9 signs you’re an Over-Tweeter

addictThis is a post for Mr. Over-Tweet. You know who you are, but you probably won’t have time to read this. After all, you’re too busy enthralling us, 140 characters at a time.

But in the event you do find time to read this post. I have just one thing to say to you:

Stop.

I get that you want to embrace social media and that you probably have a loyal group of followers (i.e. the unemployed). But I think I speak for the majority of Twitter-ers out there when I say, “ease up on the throttle, big guy.” It’s not that we don’t find some of your tweets interesting. After all, we’re following you (for now). But inundating us with tweets doesn’t make you more compelling. In fact, it actually makes you less so.

Oh, and if you’re not sure you’re an Over-Tweeter, here are some telling signs to watch for:

1. You regularly fill the Twitter ‘home’ page with your tweets.
2. You’ve debated the merits of the bit.ly URL shortener vs the ow.ly URL shortener.
3. Your name is Guy Kawasaki.
4. You put hashtags on Post-It notes to emphasize points.
5. You’ve tweeted while driving / shaving / showering / jogging / dating / cooking or any other ‘ing’ that requires some measure of concentration.
6. You consider Tweeting to be your guilty pleasure instead of something actually guilt-inducing, like cock-fighting.
7. You’ve joked about naming your child/pet “@name”.
8. You’ve actually tweeted: “@mydamnwife at me for tweeting during dinner again” or
8.a @mydamnwife left you a while ago

And here’s the big one:

9. You tweet more than you read your followers’ tweets.

I don’t mean to belabor a point, Mr. Over-Tweet, but it’s called social media. Most people use it to create a dialogue between each other. When the conversation only goes one way, it kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? So unless you’re Shaquille O’Neal, Oprah or CNN, try something revolutionary the next time you log on to Twitter. Just read. Then, perhaps respond. You might find yourself in an actual conversation, and more importantly, more connected to society in general.

Until then, me and @mydamnwife will be watching.

Rush Limbaugh’s lessons on branding

rush_limbaughThis relatively short post is for all of you out there who think that brands are the sole responsibility of the marketing department.

Recently, it was reported that the St. Louis Rams were up for sale and that several groups were interested in bidding for the team, most notably, a group headed up by Dave Checketts (former CEO of Madison Square Garden) and controversial radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh.

Several NFL players have already stated that if Mr. Limbaugh’s bid is successful they will never play for the Rams. People in St. Louis have vowed to never again attend games, and at least one NFL owner (Jim Irsay of the Indianapolis Colts) has said he will never vote to approve such a sale.

Why? Because you are who you associate with, and the Rams will have a distinctly different brand if Mr. Limbaugh is one of the owners. After all, Mr. Limbaugh is a brand unto himself – A brand that, through association with the Rams, will hurt ticket sales, free agency and, ultimately, the value of the franchise, merely because he is such a divisive personality.

So next time you think that brands are managed by your agency or marketing department only, think about Mr. Limbaugh and his potential effect on the St. Louis Rams.

A company is a living, breathing entity whose brand can be affected by everything – including customer service, sales, operations, product quality, and even its ownership group. And if you do something out of brand character, like bring a polarizing influence into your company, it can really hurt you in the end.

Think of it as ‘The Limbaugh Effect’.

Mega Dittos.

Update – Mark Cuban just wrote a good post on why the NFL can’t let Rush Limbaugh be an owner here.

Update #2 – Don Banks from SI.com is reporting that Limbaugh has been dropped from the group bidding to buy the Rams.

How do you say “bad marketing” in French?

Razor1I don’t claim to be the savviest marketer in the world, but as a consumer, I do know what annoys me – and generally it falls in the category of being mis-targeted. I can forgive traditional media for its transgressions by showing me commercials that aren’t meant for me (hey, we’ve all mistakenly watched a full year of Grey’s Anatomy before, right guys?). But when online ads are blowing it, I blow my lid.

