellent customer service. Now for my Saturday morning story.

A few weeks ago, I walked in holding my 2 year old son in one arm, a pile of clothes in another arm, and I was in a hurry. I also brought in one of my winter jackets during this drop off, and I quickly checked my pockets to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything. I received my ticket, said goodbye and was on my way. I ended up taking my son to another store in the same shopping center as Windsor Cleaners. So I’m on line in the store and someone taps my shoulder. It’s one of the women from Windsor Cleaners holding my $225 pair of sunglasses. I must have left them in my coat. The woman from Windsor Cleaners tracked me down (without knowing where I was going) to make sure I had my sunglasses. That’s awesome. How easy would it be for her to just put them aside and wait for me to come in next week? Or worse, how easy would it be for someone to just take them, right? The people at Windsor Cleaners never would, but I can’t say that for everyone in this world… This was a great example of a small business going the extra mile and fostering positive word of mouth.

The Positive Impact on Windsor Cleaners
In my opinion, Windsor Cleaners is doing everything right as a small business. They provide an excellent dry cleaning service, they are nice to their customers, their employees seem happy, and they go the extra mile for their customers. Why wouldn’t you like them?? By the way, they aren’t the least expensive dry cleaning business in my area. But I don’t care. It would take a lot to get me to stop going to Windsor Cleaners… And as I’ve said in previous posts, I’m a WOM machine. If I like something, you can’t shut me up about it. I blog about it, tell people at work, tell my friends and family, etc. So, you bet I tell people about Windsor Cleaners. It’s easy… I want them to succeed.

--Next Stop, Jiffy Lube For An Oil Change (Just 5 minutes down the road.)--

Experience 2: Creating Negative Word of Mouth
I pulled into Jiffy Lube to simply get a fast oil change and be on my way. I got out of my car and entered the building, and then waited for someone to check my car. It wasn’t long before I heard, “Mr. Gabe, please follow me.” and that’s when my stomach turned… I’ll stop for a second and ask you if you already know what I’m referring to? I bet some of you do… Actually, I know some of you do (more on that soon).

Are you ready for a Jiffy sales pitch?
And the game begins… I’m holding my 2 year old son and I follow the person from Jiffy Lube out to my car. Now I’m in front of a monitor in the middle of Jiffy Lube’s garage. How nice. :) In a matter of seconds, you are being pitched all sorts of products and services for your car, from the infamous air filter, maybe a cabin filter, something about your fuel injectors, and then some type of engine flush. Really?? First of all, if I was to have something like that done, it probably wouldn’t be at Jiffy Lube. They rush you through the process, hoping for the uncomfortable, “ok, I guess so”. They pull out your air filter to show you how “dirty” it is, and push you just hard enough that you feel like you’re being swindled. I hate that feeling, and I hate their process. They point to the monitor and show you some data about how your car hasn’t gotten this in six months or how you haven’t done that in one year. And of course they don’t tell you pricing while taking you through all that’s wrong with your vehicle. You actually have to ask for pricing (if you’re even lucky enough to retain half of what they threw your way.) I hear this pitch every time I get my oil changed, and to be honest, I'm tired of it.

Forcing Customers Through This Process Is Not Good For Jiffy Lube…
The process I just explained above is where Jiffy Lube goes wrong. I don’t feel confident that I need most of what they are pitching. Do I need some of it? Probably so, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t trust them. I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed a process that makes me feel so negative, so quickly. Then you’re forced into the awkward situation of declining what they just rattled off, and it’s even a little embarrassing. I can’t imagine that anyone at Jiffy Lube would want it to go down this way. Do you?

Breaking This Down Marketing-Wise
Does Jiffy Lube provide a good oil change service? I think so. I’ve never really had a problem. Their pricing is ok and their employees are generally nice. But, I don’t get a good feeling about going to Jiffy Lube. I think it all comes down to the cheesy sales pitch you get every time you bring your car in… Does anyone in marketing at Jiffy Lube understand how this impacts their brand? I don’t feel loyal to Jiffy Lube. Actually, I could go somewhere else for an oil change 3000 miles from now and not even give it a second thought. By the way, if you’re thinking that an additional air filter can’t generate a lot of revenue, you’re wrong. Start doing the math based on how many locations they have any how many estimated customers get oil changes each day. It sure adds up, but at what long term cost to the company? Jiffy Lube might have generated an extra $20 this time, but what if they lose my business forever? That would be thousands of dollars that Jiffy Lube would stand to lose (and just from one customer).

So Jiffy Lube, please stop the madness. Go visit your locations and see what goes on. I’ll guarantee that you’ll want to change how the process works. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t make sure people have the right information and get the right products or services, but there has to be a better way to do it without making people feel like they are being ripped off. Actually, go to Windsor Cleaners and see how they treat their customers. :)

The Power of the Web Tells Me That…
I’m not the only one that feels this way. I found out that many others feel the same exact way. I tweeted about my last experience on Twitter and received some quick replies and direct messages from others that don’t like the process either. It’s funny, I didn’t mention what was pitched and their messages all revolved around the air filter sales pitch! I found that interesting…so I started doing some Google searches. That’s when I found this, this, and this. Oh yeah, and this, this, and this. Uh, an entire site dedicated to Jiffy Lube problems and it ranks #1 for jiffy lube air filter? (see screenshot below) And there were dozens of more listings too. By the way, enter Jiffy Lube Air Filter in Google Blog Search. You’ll find some interesting stories.

Search for Jiffy Lube Air Filter on Google

Let me tell you, if I worked at Jiffy Lube, this would be one of the first things I fixed. They seriously need a Customer Service Czar, and now. Someone who comes in with guns blazing and fixes this problem. The power of WOM is undeniable, but the fact that Jiffy Lube has a reputation management problem is also undeniable. It actually makes me wonder what’s getting in the way of fixing the problem… So, the next time you hear a pitch for an air filter at Jiffy Lube, think twice. Maybe you need it, but maybe you don’t.

Think About Your Business…
Is there any part of your business that actually annoys your customers? Do you help generate negative word of mouth? Take a hard look at all your customer touch points, ask your customers for real feedback, and change anything that can be generating negative word of mouth NOW.
So I think it's clear that Jiffy Lube can learn a lot from Windsor Cleaners about customer service. But more importantly, how much can you learn from them?

GG

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Best Buy In Store Pickup 2, Would the Sequel Be Better than the Original (for Once)


Best Buy In Store Pickup, The Second ChanceI’m a nice guy. Really, I’m not kidding… I don’t want to complain about companies, products or services. Actually, I love coming across a product or service that I like and that I believe in. And, I’m the type of person to tell everyone I know. I’m definitely a word of mouth marketing machine for the products and companies I like. It’s just in my blood. So, when I tried Best Buy In Store Pickup in 2006 (on a tight deadline), and the service bombed on me, you could imagine my frustration. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, it wasted my time, and as a result, I let the world know about it on my blog. As I stated in 2006, great concept, poor execution. But again, I’m a nice guy. I believe in second chances, and this is a post about the second chance I gave Best Buy this past weekend. My hope was that Best Buy fixed the flawed In Store Pickup system that wasted my time in 2006 and pushed me to write about my negative experience. Let’s start at the beginning with a brief description of what frustrated me in 2006.

My Problems with the Original
In 2006, I logged onto the site, found the products I needed, chose “in store pickup”, and was shown that it was in stock at the store in Princeton. Then, when I received my two confirmation emails, I was told that the products weren’t in stock. What?? So, I had to log back on and order a different product, again seeing that it was in stock. But was it? The system said the same thing last time, only to send me an email notifying me that the product wasn’t in stock… I took the chance, it ended up being in stock, and I was off to Best Buy to pick up my order. But I wasted time, wasn’t confident in the process, was frustrated, and probably could have just run out to the store from the beginning! It amazed me that a company like Best Buy didn’t have an integrated system for knowing if something was really in stock… That’s why I wrote the first post. But this post is about the sequel, the second chance I gave Best Buy. So grab your popcorn and soda and let’s find out how the sequel went.

