Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category
Chatting with a friend yesterday, the subject came up of a position at his company which has been a revolving door of seemingly “bad hires”. The question driving our discussion was: why?
I worked at drugstore.com for 9 years. When I joined in 1998 there were about 50 people on the team, and we grew to 700 in about 15 months. Then, the dotcom bust happened, and about half those people, unfortunately, lost their jobs. By the time I left, in 2007 there were only two people who had worked there longer than I had, and both of them are still there today.
In my time there, there was continual turnover in the position of VP of Marketing. By my recollection, there were 9 VPs of Marketing in the 9 years that I worked there. As I recall, some lasted for as short as four months, and others for upwards of a year, but few had much success. It was practically like being the drummer in Spinal Tap—a virtual guarantee of an untimely demise!
Bottom line: trust works. Remember that, it will come in handy later in this post.
Tonight I got onto The Google to search for a very specific pair of shoes I wanted to buy. The Shopping page on The Google showed me about a thousand versions of the shoes I wanted at a variety of different retailers across the Interwebs.
- I could get the shoes for $108.50 including shipping from the official brand web site.
- Or, I could get the shoes for $87.49 including shipping from an online retailer I had never heard of, but looked sort of trustworthy because they seemed to actually have a chain of brick-and-mortar stores.
- Or, I could get the shoes for $118.50 from Zappos.com.
Which do you think I chose? If you said “Zappos” then you were right.
I come from the product development side of things, which means that generally speaking I’ve spent my professional career surrounded by people who don’t have a lot of respect for “the idiots in marketing”. As you, my loyal readers know, I have outgrown that mindset.
If I were to describe the job of marketing it is to find efficient ways to get the product in front of people who will actually pay. So, that implies three tasks, none of which are easy. Let’s break them down.
People who will actually pay — maybe the hardest of the three for a startup, and this is the question I always ask entrepreneurs: Who is going to buy your product? I have a friend who has built a great product, but his startup doesn’t really know anybody who will pay for it. (Actually, that’s only partially true…it would be an excellent acquisition for one of about 3-5 companies in the entire world. If they can get one of those firms to bite, then they’re golden.)
My friend Fred is a caterer. An excellent caterer, as a matter of fact. Once, after eating one of his profiteroles I didn’t eat another dessert for weeks because I knew that nothing would compare, that all others would disappoint.
I’m always encouraging Fred to raise his prices and tell customers who only want him to do small events that he’s booked on that day. He thinks I’m nuts.
My point to Fred rests on the Power of the Velvet Rope Theory—that anytime you tell someone they can’t have something they want it even more.
McKenzie’s inspiration comes from Drew Houston’s presentation at the Startup Lessons Learned Conference. Houston explains how their customer referral program has been a huge success because it benefits for the referrer and referree. Specifically, if you’re a Dropbox user and refer another customer then the person you refer will get a pay a lower price…and, as the referrer, you will get more services for the same price that you’re currently paying.
This is great…it makes “tell-a-friend” type features more palatable than because it everyone get value. But, I’d argue that it’s lame for two reasons.
At Gnomedex this weekend, and I had a chance to connect with Chris Brogan again. I met Chris for the first time earlier this spring–we had dinner together in New York. I asked him to summarize his world for me and he broke it down like this:
- Typically, he works with enterprise clients because it’s easier to sell one large contract than it is to sell ten small ones. This reminded me of an old Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin is selling lemonade at $300 per glass. Hobbes suggests that’s a bit expensive, to which Calvin replies: I only need to sell one.
- Unlike other marketing consultants, he doesn’t suggest that marketing organizations throw away the “old way” for the “new way”. Rather, he understands that a company has a sales pipeline and that social media tools have an appropriate place to supplement and improve that pipeline. This makes sense to me because it’s less threatening and more effective for them.
- As dinner and our conversation wandered, I realized that I never got the third point: “What’s the third point, Chris?” “I’m glad you asked…that’s my book,” he said, and you’ll have to wait.
Today I had to call my insurance company to change my billing information. No big deal. Here’s how the conversation with customer service went:
- Ring, Ring…”Welcome to Big Insurance Co…existing customers press 2 to speak to an customer service representative.” [Everything good so far.]
- Wait on hold for 3-4 minutes. [Not great, but I'm at work, it's on speaker and I work while I wait...basically good so far.]
- “Hi, thanks for calling Big Insurance Co. My name is Kathy.” [Still doing just fine.] “May I have your account number?”
Ouch! I get that I’m just one of a zillion policy holders, but would it really have been so hard to ask my name? To treat me like a human? Would it have cost Big Insurance Co. anything to have the conversation go like this: Read the rest of this entry »
Gradon Tripp wrote a post last week about his great experience with the band Quiet Company. Here’s the story in a nutshell:
Gradon posted on Twitter that he had heard the band and liked their music; the band was listening on Twitter and sent him a message back with a link to a sampler pack of their songs. In addition, they told Gradon to share the sampler pack with anybody who he wanted. That led directly a CD sale because Gradon like the music, and to word-of-mouth becasue Gradon told everyone about his wonderful experience.