With all of the information that I am giving away through my email account – where I received this electric razor ad (click here to read my article on Google reading your mail) – How is it, in this era of enhanced targeting and data capture that I could possibly receive a display ad in French? Is it because I’m Canadian?

For those who aren’t aware, Canada is bilingual, so French is on everything. I remember 25 years ago when growing up in Canada I had a McDonald’s t-shirt featuring the lovable, purple, milkshake-addicted Grimace. Only on my shirt, his name wasn’t Grimace, it was Le Grosse Douceur. Even my favorite cereal, Rice Krispies, had French on it. The boxes weren’t always adorned by Snap! Crackle! and Pop! Sometimes they were replaced by an exuberant trio of elves called Cric! Crac! and Croc! 25 years ago we were used to seeing French stuff on things.

But this isn’t 1984. This is 2009, and I don’t want to see French anymore. And the fact that I no longer live in Canada makes this online ad even worse. So if I were the good folks at Remmington or whoever created this display ad, I’d ask for an explanation from my media agency. Especially if they’re being charged by CPM. Because if I don’t understand it, I’m not going to buy it.

Obviously I’m not the only one who is put off by bad targeting. This is a funny post about Facebook’s Ad Fail.

Social Media = car. Brand = gas.

social-mediaOnline Spin just released an article about succeeding with Social Media and how the answer isn’t in advertising, Facebook pages or Twitter profiles. To this statement I only have one thing to say:

Duh.

Online Spin has it right. But is this such a revelation? Why is it that so many social media ‘experts’ out there don’t understand the fundamentals of brand engagement? When people talk about your brand, or friend/fan your brand, or tweet about your brand, it’s because they have bonded with your brand, not because you simply exist. The principles of brand strategy and engagement have never been more essential today, yet these social media tacticians have many clients believing that they’ll reap financial rewards if they just set up a fan page on MySpace.

The only companies that do well in social media without clear brand support are the ones who innovate in social media. Companies like Naked Pizza who put up a Twitter billboard out front of their location to give followers special deals. The desired brand effect was a pizza for early adopters (go figure, the pizza is 100% organic).

If you’re living up to your brand promises at every touch point and creating advocacy with your customers, then your elevated presence in social media is assured. Not only will people flock to your social media sites, but they may even create their own fan sites as well. I recently flew Virgin America and loved it so much, I devoted a whole article to it. And I don’t even know if Virgin has a Twitter profile.

My advice is this: get your brand in order and build some loyalty. Until you do, your social media presence won’t do much for you. Think of it this way. Social media is the car and your brand engagement is the gas. Without people who love you, your social media ain’t goin’ no where.

I’ll take Biz Stone for $1000

jeopardyThere’s no question that social media is here to stay. Technology has given us a voice, and all signs point to us wanting to be heard. Twitter, the poster child for social media, has recently been valuated at $1 Billion, but so far we haven’t seen much evidence of how Twitter will actually make money. I can’t help but think that the route to riches for Twitter, in some form, lies in traditional media, like television.

So here’s a thought for you, Mr. Stone:

Create a game show.

Frankly, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened already. Twitter and one of the TV networks should create a trivia-oriented game show where the contestants are all sitting at home on the couch. I mean, we’re all sitting there with our laptops anyway. We could answer questions by tweeting as quickly as possible.

Hey NBC, you sit in last in the ratings now. Why don’t you put the Seinfeld or Friends reunions on hold for a bit and concentrate on creating perhaps the world’s biggest and most prolific game show? I mean, if we’re willing to watch Howie Mandell counsel brave-hearted dimwits on opening briefcases, this ought to be a sight better.