It Doesn’t Happen Often, But the Sequel Beat the Original
I found myself in a similar buying situation last week, needing to order some products, but short on time. That’s the moment I thought I would give Best Buy a second chance. I logged onto the site, found the products I needed, chose “In Store Pickup”, quickly checked if the product was in stock in Princeton, and finalized my order. Then I eagerly awaited the two confirmation emails to see if the products were actually in stock, hoping the systems were integrated a little better than 2006… Within 20-30 minutes, I received my confirmation emails and everything was in stock. Great job Best Buy. The system worked and you saved me time. It seems like you might have improved your system for checking whether or not a product is actually in stock. The key words being “I think”… I didn’t really know that for sure and maybe I was just lucky this time. So, I headed off to pick up my products at the Princeton location, armed with my email receipt and my ID.

A Best Buy Employee Shed Some Light on In Store Pickup
In my original Best Buy In Store Pickup experience, the “In Store” part was outstanding. It was fast, efficient, and if the systems were better integrated, I could have seen using the service more often. This time was pretty similar. It was a little more crowded, but overall, it was still pretty efficient. I showed my receipt and the credit card I used to pay for the items, and picked up the products I had purchased. Again, I was happy with the service this time.

Then it hit me, let me ask the employee at the In Store Pickup desk more about the service. Maybe there’s a good reason for how they determine if something is in stock. The man helping me seemed very knowledgeable about the process, so I peppered him with questions. My first question was about the notification on the site that the product was in stock. He said, “not so fast…” The system is linked with the store, but there are several variables that could throw off the actual number. Theft was the first thing he brought up (which by the way he emphasized it, makes me think it’s a bigger problem than most people know.). He also brought up bad SKU’s or human error when entering what’s in stock at the store location. If that happened, then the system wouldn’t know if the number entered is correct or not. So, his advice was simple. If the site shows more than 5 items in stock, you’re probably good to go. That leaves some buffer for theft or human error. If the site shows 1-2 items in stock, be careful and wait for the second confirmation email, which will tell you if it’s really in stock. And by the way, Best Buy physically has an employee go and check if it’s in stock once the purchase is made on the website. That’s why it can take up to 45 minutes to receive the second confirmation email. I thanked the employee for helping me and for taking the time to explain what goes on behind the scenes with In Store Pickup. Then I left with my products.

Will There be a Trilogy? I Think So.
Was my first experience negative? Absolutely, but I didn’t fully understand the process at that point. I can argue that as a consumer, I shouldn’t have to understand the process, but putting my marketing hat on for a minute, I must take that into account. Their online system cannot determine theft or human error, at least at this point in time. I understand that and I now have a newfound appreciation for what they are trying to accomplish with In Store Pickup. Actually, I have an idea for Best Buy. Take what the employee told me and add it to the FAQ for In Store Pickup on the website. Then whenever someone chooses In Store Pickup, show that link prominently in their cart (with more than a text link that’s currently there). I’m telling you, it will alleviate a lot of frustration and confusion. Consider that my free Internet Marketing advice for the day. ;-)

Have any of you used Best Buy In Store Pickup? What were your experiences like? I’m eager to know.

GG

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pabst Blue Ribbon and Negative Brand Perception, How Word of Mouth (WOM) and Brand Evangelists Can Impact Your Business


Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer (PBR) and Brand Evangelists.As we lead up to Labor Day, and all the barbecues that go along with it, I thought it would be fitting to write a post about beer. That’s right, beer and barbecues. I don’t really drink much, but I feel like having a burger at a barbecue sometimes requires a beer. ;-) A few weeks ago, we had some of our friends over for a barbecue. One of my friends, Chris Sullivan, walked in and I noticed he had brought a mini cooler with some beer. As we started the festivities, Chris asked if I wanted a beer. “Sure, I said, what do you have?” He took out a Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) and handed it to me. --I’ll pause my story here for a second.-- Pabst Blue Ribbon? Are you serious? Did I time warp back to college? Are we stocking a fraternity party? Seriously, I was not ready to hear that brand! Then it hit me…Chris knows his alcohol. He’s a connoisseur of beer and wine. Could Chris be on to something?? Back to the story. I looked at Chris grabbing the red, white and blue can of PBR, and I asked, “Is this good?” Chris didn’t even pause. “It’s the best value on the beer market”. It’s an outstanding beer and it’s only $6 for a 12 pack. “OK, Chris, I’ll give it a shot. “ I took a drink of PBR and let me tell you, it was good. No, it was darn good! As I thought, Chris knew his stuff. Then we spent the next 10 or 15 minutes talking about Pabst Blue Ribbon, the awards it has one, how long it’s been around, etc. I also brought one over to my wife. She loved it too. And, as I looked at the 12 packs that had cost me $15 each sitting on the sidelines of our party, I couldn’t help but think that PBR may be the greatest barbecue find on the face of the earth. Yes, a bit dramatic, but I was blown away.

WOM and Brand Evangelists
Let me dissect this Word of Mouth Marketing experience for you and for Pabst Brewing Company. First, they obviously have a brand perception problem. Both my wife and I laughed when PBR was mentioned, but we ended up loving the product. So how can PBR (or any company for that matter) overcome a negative brand perception? I believe that loyal customers are part of the answer. Chris is a brand evangelist and clearly communicated the benefits of the product. In addition, Chris is a trusted source of information. It’s not like he rolled up to my house by chance, right? So, how can PBR foster Word of Mouth Marketing with the Chris’s of the world? That’s the key. I don’t think advertising would cut it for me. I would have laughed while watching a commercial, hearing a radio jingle, or being bombarded with display advertising. But Chris got through. If I were PBR, I would reach out to brand evangelists and empower them. Maybe they can set up a dedicated WOM program, empower their brand evangelists, recognize them publicly, and harness what every company is trying to harness, Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM). Seriously, it could be the most cost effective campaign they ever launched and could generate high value customers. That’s a nice segue to my next point. ;-)

PBR and Me, Second Generation WOM
How did Chris’s first generation WOM impact PBR? Well, now I won't shut up about Pabst Blue Ribbon. I’ve told dozens of people about it already, including my father in law, my brother in law, my friends and coworkers, and even random people buying beer. I’m serious, I think it’s a shame that most people don’t know how good PBR is! So, between me and Chris, PBR has 2 brand evangelists that are spreading the word like wildfire. Imagine if PBR had 100, 500, or 1000 evangelists like Chris spreading the word. Link in a PBR ambassadorship program and they’ve got themselves a serious WOM campaign. PBR, if you are listening, act on this…and fast. As a marketer, I’d be shocked if you couldn’t increase revenue significantly if you launched a program like this. Why? Because you have an outstanding product and most people don’t know it’s that good. Your brand needs help.

Help Educate Others About Your Brand
To summarize, if your product has a brand perception problem, and you truly believe that you have a great product, tap into your loyal customer base for help. My guess is that they will be happy to help you. Sure, you should structure a WOM program, but the benefits should greatly outweigh any cost involved. And, the beauty of brand evangelists is that they don’t go away when your advertising spend goes away (like paid search, tv advertising, display advertising, etc.) Chris is a powerful force of WOM for PBR, but I ask you…how many Chris’s are out there waiting to be unleashed on their respective communities? In marketing terms, it’s low cost, high value communications, with high impact results. Why wouldn’t you try this?

Now go out there and try some PBR during your Labor Day picnics! You won’t be disappointed. Feel free to come back to this post and let me know what you think of the beer. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Glenn Gabe
PBR Brand Evangelist
pbr-power@gsqi.com
1-888-PBR-POWER (ok, I’m kidding with the phone number, but the email address works!) :-)

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What the Fudge?? Survival Tips for Entering The Original Fudge Kitchen at the Jersey Shore


Surviving the Original Fudge Kitchen in Cape May, NJEvery year, my family goes to the Jersey Shore for a week. We typically go to Cape May, Avalon or Stone Harbor and we always have a blast. My kids love the beach and it’s something of a tradition for us, since we’ve been going for over 10 years now. One of the things we always look forward to is hitting the Original Fudge Kitchen in the heart of Cape May for some of the best homemade fudge you can find in the Northeast. If you know the Jersey Shore, then you’ve probably heard of the Fudge Kitchen. They’ve been featured on the Food Network, have stores in several locations at the beach, and produce an outstanding product that’s hard to rival. That said, there is a slight problem… Although they produce some of the best fudge, I dread having to walk into their shops. Why you ask? Well, they tend to frustrate their customers beyond belief. If you’re a frequent visitor to my blog, then you know I believe in trending. Well, there are several tactics that the Fudge Kitchen has employed over a long period of time that can only be categorized as fostering negative word of mouth. It’s quite ironic, since their product is so darn good!

