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August 2008

Never Hesitate to Market

Now that their is much more symmetry between the consumer and the marketer, I'm noticing more hesitancy on the part of marketers to act.  They are in fear that too much email may infuriate someone, so we shouldn't send email.  Outbound telemarketing may anger someone over dinner, so we shouldn't ever call.

My experience is that angry individuals are always in the minority, tend to be cranky in general and probably wouldn't buy from you anyway.  The key to all this is to always act within brand character and consumer expectations of your brand.

It's impossible to predict exactly how often someone wants to hear from you until they respond and tell you.  My guess is that like anything else it follows a bell curve with the top 20% of consumer loving your communications and the bottom 20% wanting less.  In the age of 1:1 communication we can easily control for this anyway through opt outs and by just asking.

Marketing in a Down Economy

If you are feeling down about the United States economy, maybe you shouldn't be.   I came across some statistics that show that things may not be as bad as theyseem:

1. People have more money. In 1989 the median net worth was $69,000. In 2004 it was $93,000.

2. More people own stocks. In 1983,only 19% of Americans owned stocks. By 2005, more than 50% were investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average began the 1980s at 825. Even after recent declines, the index is still over 11,000, representing a 1300% increase in value.

3. More People are working. In 2007, U.S. manufacturing output was the highest in history. In 1970, average unemployment was nearly 7%. Since then the trend ha been downward, with unemployment remaining at or below 5% since 2003.

4. Everyone is Wealthier. Gains in wealth and income have resulted in a better standard of living for virtually every segment of American society – including the poor.

Among families living below the official poverty line in the early 1970s, less than 40% had a car, almost none had color televisions, and air conditioning was virtually

unheard of; in 2004, 46% owned their own homes, almost 75% owned a car (indeed, 30% owned two or more cars), 97% had color TVs, and 67% had air conditioning. The poor in the U.S. have an average of 721 square feet of living space per person, as compared with 430 in Sweden and 92 in Mexico.”

The reason for all this economic gloom is as much psychological is it is real.  In a recent Washington Post article was titled “Why We’re Gloomier Than The Economy” author Neil Irwin states that “According to most broad measures of how the economy is doing, it’s not all that grim.”  In fact economists believe that consumer pessimism is due to minor and frequent economic setbacks such as the change in gas prices.  He give an example of a Columbia Business School study where someone who has to pay an extra $25 to purchase gas for the car.  This is reinforced at every fill-up.  Technically, he is no worse off than if his rent had increased by $100 a month. But because the cost increase is presented on a daily basis, it feels a lot worse.

Since gas prices effect everyone, it feels more pervasive whereas changes in unemployment effect 1 to 2% of of the population.

I feel better already.

Prepare to Be Delighted

I couldn't agree more with your notion that "delight" should be the marketing objective of any company.  Convincing someone to visit your store or your website is hard word.  In exchange for their money the consumer expects to be satisfied.  The best companies exceed these expectations and transcend satisfaction to achieve delight. 

It's particularly true in the case of our company  We don't just seek delight, but promise it in all of our customer touchpoints through the promise "prepare to be delighted".  We operate in the digital printing industry, and with most companies delivering inconvenience and mistakes, setting the bar at "delight" is not only differentiating, but sets the bar at a point that the cusotmer didn't even know could exist.