And to you Twitter users out there. Would you be willing to log into your account at 8pm on Thursday nights if it meant you could win a few thousand/million dollars? And if you’re worried about compromising your social media integrity by participating, I’m sure you could still update your status during the commercial break:

Playing @twittertrivia right now – trying to win $ to invest in twitter stock

9 Reasons why your CRM sucks

Thumbs downI have been working with clients and their CRM programs for some time, and I have always been pretty amazed at how lousy so many of them are. Not that these companies aren’t interested in having more loyal customers (after all, loyalty = increased share of wallet), it’s just that other factors seem to come into play that impede that progress, or they just break some simple rules. So here are some issues with CRM I have come across, and a few suggestions how companies can improve their programs.

Oh, and before I begin, for the record, I want to be clear about what I believe CRM is for – it’s to build advocacy for your brand. In essence, it’s communicating with your 10,000 customers in a way that makes them feel like you’ve only got 10.

Okay, with that said, here we go.

9 Reasons why your CRM sucks:

mailbox1. You think CRM is a just direct mail program. How many times, as a consumer, have you received a direct mail offer from a company that ‘knows’ you, but they’ve sent you something ill timed (like a limited time, 15% off oil change coupon, the week after you got your oil changed) or offering you something you don’t want or need (like a product you’ve already bought)? The reason why this happens is that many companies believe that CRM is just a database for addresses, and to cut down on the cost of developing several communications, they use the entire list to blast out blanket offers.

I’ve been told several times to send out a direct mail offer with multiple offers to the entire list, because at least one of the offers applies to everyone on the list.

This doesn’t create customer loyalty. It’s an inauthentic offer that makes us feel like customer number 9,872.

garbage-can2. Garbage in = Garbage out. Many companies don’t do a good job of purging customers after they have bought a certain product or service. Generally because this is a manual process and some one just didn’t get to it. As a result, customers get offers for things they already have. What’s worse, the offers they receive generally offer a better deal than they originally received. This is a good example of how a company can actually pay money to piss their customers off. So always make sure that you have a quality assurance mechanism in place for data entry or find a way to automate it.

woman shouting3. You communicate too much. I hate to call a company out, but Amazon, if you’re listening, stop with the emails already. I probably receive an email offer once every two days from Amazon. I’m sorry, but I don’t read books that fast. If I did, I’d be much smarter. All this extra communication does is annoy me and makes me immediately delete your emails. Good thing for Amazon is that they’re too big to care. But if you’re not a monopoly, please heed this advice: Unless you’re my best friend (which you’re not), don’t talk to me all the time.

salesman4. Everything is an offer. If you want to build loyalty with me, offer me something that isn’t an offer. I wrote a post about this a while ago about the power of ‘Thank You’. If you want me to like you more, next time you speak with me, try giving me helpful advice on what I have just bought (reinforce my good decision to go with you), or give me something I’m not expecting, or, better yet, connect me to others who have bought the same thing. Perhaps we can build a community of brand advocates for you.

Win5. You use contests to collect addresses. Not good. More often than not people will enter your contest to win the contest. They have no interest in your products or services. That whole “No Purchase Necessary” thing is hard to distinguish between who is interested and who isn’t. But if you have to run a contest, here’s a good tip, start your list with with the people who actually bought something.

Of course another way to build up your list is to offer a discount on a future purchase, and don’t just make it a blanket offer. If possible, make the discount relevant to their purchase. For example, if you’re a cable provider, offer a free on demand movie or discount on a specialty channel. Don’t offer a 25% discount on your phone service.

stopwatch6. You think short term. Many companies make the mistake of believing that CRM is something that migrates customers from interested to engaged to advocacy in 6 months. It doesn’t work like that. How long do you date someone before asking them to marry you? CRM takes time. And remember the goal – advocacy. It may not mean an increase in share of wallet, but it could mean an increase in WOM and new customers. So don’t be pushy. Customers are a skeptical lot to start out with.

not-listening7. You didn’t talk to actual customers before offering them something. When you get together with friends and talk about companies, you either praise them or kill them with respect to their: customer service, call center, product, locations, parking, price, etc. Everyone’s got an opinion. So why is it that so many companies embark on CRM programs without talking to a single soul first? If you want to know how to improve your relationships with your customers, try talking to them. And here, qualitative trumps quantitative results. Get to know what your customers really want before you begin.

And don’t just use tools like Twitter Search, Google Alerts or BingTweets to eavesdrop on them. You can use those tools to find out if you’re doing a good job or not. But don’t use them as the foundation of your CRM program.

trespass_sign8. Your CRM program doesn’t include other inbound/outbound areas. Cardinal sin. If your call centers do not have access to customer information or if your direct mail agency doesn’t have access to what transpired on your Twitter feed, you stand a very good chance of making yourself look like you don’t listen. Make sure any time there is a communication with a customer that his/her record is updated (if it is relevant). If something was solved in the call center, but the customer’s record isn’t de-duped for it, they can receive a communication about the same thing, thereby eliminating the two-way conversation we’re all trying to create.

Life_Ring9. You’re not really listening or helping. This is my last point, but it’s pretty significant. One of the ways to build loyalty through CRM is to create a dialogue with your customers. If they feel like you’re listening, that makes them feel like they are important to you. Do not make the critical mistake of giving them avenues to reach you, like a call center, then putting them on hold for 30 minutes, making them listen to the pre-recorded message “You call is important to us…”. If you want to build some loyalty, you have to give them a reason to be loyal. And being helpful helps. Perhaps one of the benefits of your CRM program could be immediate access to a representative when they call, or anticipating problems they may have and delivering solutions to them proactively. Don’t make them come to you. Show them that you care.

In any event, what’s important to realize about CRM is this:

CRM is time consuming, frustrating to implement, and it costs money.

That’s why it’s so easy to do it badly or dump it when times get bad. But if Frederick Reichheld, the loyalty expert, is correct by saying, “the one thing successful companies have in common are customers who would recommend their company to others”, my question to you is, how can you not afford to do CRM, and do it well?

How the NFL should use Behavioral Targeting

NFL POPCORNThis past weekend the NFL offered free access to their new ‘all access’ channel RedZone, which is a football lover/ADD sufferer’s dream channel. It jumps around to every game where there is something significant happening (i.e. touchdown, turnover, team driving for a score, etc.). The allure of this channel is that there are no commercials, just action.

nfl-redzone-logoBut in the NFL’s ever continuing quest to make more money, I wonder how long it will take before they start interrupting play with advertising. They’ve sold RedZone by telling viewers there are no commercials, but that wouldn’t preclude them from putting sponsorship information on screen, would it?

Which made me think – based on situational events in football games, could they behaviorally target sponsorship information to viewers based on the action on the field? I call it ‘Situational Sponsorship’.

Here’s how it would work. In the NFL there are always things you can count on happening: Hard tackles, touchdown/victory celebrations, and gratuitous food/crowd shots among others (see: T.O. eating popcorn at top of post). So, the NFL could sell these ‘situations’ as media placements during games. Here are a few more ideas:

The NFL always has its share of injuries. The bigger the star (or injury) the longer they stay on the action. The viewer can’t help but think health at the time, so why not sell a portion of the screen to insurance companies?
NFL INJURY

The NFL can leverage some of its bigger-than-life personalities. You can’t tell me that every time you see Michael Vick, you don’t still think of his arrest for dog fighting. Some celebrities are more famous for their off-the-field behavior, so why not take advantage of what we’re all thinking in the first place?
NFL PETS

When your team doesn’t win, it’s natural to feel a little down. The NFL provides fans with a full range of emotions. And I don’t think fans are looking for a bridge to jump off of when their team loses, but some people don’t exactly take bad news well. And with the shocking rate that people are turning to prescription drugs, it provides a great opportunity for companies like Pfizer to remain top-of-mind.
NFL DEPRESSED

Come to think of it, in this new era of TIVO and PVRs, I’m surprised this isn’t already being done with regular programming. Forget product placement, where is situational sponsorship?