Survival Tips for Entering The Fudge Kitchen
Consider me your Jersey Shore Survival Guide. I’m here to help you, or any other person for that matter, that decides to visit the Jersey Shore and buy fudge at the Fudge Kitchen. I’m going to give you some tips that can help make your visit to the Fudge Kitchen a more pleasant experience, while helping you keep you sanity on your vacation! :)

Let’s start with the 5 things you need to say as soon as you walk through the door of a Fudge Kitchen. You’ll learn more about why after reading the rest of my post.

1. No, I don’t want a sample.
2. Yes, it’s ok if it’s a little over.
3. No, I don’t want 2 pounds of fudge to get a free box of salt water taffy.
4. No, I don’t need it gift wrapped.
5. Yes, it’s ok if you force me to take coupons that I will never, ever use.

Practice this on the ride down to the shore. The reason I want you to practice this is because you’ll need to work fast, as a team of employees will swarm you as soon as you approach and enter the shop. :)

Without further ado, here’s what annoys customers and why:

Over Sampling:
Yes, there is such as thing as over sampling. From a marketing standpoint, I always believe that giving free samples is a good idea. Let’s face it, offering samples breaks down a major barrier in the sales process and can help convert people sitting on the fence. That said, force feeding samples is never a good idea. The Fudge Kitchen is definitely guilty of force feeding fudge samples and I think everyone can use a break from it! They have 1 person standing outside with samples and engaging people that are walking by. I think this is a good idea, but most people at the shore (especially Cape May and Stone Harbor), walk the main strip of shops over and over again. I don’t need to be asked 73 times in a week if I want fudge samples. And, it’s not just me. I hear it from many other people at the shore. It has almost turned into a joke. Then once you enter the shop, do you really need more samples? I guess so. The staff behind the counter begins asking if you want more free samples… This is where the experience starts to get annoying and you begin to think, “How fast can I get some fudge and bolt out the door?”

It’s a little over…
This one irks me on several levels. In case you’ve never been to the Fudge Kitchen, you order fudge by the pound, which is broken down by pieces of fudge. A quarter pound consists of 2 pieces, a half pound of 4 pieces, and a pound is 8 pieces of fudge. I like that…since it’s easy to pick out what you want. However, and this has been tested by everyone I know that goes to the shore and buys fudge at the Fudge Kitchen, THEY ALWAYS COME BACK OVER. In the 10 years I have been going to the shore, I cannot remember one time (that’s right, not one time) that it was either a little under or right at the amount I wanted. This too has become a joke at the shore. Everyone, including strangers outside the store, joke about it being a little over. “So, was it a little over tonight?” says the old couple sitting outside the shop on the Cape May mall. “Let me guess, it was a little over and you were ok with it?” says the young couple strolling their kids by the shop. Word of mouth marketing (WOM) is a powerful thing, but negative word of mouth can be even more powerful. I even know one woman who owns a beach house in Cape May that now demands that it not be a little over! She does this just to make a point.

Why does this annoy me so much? First, it’s a little patronizing to hear this every time you order. Second, they are obviously making more money with each transaction, so what seems like a harmless extra few ounces actually costs customers more money and makes the business additional revenue. This wouldn’t bother me if it occurred occasionally…but it’s every time you order!

2 Pounds of Fudge for 1 Free Box of Salt Water Taffy
No matter how many times I go to the Fudge Kitchen, I have to hear the sales pitch for salt water taffy. “If you buy 2 pounds of fudge, you’ll get a free box of salt water taffy!” The first 100 times was fine, but the next 473 started to annoy me. I’ve heard it so much, that it’s burned into my memory! OK, I get it…2 lbs of fudge = 1 free box of taffy…now create a sign, post it up on the counter, and let me get out of here! Upselling is one thing, but you can do it without annoying your customers.

Gift Wrapping
At this point, you’ve dealt with the over sampling, the “it’s a little over syndrome”, and the salt water taffy “deal”. Believe me, you have two things on your mind at this point, to get your fudge and get the heck out of Dodge. But, you aren’t done yet my friend. Now you’re asked if you want the fudge gift wrapped for free. Again, a nice gesture, but every single time you buy something, you have to hear this… “No, I just want to eat my fudge! You know, what I came for in the first place!” My kids are salivating, I’ve now wasted precious minutes of my life in your establishment, and I just want some freaking fudge. Ahhhhhh! Here’s a tip for the Fudge Kitchen. It’s a great idea to offer free gift wrapping, but again, invest in some signage and let people ask for it. Then you won’t frustrate your customers.

Coupon Stuffing
Now you probably think you’re in the clear, but unfortunately you’re not. Yes, you will have already started that slight walk towards the door as your order is being rung up, but the person helping you will turn around with a new time waster! Yes, now you have to hear about the coupons that you will be leaving with. Are you kidding me, Fudge Kitchen? I can’t even tell you what the coupons are for, since I typically zone out at this point, feeling woozy from the over selling, the over stuffing, the over sampling, and the over everything at The Fudge Kitchen. The last thing I remember was my wife grabbing the coupons, throwing my son over my shoulder, dragging my daughter out of the shop by her arm, and then all of us almost running over a few elderly people as we made a run for it. The Fudge Kitchen had literally driven us over the edge!

Lessons Learned:
So, if you are headed to the Jersey Shore and want some unbelievable fudge and think you’re brave enough to withstand the frustrating forces of the Original Fudge Kitchen, then follow my life saving tips below. You won’t regret it.

1. Don’t make eye contact with the sampler outside the shop. Look at your watch for an extended period of time, have your wife point to something in the sky, and then walk briskly into the shop.

2. Be prepared to accept the overage of fudge. Yes, over time this will add up and drive you crazy, but it’s probably best to enjoy the additional fudge and keep the process moving at the Fudge Kitchen so you can get the beach before the year 2046.

3. 1 free box of salt water taffy is not worth ordering 2 pounds of fudge! That’s 16 pieces of fudge! You don’t want to eat that much fudge and then have to do anything for the next week. :)

4. Bring a bunch of singles and lots of change with you. This way, you can give them the exact amount for your order and avoid two of the annoying pitfalls of the Fudge Kitchen (the gift wrapping questions and the coupon stuffing). You can grab your fudge and bolt from the store like a bat out of hell.

Quick Summary:
Again, the Original Fudge Kitchen has some of the best fudge you will find in the Northeast. Nobody questions that and it’s why I keep going back. However, as a marketer, I do question their sales and customer service tactics. Their product is so good that they really don’t need all the bells and whistles, especially when those bells and whistles actually do the opposite of what they are intended to do. They simply annoy and frustrate their customers and make them question whether or not they should return to the Fudge Kitchen. The good news is that this can change. The owners of the Fudge Kitchen can stop making their customers jump through hoops and start listening to them instead. If they do, then the sky is the limit. And more importantly, countless innocent vacationers won’t have to leave Cape May saying “What the Fudge?” ever again. :)

GG

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Twitter For Business, 4 Things You Should Be Using Twitter For Today to Help Your Business


Using Twitter to connect with your customers.I’m a big fan of Twitter, the microblogging service that has become ridiculously popular over the past year or two. Whenever I tell someone about Twitter, I typically get a strange look. That’s especially true if I started explaining how I just “tweeted” something. A few chuckles usually follow and then I typically receive my first question, “So, what is Twitter?” After explaining what the service is (and what it isn’t), I usually get the next question, “Well, how can I use Twitter for my business?” Seriously, this happens all the time…it’s definitely a trend. Enough of a trend that I was thinking about recording my response on my Blackberry and then just hitting play when needed. ;-)

I believe Twitter is a powerful tool for connecting with customers (and prospective customers) on several levels. So, after hearing the questions I listed above too many times, I thought it would be smart (and helpful) to write this post. Now, if you don’t think that Twitter can help your business (whether you are a large or small business), then please read on. I’ll provide 4 ways you should be using Twitter today (yes, today) to help your business.

