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.
We often measure a marketing campaign by this metric: did it get more sales? While this is ultimately an important result, it is really only a small part of the picture. One could argue that the ultimate measure of marketing’s effectiveness being tied to sales results has driven a wedge between marketing and sales teams. Marketing will argue their job is to provide leads and it is the sales team’s job to close the leads, so they are not responsible for sales results. Sales will complain that the leads are weak….
I work for an organization that sells industrial equipment, farm equipment and recreational products. Our buyers are generally not shoppers but customers that have a product solution need: they need to get the crop off and are looking for a grain cart to move it. They need to haul a skid steer to the job site, they need a flatdeck trailer to move it. They have four snowmobiles and need to get them to the mountains. The point is, the customer is calling looking to buy because they believe they need to. There is not a want; there is a need. Many organizations have the same buying behavior. In today’s digital world, the phone call is often the first human-to-human contact and is so very important. Yet, all too often, the incoming call is mishandled as follows:
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.
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.