Sunday, March 26, 2006
Fun with Branding – What’s Your Sign?
It’s hard to stay good at your job if you don’t stop to have fun with it once in a while. That’s why I love the “better than guessing” series of tools periodically released by the Mud Valley Branding Community — they’re simple, useful and don’t take themselves too seriously — exactly what you’d expect from a group whose goal is “integrating business strategy, brand marketing and Six Sigma to make you sharper than the clothes you wear!”
So after getting a little behind in reading my Mud Valley newsletters, I just discovered a cool Excel application called the “Star Signs Definition Enrichment” tool. The tool is based on the premise that most brand definitions stay on the safe side and consequently fail to differentiate themselves from their competition in a compelling way. The Star Signs tool is an exercise in examining your brand as it is currently defined using characteristics of the twelve astrological archetypes that have evolved as a general segmentation of human nature to brainstorm new ways of looking at your brand.
As the folks at Mud Valley describe it “you have twelve rich portraits of people which address their inner-most needs and motivations, and when you refer to them, people will relate to what you are saying at a deep, even subconscious, level. In branding terms, this is hugely valuable. If your brand has a tendency to be biased towards the coldly rational, here is your chance to balance it out, and warm it up, by injecting into it some powerful emotions.”
I tested the tool myself and while skeptical at first, I’ve come around to the fact that if nothing else examining your brands this way once in a while can provide some surprising insights — and is lots of fun. It’s probably even more relevant for examining and revitalizing your “personal brand.”
(By the way, joining the MV Branding Community to receive the newsletters and tools costs a measly £9.99 a year less than $US 19.99. It’s worth a look.)
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Customer Satisfaction Rates Are Like So Last Week
Nobody doubts how important it is to get a pulse on how customers perceive your company, products and services — the sum total of these perceptions in the mind of the customer is the essence of a brand and directly impacts future growth. This is why an article on customer satisfaction surveys I tore out of Business 2.01 a few months ago caught my eye when I finally had time to go back and read it.
From my own experiences working inside companies I know that properly crafting a customer satisfaction survey to gain relevant, actionable metrics is frequently the bane of marketing departments with many other equally important priorities on the plate. How many questions to ask? How should they be phrased to avoid leading the response? And then how to quickly review the mountains of data received into process improvement guidance? Not to mention how easy it is to drink your own cool-aid when analyzing the results.
The article1 put me on to a new concept being popularized by Bain consultant Fred Reichheld: the Net Promoter Score. Throw away everything else on your customer satisfaction survey and boil it down to one key question: Would you recommend this company/product/service to friends and colleagues? The model says to collect responses from at least 60% of your customers and is based on a 1-10 scale with 10 being most likely to recommend and 1 the least likely. Scoring is such that:
- 9-10: These are your “Promoters” - Very satisfied customers who will promote your product or service any chance they get. They are users who actively market your product by getting behind it
- 7-8: They are your “Passively Satisfied” customers
- 1-6: Are the “Detractors” - fairly unsatisfied with you - Most likely to leave you for a competing product or service
Simple. Certainly the fewer variables there are to track in any benchmark the better, but more to the point, Reichheld’s research seems to show a strong correlation between a high NPS and high growth. For example, most U.S. Airlines show both low Net Promoter scores and low (or negative) revenue growth — with the exception of Southwest Airlines, long a poster child in high customer satisfaction. Apparently the average NPS of American companies is an abysmal 5-10%, but Amazon, eBay, Harley-Davidson, Vanguard, and Dell are some of the exceptional performers, operating at NPS efficiency ratings of 50 - 80% (and with the profits to show for it). Now what I’d really like to see is how well the NPS metric applies to the business-to-business sector where buying drivers are often more complex and the sales cycle is typically longer.
1Darlin, Damon. “The Only Question That Matters.” Business 2.0. Sept 2005. pg 50
Net Promoter Site
Satmetrix, the research company that co-developed the NPS with Fred Reichheld
Bain.com “Measuring Your Net Promoter Score.” Accessed 3/12/2006.
McGregor, Jena. “Would You Recommend Us.” BusinessWeekOnline. 1/30/2006
Sunday, March 05, 2006
According to research from GfK NOP, while 67% of U.S. consumers in 1977 called Word-of-Mouth (WOM) one of the best sources for new product information, that number exploded to 92% in 2005.1 The consumer marketing world has been interested in the power of buzz to influence sales for some time and while WOM strategies may be different on the business-to-business side, I suspect a poll of B2B buyers would reveal similarly strong faith in the power of word-of-mouth marketing – after all people tend to trust the word of other people more than companies. Tracking all this to some quantifiable measure of its ability to increase brand awareness and drive revenue growth turns out (as always) to be the hairy part.
However, tools to do just that are emerging: advanced search engines utilizing automated linguistic legerdemain to monitor the blogosphere, message boards and other online places consumers congregate. Of course, these snazzy new tools are also fairly expensive. According to BtoB magazine the average contract for Intelliseek’s new Brandpulse Internet monitoring service is about $75,0002 — likely out of reach for most small-to-medium sized businesses and budget-strapped corporate marketing departments.
But knowing what’s being said (good or bad) about your company and brands is too important to give up on just because the budget is lacking for formalized tools. Since a focus of this blog is on applying grass roots methods of measurement, in a moment of insanity I thought I’d take a stab at piecing together a “simple” B2B WOM measurement tool myself to track brand reach and perception online. I’ll be mentioning more about that effort in the weeks to come. In the meantime, I discovered you can actually tease quite a bit out of Intelliseek’s Blogpulse search tool for free, as well as find out what’s being said about you using Boardreader to search comments posted to message boards. Give it a try.
1Jonathan Carson. “Are You Reading Into the Chatter?” OMMA Magazine. December 2005. pg 27
2Paul Gillin. “How to Monitor the Blogosphere” BtoB Magazine. January 16, 2006. pg 17