Defining Microblogging, Twitter and Your Followers
Let’s start with a few definitions. Twitter is a microblogging service that enables you to send short messages (140 characters or less) via SMS, IM, Email, and even via applications that were developed for Twitter (by third parties). Most of you who have heard of Twitter probably think of SMS (or Text Messaging), since that’s the communication mechanism that’s commonly connected with Twitter, so to speak. When you sign up for the service, you can start “following” others, and they in turn, can start “following” you. When you follow someone, you receive their “tweets”, which are their short messages, which will show up in your timeline. You can also choose to have those messages sent to your mobile phone via SMS. When people follow you, they are choosing to receive your “tweets”, or messages. Sounds simple, right? It definitely is simple from that standpoint, but the power of Twitter is in how you use it.

4 Things You Can Use Twitter For Today to Enhance Your Business
And when I say “today”, I mean today. You should sign up and get moving. If you follow the four bullets listed below, I’m confident you’ll see the power of Twitter. You just need to give it a try.

1. Connect with your followers and customers, and provide VALUE to them.
Twitter provides a powerful way to keep in touch with your customers. Think about it. You can start to promote your Twitter account in all your communications, in your email signature, on your cards, on your blog, your website, etc. to start to build up your followers. Some of your customers are going to dig Twitter because they want direct and fast contact with someone at your company. Twitter provides an unbelievable way for your customers to get in touch with you, and for you to get back in touch with them. For example, let’s say you have a new product launch. You can send a series of tweets out to your group of followers. You might even have some of your followers retweet your original message, which can really help get the word out. Are you expecting a service outage as part of an upgrade? Send a tweet to your customers letting them know that the service will be down for a few hours. Think about how many calls you will save your customer service center. Again, many of your followers will have SMS turned on, which means they will get your message on their mobile phone (wherever they are), versus just email…

I’m also a big fan of educating your customers on a regular basis. Keep in mind that this shouldn’t be about self promotion (completely). It could be more about your industry. For example, send tweets to your followers about industry news, cool websites you find, helpful blog posts, new tools that launch, etc. You can stay in front of your customers by providing valuable content that actually helps them. It’s a win win. So after you sign up for Twitter, launch a quick campaign for getting your customers to follow you. Explain the benefits to them and then point them to Twitter. Gain your following quickly.

2. Twitter for Customer Service (TFCS)
This is similar to the first bullet point, but more from a customer service angle. Using Twitter, you have the ability to handle customer service issues in near real time. I’ve seen quite a few tweets from people who are upset about a product or service WHILE THEY ARE USING IT. Imagine that this was your product or service. You might have the ability to resolve an issue before it gets worse…and before they tweet more…or blog about it…and maybe, yes maybe, they become loyal customers since you handled their situation so promptly. How about questions about your service? I have seen (and been part of), questions about products or services. For example, “Which smartphone do you like best?” “Which HDTV do you guys recommend?” or “Which vacation spot do you like better, Cabo or Hawaii and why?” These are great opportunities to learn what people are saying and you can easily join the conversation (just don’t hop in and start pitching your product). If you can provide valuable information, then feel free to get in touch with the person or group in question. This could be a great way for you to connect with many influential people in an industry.

3. Twitter and PR, Monitor Tweets and Respond Accordingly
Most PR professionals are using a number of tools to monitor chatter on the web, such as Google Alerts. Twitter should be another tool in your arsenal. I can tell you first hand how representatives of companies have gotten in touch with me based on my tweets. Some of my original messages were positive and others were not, but regardless, you can benefit as a company from monitoring these messages (and any replies). For example, looking for people buzzing about your products or services? You might find a number of people on Twitter that keep tweeting about your products. Well, get in touch with them! On the flip side, if you find a person that just hammered your product or brand, get in touch with them too. Twitter can be a great way to curb negative word of mouth. Putting a human element in the mix when someone is frustrated can be a great way to nip the problem in the bud. Maybe it was a miscommunication or that customer didn’t know about the latest upgrade or product offering. A simple Direct Message within Twitter might resolve the entire situation…and they might even tweet about the positive experience after it has been resolved. You cannot be afraid of doing this… If you are, then you won’t reap the benefits of the community. It’s similar to situations where I am talking to companies about blogging and I hear the question, “But what if we get a negative comment?” If that person is you, overcome this fear…you won’t regret it.

There are some good examples of companies using Twitter to connect with customers. For example, Omniture, Comcast, and Carnival Cruise Lines. I hope to see many more companies follow their lead.

4. Connect with others in your industry.
I have met some incredible people from all over the world using Twitter, and I can honestly say that I never would have met them without using the service. Actually, it’s really funny when you connect with someone close to your location and you never knew they were there! That has also happened to me a few times. It’s pretty easy in Twitter to find like minded people. You can use third party tools to search through tweets to find people talking about specific industries, products, services, brands, etc. Once you find their profile, you can easily start following them, and then you can check out their followers. Chances are you’ll find a number of additional people to follow in a relatively short period of time. Then, those people might start following you.

Now don’t stop there… You should join the conversation and communicate with others (yes, that means 2 way communication). If you do join the conversation (and I recommend you do versus sitting there reading tweets), then you can brainstorm, get answers, share ideas, and collaborate all via Twitter. Heck, you might find new partners, business opportunities, and ways to market…all via microblogging! I bet you never thought that would happen. :)

So there you have it. 4 ways to use Twitter today to enhance your business. Is it time consuming? You bet. Will it take a little time to get used to? Absolutely. Will it also take time to build a following? Definitely. But, in the end my hope is that you will come back to this post and comment about how happy you are that you took my advice! ;-) It’s all about execution, and now you need to take action. If you are still unsure, feel free to provide your questions below (or just get in touch with me). And, don’t forget to follow me on twitter. Hey, I can be your first “follow”. :)

Tweet Tweet

GG

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Flim Flam to Protect Your Brand, How Boar's Head is Empowering Customers to Defend Their Reputation


Boar's Head Flim Flam, Empowering Customers to Defend a ReputationI heard a radio commercial today that made me wish there were DVR’s for radio. In the world of marketing, there has been a lot of talk about word of mouth marketing (WOM), empowering customer evangelists, harnessing the viral power of the web, etc. So, when I heard a Boar's Head commercial about the old “flim flam”, I couldn’t resist visiting the website. Here’s a quick rundown. Boar's Head is an industry leader, has top notch products, and has a long and proud history. About 20 years ago (according to their website), they started hearing about the old “flim flam”, where a deli owner would show Boar's Head in the deli case, but then use some cheap deli meat when actually making your sandwich. How could they, right? Anyway, Boar's Head is unfortunately seeing this trend again today…but they have decided not to sit back and let it happen. But are they fighting back? Are they sending their own Boar's Head police to delis across the United States? No, they are relying on their loyal customers to defend their brand. I love it! Customers can call an 800 number and report any deli that pulls the old flim flam. In return for being such a loyal customer, Boar's Head will reward you. With what? I have no idea, but I’m assuming they don’t want the program to be taken advantage of, so you’ll find out your reward after calling in. I think this is a brilliant program by Boar's Head. Actually, I like it so much that I’m going to keep writing! ;-)

