Monday, February 8, 2010

Have The Rules Really Changed?

Joe Jaffe has written a new book called "Flip The Funnel". I haven't read it yet and probably will at some point but I just spent some time going over a great blog post with some video that talks about the concepts behind the book.

He says he came to the idea for the book by wondering if the rules of marketing have changed. Instead of spending more of our time and energy (read: money) finding new customers, what if we were spending that time and energy (money) on our existing customers. What if flipped the funner from one of reaching out to as many as we can to one of engaging customers and bringing them closer to us, our company and other customers.

First, I am not sure that this debate is really new. I took a relationship marketing course during my MBA and we heard some interesting statistics during our first class. I suppose that I can't share the slide deck I am pulling this from but some stuff is sourced from The American Customer Satisfaction Index.

In short, the data was designed to show that customer service matters, not only to your customers but to your bottom line. An example was a great study in the March 2007 Harvard Business Review that highlighted that companies with above average customer satisfaction scores, destroyed the S&P 500.

So, can we all agree that this stuff matters? Good.

Recently, I was thinking about why people don't always think this is true. And why we see mediocre products, services and companies in the market place. The answer I came up with is this:

We don't give a sh*t.

I believe that our society and culture, especially when it comes to business is focused inwards and not outwards. On the whole, we care more about growing our business, doing our jobs, getting home for dinner and getting that quarterly bonus that we do about providing real value to the marketplace. So we don't give a sh*t about creating real value for others. This is why you will often work in offices full of people that care nothing about doing actual work or pushing things forward.

This might seem a bit odd, but I was thinking about personal care products. Take soaps and shampoos. I find that so often, this stuff is packed full of things to make us THINK it is good for us. We have soaps with crazy perfumes and scents tested in labs for our ability to THINK it is doing any good for us. I am not a soap expert, but aren't simple soaps without all of that junk in them simply better for us? I see ads for soap products that have ribbons of gold in them. RIBBONS OF GOLD. Please. Make it actual gold and then maybe we'll talk. I have this crazy body wash right now that has these moisture beads in it and has some kind of mint stuff in it so that you are supposed to feel cleaner when you use it. I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure you don't need all that crap to feel clean. Isn't that how you feel after you take a shower? Bottle that and sell it to me? Oh wait, you can't.

I was also thinking about food products. We are sold products packed full of sodium yet have labels about being low-fat or healthy. We have foods that never have fat or use trans-fats marketed as being "trans-fat free". We have people eating "light" foods that clog their arteries and contribute to their poor health. The reality is that healthy food isn't complicated or difficult. It's simple... take some veggies and some meat and you're good to go. For food marketers, it's not about what is actually good or better for us... but what is going to sell, increase the bottom line and grow our pocket books.

And is this making us happier? Seems like there is lots of evidence to suggest that we aren't. Andrew Oswald and David Blanchflower published research in 2002 that looked at US and Britain and concluded that people in the US were not getting happier over time.

Anyways, enough of the ranting but what it comes down to is that we have been sold products for years that were designed to make us think they worked, were good for us and would make us happy. Perhaps we have reached that place Joe Jaffe is talking about. Perhaps marketing has used these tactics so often and so widely that they are no longer effective. I had a previous post that spoke about how 1/3 of survey respondents felt a disconnect with tech marketers and 39% percent felt manufacturers fell in love with what they make. I also read a discussion yesterday about how the TTC is fed up of trying to defend its shoddy customer service.

I think Joe Jaffe is really onto something here but I think that it doesn't have to be very complicated. The thought that I kept coming back to is this: If you are going to make something, make the best possible version of it or don't make it at all. If you're going to serve customers, serve them the best you can or don't do it at all.

We've all had those experiences. I've even written about being in stores where I can tell that nobody cares. I just wonder if we've gone too far in the other direction to ever fix the hole that we have dug for ourselves.

So I would like to propose a motto for us all to use in the next decade: Do It Better.

Do it better than you did the day before. Do it better than you did last year. Do it better than your company did it ever before. I bet that if we do this, little by little, day by day, we might actually get somewhere.

No comments: