If you are a leader and your organization is struck by a communication crisis what do you do? Often you did not expect it and you have not prepared for it.As the executive leader responsible for Marketing and Communications, when a communications crisis hits, it becomes my crisis. In today’s world one could substitute communication crisis with simply social media crisis (which can blow up into a full media communication crisis). The best way to handle a social media crisis is to know when it is coming, which means social media monitoring. If you are not monitoring social you really are blind to the mood of the market place. Get some tools (socialmention.com is free) and start listening. Beyond not being completely surprised by a when crisis hits, I follow some simple rules: the first one is to remember that every situation is an opportunity to create a positive brand impression as opposed to just damage control.
Recently, I experienced a very effective marketing experience that was seamlessly connected to the start of the sales process. I have to admit I was impressed; until I went to the physical location and was immersed in their in-store experience.
So what happened?
I was triggered by a radio ad for an item I am considering purchasing.
There is more focus on customer experience now than ever before. Interestingly enough, when you read why brands are focusing on the customer experience the reasons given are more excuses or accusations. What we're not seeing are brands aspiring to have a great customer experience because that's what best for their business. Typical reasons given include the following:
It is easy to get trapped in the rut of “market of one” thinking (if I like this every one else should). To mitigate this thinking our team regularly takes one of our websites and submits it to a user testing group. This group is tasked to answer questions such as describing the purpose of the site, finding a product, requesting a quote, finding the warranty on a product; typical tasks we want our customers to be able to do easily on our website. Of course (us) the people who designed the site know how to do all of these tasks easily, but what about a first time user? That is what we want to know.
I believe there is a trap many of us allow ourselves to be snared by. When a great idea is tossed out by someone on the team often we reflect on how our customers will respond and back that up by the mountains of data we can quickly obtain. This makes sense, the reason we are marketing is to resonate with our customers so they want to do business with our brand and if you can validate your thoughts with data why wouldn’t you?
When I think of an audience my immediate vision is a crowd at a rock concert or an assembly for a speech or play. My second thought is an image of a family gathered around their television or if I get historical, their radio. As I loosen the boundaries of my thinking the idea of what an audience is starts to rapidly expand. Today an audience can be the readers of book or blog, listeners of a podcast, people who watch a Youtube video, visitors to a website, subscribers to an email list, users of an app, people that share, like or comment in social media, the list grows and grows.
Recently I contracted Points West Consulting out of Regina to conduct market testing for our Flaman Man commercials. This fiscal year the Flaman Man commercials have been a polarizing conversation within our organization, and it seems outside of it as well. Many within the organization love the Flaman Man and embrace it with devotion; hawking Flaman Man T-shirts with joy and having their children participate in the current Flaman Man coloring contest. To them the character has become a fitness hero; others in the organization are embarrassed by the campy style of the campaign that pays homage to the golden era of TV super heroes (think Adam West’s Batman).
We all know the reason why we market. We want to create interest in our goods and services that will convert into leads which can be closed to create revenue. We want to do this efficiently to create the return on investment our shareholders are seeking. This is the definitive reason why we market. But there is another reason why for marketing and it occurs in the how.
“I don’t care what you think!” Seems like a poor choice of words to say to the President of your organization. But I say it from time to time, followed up by finger pointing around the table at the other executives with the same line: “I don’t care what you think, or what you think, what you think or what I think for that matter. I only care about what our customer thinks.”
For all our divisions meetings I do presentations, mostly about marketing and changing consumer trends. For about half of the divisions I also do sales training.
In the last several years I have been adding in digital media communication to our training. In today’s world you can be contacted by e-mail (gosh so old school!) text messaging, Facebook messages, Twitter…the list goes on and on. How do you respond through all these channels?