Empowering Customers to Defend Your Brand and Products
Now, if you’ve ever had someone misrepresent you or your products, then you know how icky of a feeling it is. I don’t blame Boar's Head for trying to take control of this situation. Actually, I love that Boar's Head can rely on loyal customers, I love that they’ve earned those loyal customers, and that they are providing a mechanism for their army of meat lovers to help defend the brand they’ve worked tirelessly to build. Yes, I said army of meat lovers. Think about it in terms of your own business. Let’s say that you suddenly heard that retailers were misrepresenting your brand, promising your product and then providing some cheaper version manufactured by a lesser company. Not good, right? You get angry, call your lawyers, and swear you’ll find each and every retailer doing this. Then it hits you…there’s no way you can. There is no way you can scale your small legion of in-house do-gooders. But what if you had a loyal following of customers? What if they cared enough about you and your product that they will call out those retailers? That’s right, Jane Saunders, age 78, calling out a retail owner for not providing the right product or brand. She walks up with her cane and tears into the owner, pulling out her Blackberry Pearl and calling up your customer service center to report the immoral business owner. How powerful is that? Now, that’s an army of do-gooders that can scale! There is a catch, though…you need to have made your customers very happy over the years to earn their duty. If you didn’t provide the best possible product, service, and understanding over the years, then you'd have no army. You would be giving your Patton-like speech to the sound of crickets. So now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Do my customers like my products (and company) enough to defend them and did I earn their trust over the years?” Well Patton, now’s your moment of truth. :)

Be Like Boar's Head and Empower Your Army of Customer Evangelists
Thinking about your specific business, can a program like this help you? Can it really help protect your brand, while empowering customers, all while ensuring the quality of your products? Pretty powerful stuff if you could, right? Start to think about how you can build a program like this. What’s the cost? What reward would you give to your loyal army of customer evangelists? Is it that easy? Is it ridiculously hard? Will it backfire? These are all good questions and I’m not sure I can answer them here. But, how beautiful would that be? How confident would you feel to know that thousands of customers have your back when someone tries to do you wrong. Do you stop at protecting your products or do you ask for help in protecting your reputation, too? Is it purely offline, online, or a mixture of both? Do you provide levels to your brand protection program? Can customers build up their profiles as customer evangelists? Can they earn your version of a black belt? Sensei? Master of your brand? How far will your customers go to help you and your brand?

Do You Believe in Fighting the Flim Flam?
I applaud Boar's Head for taking these measures and empowering their loyal customers. They deserve a loyal following and they’ve worked hard to earn one over the years. I’d like to find out how the program is doing, is it working, have they found anyone taking advantage of the program, and does senior management really buy into customer evangelism? How can those answers help your business? Yes, Boar's Head has built their army of deli meat loyalists, but I have to ask you…can you build yours? I’ve posed many questions in this post on purpose and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Is Flim Flam a crazy attempt by Boar's Head or a brilliant move that will earn more customers?

The floor is yours.

GG

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Viral Marketing Campaigns


Ideas for Jumpstarting Your Viral Marketing CampaignsI’ve been having a lot of conversations about viral marketing recently and one question keeps popping up... “How do you give a viral campaign a jumpstart?” It’s a great question and one I wanted to address in this post. Although there’s not an exact formula for what type of content will go viral, you can definitely give your campaign a jumpstart by utilizing the following 5 techniques. And by the way, almost all of the techniques listed below cost nothing. That’s right…nada.

As a viral marketer, you definitely want to get your message in front of as many people as possible during your launch in order to see what sticks. Then, if you’ve crafted your campaign properly, your content has a chance to go viral. There are no guarantees with viral marketing, but your campaign just might have that hook… and if it does, then it could take on a life of its own! Let’s take a look at how to jumpstart your campaign…

5 Techniques for Giving Your Viral Campaign a Jolt:

1. Utilize Your In-House Email List
Worth its weight in gold, your in house email list can help you drive trusted visitors to your viral site extremely quickly. This is one of the easiest ways to get your content into the hands of people who already know you, have purchased from you, and hopefully receive ongoing email communications from you. The more people you can get to your campaign website during the launch, the greater chance you have of it going viral. Email marketing gives you the opportunity to clearly explain the campaign, provide details, visuals, and calls to action. And unlike some of the other methods listed below, email lets you craft your initial message. Now, what happens to that message after it starts getting passed around is a different story. :-) Last, email is inherently viral…you gave your list something to pass along (the actual email you sent!) Back to the launch…think about it, if you have an in-house list of 800,000 people and you have a click through rate of 4%, then you can start your campaign with 32,000 people hitting the site. That’s not a bad start.

2. Work with Your PR Agency or PR Department
You should definitely coordinate your viral campaign with your PR department or PR agency. You should have them craft several press releases to blast out during the first few weeks of the campaign. Chances are your PR department or agency has incredible contacts in your industry and can hopefully land you excellent coverage. In addition, using services like PRWeb can syndicate your releases across the web, helping you gain maximum exposure on blogs, forums, websites, etc. And, if you do start getting links on major blogs in the industry, they will pay off big time down the line for organic search. For example, maybe you end up landing several high Pagerank blogs linking to your campaign website. So don’t exclude PR!

3. Empower Your Employees
That’s right, your own employees can help you get the word out! This obviously has a greater effect if you are a larger organization with thousands of employees, but regardless, don’t overlook the power of your own people! You should craft an internal communication that gets people pumped up about the campaign. Make sure that the email you blast out to your employees contains all of the necessary information, including URL’s, visuals, a good breakdown of the campaign, etc. Let’s say you have 5,000 employees and they average 2.5 forwards per employee. Now you’ve got an additional 12,500 people to the site in a hurry. And since it was probably forwarded to friends at other companies, you have a chance that your link will get passed to many others. The link may go through several generations of forwarding. So don’t forget about your own employees. It’s fast, free, and can make an impact.

4. Social Media Marketing
Social Media sites are a great way to get the word out tens of thousands of people (or more). Websites like StumbleUpon, Mixx, Digg, Propeller, YouTube, and Twitter can provide a great way to gain serious exposure. There are many social media and social networking sites to choose from, and you need to find the ones that fit your specific style. Don’t be afraid, social media communities don’t bite…often. :-)

Warning:
There is a catch…
you can’t just jump on these sites and expect to generate a lot of traffic. There’s a serious time commitment involved and you really need to provide value to the community in order to gain a following. I’ve seen quite a number of people hop on a social media site and post a link to their own website and then never come back. So, they didn’t really have any friends or contacts on the site, they didn’t provide any value to the community, and simply performed a “drive by submission”. I can guarantee you that their story received no votes and didn’t generate more than 10 visitors. On the flip side, if you do spend the time building a following, if you do participate and add value to the community, then you will reap great rewards (along with meeting lots of interesting people). So, don’t be a drive by submitter on any social media website. I’m telling you, it won’t work. :-) Now, let’s say you love YouTube, Twitter and StumbleUpon and have built up a nice following in each of these communities. You now can utilize these sites and leverage your following to get the word out about your campaign very quickly. And, many of the people using these social media sites have accounts at several other sites. Therefore, you might have one person repost your link on 3 or 4 other social media sites. Believe me when I tell you that you cannot overlook social media. If you do, then you are missing a HUGE opportunity.

5. Leverage Contacts in Your Industry
I’ll keep my last point brief, since it’s pretty simple! Don’t forget to reach out to everyone you know about your new viral campaign. This includes friends, family, people you’ve worked with in the past, bloggers you know, forum owners, the guy you met at SES last year, etc. You get the point. Just craft a professional email that briefly explains your campaign, provides the necessary links, visuals, and messaging. In my experience, this is a great way to get your site in front of people who are rooting for you. They may pass it along to 10 other people, or even better, they may forward it to their entire network of friends. And, if they blog, they may write an entire post about your campaign. This can open your site up to their entire readership. Then, maybe a few people that read their post end up writing about it on their own blogs. So on and so forth. Sounds fun, right?

Are You Ready to Go Viral?
So there you have it. 5 ways to give your viral marketing campaign a jolt. These 5 techniques are free, fast, and relatively easy to set up (other than the social media marketing piece). That can’t be started at the last minute... Re-read the section about social media marketing if you don’t understand what I mean. So, spend the time crafting some killer communications for your launch, leverage some of your strongest assets (that are right under your nose), and then use these 5 techniques to help launch your campaign.

So, have you used any other techniques to give your viral campaigns a jumpstart? If so, I’d love to hear about them.

GG

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Monday, April 21, 2008

E-Commerce Customer Reviews, Common Pitfalls That Can Impact Sales


Customer Reviews and e-Commerce ImpactIf you run an e-commerce website, then chances are you’re fully aware of how ratings and reviews can impact sales. I think everyone agrees that enabling customers to review products is a powerful way to leverage user-generated content to improve the overall buying experience for visitors. That said, what constitutes a quality review, what are prospective customers looking for in a review, and how can the various types of reviews impact conversion? Not all reviews are created equal, so if you are thinking about implementing reviews on your website, I've listed four pitfalls below to watch out for. You might be able to plan your implementation with these in mind!

When Are Reviews Necessary?
Before I list the pitfalls, I also wanted to quickly explain when reviews are beneficial to prospective customers and when they aren’t necessary. I don’t really need to read a review for GAP jeans or a Banana Republic belt or a Canon calculator. We all know they are high quality and they are fairly simple items. In my opinion, it comes down to price, safety, and how a product impacts your life. Lesser known brands from smaller companies might require reviews from consumers versus bigger, well known brands. In addition, how the product will impact your life is an important factor for reviews. For example, you would probably want to read reviews for infant car seats, a high end camcorder, or an expensive piece of furniture. Price, safety, and how that product impacts your life will dictate if reviews are necessary. Again, just my opinion.

Without further ado, some pitfalls of e-commerce reviews include:

1. When there are no reviews!
If visitors are expecting to find reviews and they can’t find any for the product they are looking for, then there’s a chance they will lose confidence during the purchase process and move on. That's especially true if you boast about your website reviews! Even the slightest second thought can be a conversion killer. If you are having trouble gaining reviews from customers, then I highly recommend launching a campaign to drive more reviews. Leverage your in-house email list and get people back to your site to review the products they purchased. Heck, give them an incentive…maybe 15-20% off their next purchase in exchange for a review. Having no reviews can impact more than sales for the product at hand, it could be interpreted by visitors that you don’t have enough volume or customers to generate reviews. Again, not a good thing when someone is ready to buy from you…

2. Who is actually writing the review?
Let’s face it, customers aren’t stupid. They want to read reviews from similar people who are in similar situations. For example, anonymous reviews are close to worthless in my opinion. Depending on what I’m buying, I want to hear from someone in a similar situation (who has a name). I don’t need to know them obviously, but I want to know that it’s from a somewhat quality source. For example, whenever I buy a tech book (like a programming book), I want to hear from other developers. I have an entire bookcase full of programming books and not all were written perfectly, to say the least… So, something like, “I’ve been programming for 13 years and this book was outstanding. The chapters started with a solid foundation, then moved to basic coding examples, and then real-world coding projects. The samples always worked (don’t laugh, many programming books come with code examples that don’t work) and the book is a great reference for when I get stuck.” A review like that would get my attention. Last year, I wanted to read reviews when I was looking for a new golf driver. I definitely wanted to hear from golfers in my skill range. Hearing from a scratch golfer wouldn’t be helpful, nor would hearing from a beginner. Solid reviews helped build confidence and got me closer to the sale… Now, I still needed to blast a few golf balls at the range before buying the club! You get my point.

3. Mixed Reviews (Great reviews mixed with poor reviews).
Products that have mixed reviews will tend to give customers less confidence in moving forward with a purchase. It makes sense, right? How can there be 5 fantastic reviews and 5 horrible reviews? That’s a definite red flag for me (and others too). I wouldn’t take a risk on buying something online that half the reviewers thought was a waste of money. Would you? I’m not referring to reviews that rate a product as mediocre. I’m referring to those weird set of reviews where some people loved the item and others hated the item. Seems fishy, doesn’t it? I always move on… It also leads me to think that there’s a fake review or two in the mix… Read on. ;-)

4. Fake Reviews
I think we’ve all come across these, right? (probably written as anonymous)? It’s funny, most people can’t write a positive review if they are forced to. Don’t believe me? Go ahead…try and write a positive review for something that you don’t really like or that’s your own product. I will guarantee you that it sounds obvious. ;-) If I come across a fake review, there had better be a real one for that product…or there’s a good chance I’m moving on. My hope is that you can pick out the fake reviews, and if you can’t, then hopefully there are plenty of other reviews for the item at hand.

So there you have it, four pitfalls when offering customer reviews on your website. I definitely believe reviews are a great feature to add on your e-commerce site, but I think you should implement them with a good understanding of the types of reviews out there and how they can impact conversion, user experience, and return buyers. My hope is that you will keep these pitfalls in mind and try to form strategies to overcome them. For example, launching campaigns to increase reviews, dealing with anonymous reviews, tracking the impact of reviews, etc. When you break it down, reviews can help your customers make informed decisions, and also help you determine the right products to sell on your website. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go review the Tonka Truck I just bought my son. ;-)

GG

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Google SMS and More Mobile Marketing Ideas


Google SMS, Texting Google for Quick AnswersLast week I wrote about short code marketing and using text messaging for mobile marketing campaigns. Last year (around this time), I wrote about Goog 411, Google’s free 411 service that returns results based on its local listings. So today I figured I would combine the two concepts and write about Google SMS, Google’s way of answering your search queries on your mobile device. The short code is 466543, or “Google” on most devices. If you are unfamiliar with short codes, please check out my last post (see link above).

What it is Google SMS and What are the Benefits?
Some of you might be saying, “Why wouldn’t I just browse to Google on my mobile web device and enter my search??” Well, SMS is much faster (at least for now). Texting a quick search query using SMS, with the ability to save that query for future text messages, is a great way to get fast answers to your questions.

What types of searches can you text to Google?
You can see a quick list on the Google SMS site, but here are a few possibilities to get you thinking… How about checking the weather, the score of the Yankees game, defining a word, a stock quote, product prices, directions, flight information, currency conversions, etc. These are just a few of the searches that you can text to Google and I’m confident you are starting to see the value of Google SMS… The problem is that many people don’t even know about it. Don’t believe me? Lean over and ask your coworker now if he or she knows about Google SMS. {Glenn waiting.......OK, you're back} I bet you got a confused reaction from them, right?

To text your search to Google SMS, simple enter the search feature and then what you are searching for, like:

weather pennington, nj
score Yankees
movies 08540
price blackberry curve 8310

Cool, right? And for those of you wondering how much faster it is to text a search versus browsing the mobile web, here’s a quick test on my Blackberry Curve 8310. I’ll look up the price of a Canon Powershot G9:

Browsing the Mobile Web:
Loading browser…
Finding Google….
Waiting for data…
Yawn…
SERP returned…
Checking listings….
Finding solid listing and price for G9
Total Time: 1:25

Using Google SMS:
Texting “price canon powershot g9” to 46653
Price returned via SMS in 8 seconds
Total Time: 16 seconds

Convinced this is a smart way to go? :)

Why this is important to you as a marketer…
Because you don’t have to be Google to achieve the same results for your customers and potential customers. You can do this for your business. Think about it…you can use text messaging to quickly answer questions, no matter what line business you are in. And, the more answers you provide, the more customers and prospective customers you can make happy. The more people you make happy, the more they will talk about your business (can you say WOM)? The more they talk about you, the more business you can acquire. The more business you can gain, the more money you can generate. Do I need to keep going here?

Some SMS marketing examples:
Let’s say you run an accounting firm targeting small businesses and you want utilize SMS marketing. Maybe you can answer basic accounting questions that you know small businesses always have via your short code. i.e. text “FICA” or “1099” to {your short code here}. Help enough small businesses and maybe you build new relationships along with new clients. Do you own a car dealership? Maybe you can answer questions about pricing or features for the latest models. Are you an electronics retailer? Maybe you’ll answer top product questions. i.e. text “SPECS for IPOD Nano” to {enter your short code here}. Again, the possibilities are endless. I explained some other uses for short codes in my last post, but I’m just focusing on the search and answer model here… Do you own a chain of weight loss centers? Provide the number of calories for various products or meals. i.e. text “calories slice of pizza” to {enter your short code here}. You get the idea!

Go ahead, stir up mobile marketing at your company!
I wanted to write this post to keep mobile on your mind after my last post… (Hey “Mobile on My Mind”… sounds like a new Carrie Underwood song…) I truly believe mobile marketing will be huge and it’s basically an untapped channel right now. Heck, there are short codes just waiting to be purchased…and you would be shocked to see how many big brands are not involved yet. It would be the equivalent of Coke not being interested in coke.com 10-15 years ago. BTW, I’ll beat you to the punch…Coke already owns the short code for COKE. They are on top of it! Are you? :)

GG

PS Don’t forget to test out my short code…just text IMD to 23907 to sign up for mobile alerts when I update my blog. You can always opt out, but it’s a cool way to see how this works!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Viral Marketing Campaigns, Important Elements to Consider to Enhance Campaign Effectiveness


Viral Marketing Effectiveness, Important Elements to ConsiderViral Marketing is a hot topic, especially since the web is an incredible catalyst for getting the word out about something. Depending on your business, viral marketing can be a powerful way to drive exposure, traffic, and sales. You can get your brand in front of thousands of people in a relatively short amount of time. By the way, I’m not referring to organic Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM) or Buzz Marketing. If you want to get technical, I’m referring to Amplified WOM, or an online marketing campaign with a goal of taking your message viral, spreading it across the web like wildfire, exposing your brand on a grand level, and hopefully turning it into revenue down the line. Don't worry, I explain a few examples below. You don’t have to be a large company to utilize viral marketing. You just need to be creative and develop ideas that leverage the viral nature of the web to achieve your goals… Let’s take a look at what I believe to be some important elements to consider while developing your viral marketing campaign.

Concept Development, Make Sure It’s Fun, Memorable, and That It Has a Hook
During your brainstorming, if you read a concept and remotely think it won’t be fun, inspiring, or intriguing enough, then throw the idea away. The bar is constantly being raised, so you need to ensure people will want to take part. If it just sounds ok, then it’s probably worse. If you get goosebumps while reading it, then you’re on to something. I use this test often while mapping out creative strategies….if it doesn’t give me chills while reading it, then it’s not good enough, period.

Here’s an interesting example of a viral campaign: Weight Watchers recently hired FaintStarlite, a popular video blogger to help promote their "Stop Dieting, Start Living" campaign. There’s a myspace page for the campaign and FaintStarlite vlogs away… She is asking others to post about their diet experiences, their Weight Watchers journey, and talks about her own experiences. Right now, her WW myspace page has over 6300 friends and 430 comments. Reading through the comments, you can see the campaign seems to be resonating. Women (and some men) are talking about dieting, when they joined Weight Watchers, laughing about the craziest diets they have tried, etc. This is a good example of tailoring the campaign to your target audience. Actually, I'd love to hear from FaintStarlite about how the campaign is going from her perspective.

Another good example was the Hammer and Coop viral campaign by Mini Cooper. I won’t go into all the details, but it has ultra-high production value, it's extremely funny, and I spent 15-20 minutes there before I even realized it! Good concept, excellent creative, and got me talking about the campaign…

A Common Question I Hear:
“How controversial or extreme should we make our viral marketing campaign?” I’m a big fan of humor. It’s a great way to generate a viral effect. Think of the CareerBuilder monkey tv commercials, which spurred the CareerBuilder viral campaign "Monkey Mail". It’s a serious subject (your career), but they really took a light angle by using the monkeys… If you can weave humor into a sound marketing concept for your viral campaign, then you are off to a great start. I’m not saying that controversial campaigns don’t generate buzz…but at what price? And by the way, you can shock people with humor and not leave them writhing in their seats… Another option is taking real world experiences and using them as the basis for your campaign. Let your actual customers talk… Let the true stories of helping customers resonate with your target audience. It’s not funny or shocking, but depending on your customer stories, it could generate a lot of viral activity.

Interactivity, Participation and User Generated Content (UGC)
Don’t create a 30 second spot…please. Sure, you might get some views on YouTube, but I firmly believe you need to have people interact with your campaign (and that’s not sitting and watching a 2 minute video). I think it’s a great idea to have video as part of the campaign, but not part of a one way viewing experience. There are so many ways to have people take part in your campaign, especially with web-based campaigns. For example, let’s say you are a clothing retailer and you’re launching a new line of jeans. As part of your campaign, run a contest letting customers create their own commercial for your jeans and give them some creative assets to start with. Maybe your logo, a few snapshots of models wearing the jeans, some music you have licensed for the campaign, and a few video clips from your stores. As participants create their commercials, have them upload the final video to your site, along with supporting commentary (what inspired their idea, their bios, who helped with the production, what their acceptance speech would be if their commercial won an award, etc.) Then have visitors vote on the winners… The winner gets a $2000 shopping spree on the website. It’s a great way to have people interacting with your brand, product, etc. And since they have created intriguing content for your site that others are voting for, your brand and product are now being viewed by more and more people…and maybe on other sites like YouTube, Google Video, etc. Think interactively….and not old-school television.

Giveaways, Grand Prizes, and Runners Up
If you choose to launch a contest as part of the campaign, then I cannot emphasize my next point enough. The winners should get something really, really cool that obviously fits your target market. So don’t give away a Blackberry to a retired guy living in a 55 and older community down in Florida. I'm not saying he wouldn’t like it, but he would probably enjoy a $500 restaurant gift card from Visa. Hey, I understand this crowd well since I know several snowbirds from New York. ;-) Do you target high tech customers, give away a jacked Macbook. Target moms? Give away a shopping spree at Babies R Us. You get the point. And, if you can give away your own products, even better. Then you’ll just pay the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and shipping. For example, if you sell footwear, then giving away 25 pairs of shoes doesn’t cost you the retail price, right? If you’re COGS are 30%, then you are giving away $1500 on $5000 worth of footwear. If you have products that people dig, then this is a great way to go. Keep in mind the viral nature of your campaign, though…will winning a year’s supply of paper clips excite anyone??

Brand Your Campaign and Develop a Dedicated Section of Your Website
Brand your campaign! This has several benefits, including giving people an easy way to communicate the campaign to their friends, helping with natural search, tying easily with your concept and creative, and obviously making it memorable! i.e. My friend Matt tells me about the Actober campaign by Major League Baseball, so I go to Google and enter Actober. If you’ve done your job correctly (and many don’t), your site and others referencing it should come up. If you didn’t give the campaign a name, then what would people search for?? Major League Baseball? On your website, add a directory matching the title of the campaign. i.e. www.yourwebsitename.com/yourcampaignname/

Sidebar, Do not waste those precious links!
I’ve seen campaigns generate thousands of links, which will greatly help a site’s natural search power, but then the companies shut down the campaign section or microsite after the campaign ends. NOOOO!!! “Sir, please step away from your web server…” Leverage that search power by either archiving those pages or using 301 redirects. A good link is a horrible thing to waste. ;-)

Get the Word Out, Advertise Your Viral Marketing Campaign
OK, so you have developed a great campaign, it’s a killer idea, the creative looks incredible, and you are getting goosebumps like I mentioned earlier. Now what?? You need to get the word out via a range of online marketing channels. Use your email list to stir up your base, use social media sites to communicate the campaign, advertise on targeted websites, use paid search to capture targeted visitors, and use PR to send waves across the web. Also, don’t forget to advertise on your own network of websites… I think this is sometimes overlooked. Create advertisements for key traffic areas on your own websites. Hey, there’s no ad spend! Add a footer to any email that goes out (confirmation emails to buyers, your email newsletters, etc.) Have your customer service reps explain the campaign at the end of phone calls. You get the picture. Leverage your own infrastructure to help get the word out.

Have Legal Approve Everything…
You are not a lawyer, so don’t make the mistake of not having your legal team or outside legal counsel approve your campaign. Let me say this again just so I’m clear. DO NOT LAUNCH A CAMPAIGN WITHOUT LEGAL REVIEWING EVERY ASPECT OF THE PROGRAM. I’ve seen campaigns run without a hitch and I’ve also seen campaigns come close to imploding. It’s all about the execution. I’m fanatical about this stage…it’s just in my blood. Listen to your lawyers…legal is a necessary element to your successful marketing campaigns. Make changes based on their feedback and get final approval before moving forward. Believe me, you won’t regret it.

Summary
So there you have it, some important elements to consider while creating your viral marketing campaign. This obviously doesn’t cover everything involved, but I plan on writing more posts related to viral marketing in the future.

Here are a few final words of advice…
* Be sure to view your ideas from the perspective of a would-be participant. It might be a great idea to you and your staff…but might fall flat with the people who will actually be participating.
* Definitely try to inject fun and energy into your campaign.
* Use technology to make it as interactive as possible.
* Use a wide range of online marketing channels to promote your campaign.

Last, my lawyer wanted me to add a line from him:

“This blog post about viral marketing sets forth the entire blog post and understanding of the parties relating to the subject matter hereof and supersedes all prior viral marketing blog posts and understandings, both written and oral, among the parties with respect to viral marketing, amplified word of mouth marketing, generating buzz, webfire, or any other terms related to viral marketing hereof.”

See, I told you to have legal review everything. :-) Sorry, I had to poke fun of legal at least one time in this post...

GG

Related Posts:
The Difference Between Viral Marketing, Word of Mouth Marketing, and Buzz Marketing
7 Drivers of Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM)

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Enterprise Rent-A-Car : The Story That Everyone Wants to Hear!


Enterprise Rental Car and Extraordinary Customer ServiceIt ends up my blog post from last week about the drivers of word of mouth marketing had an interesting effect... no matter who I've spoken with recently about web marketing, we somehow come back to the 7 drivers listed in my last post! It’s a weird phenomenon. :-) Over the past week I’ve listened to many stories about how WOM has impacted a wide range of businesses, and out of the 7 drivers of WOM that I listed in the post, the “Extraordinary Customer Experiences” listing really seemed to resonate. I believe this is because it’s something that you as a business owner can directly impact. During my conversations about WOM, I’m inevitably asked if I have an extraordinary customer experience to tell. No, not a client example, but my own experience as Glenn Gabe. That’s actually an easy question for me…it’s my experience with Enterprise Rent-A-Car… hands down. When I tell people about my experience, I get the same reaction almost every time. “You need to write a blog post about that!” So, based on popular demand, here it is… Buckle up and enjoy the ride. No pun intended. ;-)

Have You Heard the Joke About a College Grad, a Bus, and a Resume?
I had just graduated college and I was ready and eager to interview with companies in Corporate America. I was hoping to land a great job in New York, living only 40 minutes outside of the greatest city on earth (OK, I’m biased). I received a call from Perrier about a position in their NYC office. I did a solid job on the phone interview, and I was asked to visit the Manhattan office for a second interview. Cool. I’m excited. So, I had 2 decent choices for getting into NYC from where I lived, the bus to the Port Authority and a train to Hoboken where I could pick up the path to midtown. Being completely inexperienced with commuting to NYC at the time, I chose the bus. I won’t explain all of the intricacies about why the train is better, but to me, the train rules. So, it’s a hot and humid summer day in NY (more on this later), I’m dressed in a new suit that doesn’t really fit well, and I’m off to Manhattan for my interview, ready to take on the world.

Summer in NY
It was 90 degrees that day with high humidity, which means I was miserable as soon as I left the air conditioning… I parked my car near the bus stop and waited for the bus to show up. The 10 minutes waiting for the bus felt like I was in the Sahara Desert and knowing that I had to stay in that suit while acing my interview was starting to freak me out a little bit. Remember, I’m right out of college. The bus arrives and we’re on our way. I noticed immediately that it was really hot on the bus. That’s the proverbial red flag number 1. Just a few minutes into the ride, I noticed the smell of burning oil. Uh oh… Red flag number 2. About 10 minutes into the trip, the bus broke down. So, here I was, at least 2 to 3 miles from my car, on a hot broken down bus, and with no idea how long it would take to fix. And, since I was new at the job hunting game, I didn’t leave enough time in case something catastrophic happened, like this… so there was a good chance that I would miss the interview. Great…

Go West Young Man!
Well, it was actually North, but that’s not important. I climbed off the bus and loosened up my tie, now throwing my jacket over my shoulder. I thought I might as well start walking back to my car. Remember, cell phones weren’t very popular at this point… It’s not like I could quickly call a taxi from the side of the road. I had about 45 minutes to get into NYC for my interview. Only a few minutes into my walk, I came across a line of stores, one of which was an Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Not knowing exactly where I was in relation to where my car was parked, I wanted to ask someone if I was on the right path. So, I walked into Enterprise, sweaty and frustrated and asked if I was heading in the right direction. The manager answered, “Yes, but you’ve got a few miles to walk back to your car.” I frowned, thanked him, and turned back to the door when he asked another question, “Are you going on an interview?” See, I actually looked more like a college grad going on an interview than I thought I did at the time! Big shock, right? I was young, wearing a new suit, and held a cheesy portfolio in my hand (of course with nothing in it but a copy of my resume and blank paper!) So I answered, “Yes, but there’s no way I’m going to make it, since it’s in NYC”. He didn’t hesitate and grabbed his keys. “I’ll drive you to your car. Let’s land you a job.” On the way to my car, I thanked him a few dozen times and even tried to pay him! He of course wouldn’t take any money, but he asked that I follow up with him to let him know how the interview went (and if I made it in time). “You bet I’ll follow up!”

An Important Lesson…Nobody Knows What Happened 15 Minutes Ago…
I hopped in my car and drove into Manhattan like a bat out of hell. I was lucky…I didn’t hit much traffic. I flew through the Lincoln Tunnel, parked near Penn Station, and ran into Penn Plaza. I even got to the office with a few minutes to spare. The hiring manager actually needed a few extra minutes to finish another interview. Phew…no problem. :-) “Tell him to take his time”, I said to the receptionist. That’s when I learned a great lesson that I’ve taken with me to this day. No matter what happens before a sales call or meeting, how hard it is to get there, what happened on the way, heck, what happened on your way up the elevator, nobody knows that… You just need to perform to the best of your ability in the moment and deal with any circumstances later. Anyway, I didn’t mention what happened with the bus to the hiring manager, I did a great job on the interview, and I was pushed to the next level, which was an interview at Perrier headquarters with the Regional Manager. To make a long story short(er), I landed the job and spent the next 7 years at Perrier. Those 7 years truly helped build the entrepreneurial platform that I use every single day. They gave me the best training, education, and real-world experience necessary for me to grow professionally. To me, my experience working at a large company that was going through tremendous growth, with the ability to learn, execute, test, while furthering my education, was critical to my success… Those 7 years definitely changed my life.

“We simply work hard to be the best.”
That quote is directly from the Enterprise Rental Car website, and boy, do I believe that! See, what the manager of Enterprise Rent-A-Car did that summer day truly impacted my life. It’s not a corny cliche, it’s real life. He didn’t need to drive me anywhere… I wasn’t a customer at that point, and never had been. But, he went above and beyond…actually he went way above and beyond. Think about it, how many of your employees would do what he did?? Not many, right? I ended up writing a letter to his Regional Manager about my experience and I hope they plastered that story all over Enterprise Rent-A-Car Land. He deserved to be promoted…and that very day. And of course, I followed up with him to thank him another dozen times.

They’ve Earned a Lifetime Customer Evangelist
My Enterprise Rent-A-Car story is truly an extraordinary customer experience, and one that will be hard for any other company to beat (at least personally). So, when I travel and I’m presented with several options for rental cars, you bet I go with Enterprise every single time I can. I don’t think twice. In addition, I also recommend Enterprise any chance that I get, and coincidentally, this is typically during the meetings that I’m traveling to!...so it’s darn targeted. :-)

So, have you experienced extraordinary customer service like I did? I’d love to hear your stories (and they don’t need to be as crazy as the one I listed above!) I know the stories are out there…

GG

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