Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Know Your Audience: The Lesson of Jimi Hendrix and The Monkees

Yesterday I came across an account of a most unusual concert tour held July 8-17, 1967.  Some ostensibly bright minds came up with the idea of opening The Monkees with Jimi Hendrix!  The Monkees audience hated Hendrix' pyschedelic style and he had enough of their abuse after eight shows.

Were the proponents of this idea insane?  To them (Hendrix' manager and Monkee Micky Dolenz) the project made perfect sense!  Unfortunately they had a perspective that wasn't focused on the audience's needs or wants.  Michael Jeffrey desperately wanted to break Hendrix into a wider market in the U.S. and Dolenz was utterly fascinated with Hendrix' showmanship, knowing The Monkees were more show than music.  In both cases, the principals were focused on their own needs.

A wiser head might have suggested that Hendrix open for a band that had a similar style or accent.  The Monkees might have been better paired with someone equally pleasing to their followers.  The first consideration should have been "what do our customers want and need?"

Bottom Line:  Do we as small business owners make decisions about products and services that are focused on ourselves before customers?  Are we sending mixed messages about our brand by combining features, offerings, services, etc. that don't serve one target market?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Force is Not With You

With the release of the latest "Star Wars" franchise film, it seems every advertiser is falling over themselves to ride the "Star Wars" brand.  I do not think I have ever seen so much crossover advertising in my life, and in recent years I have seen much.  Everyone seems wild to "use the Force".

One supposes that the advertisers imagine that they score a great coup by obtaining licensing rites from a major film or some other "partner", but in reality the expense is a tragic setback.  Why?  Beyond the obvious costs of obtaining licensing rights our advertiser (a) spends valuable advertising time and space talking about the "partner" and (b) telegraphs the message that the advertiser's brand isn't strong enough without some help.

I look at these crossovers as a kind of drug.  The advertiser may feel good for awhile, but after the contract runs out, it's back to normal.  If the brand is suffering, the problem has not been solved.  Only a large expenditure was made.

As I have noted in earlier blogs, I am not averse to well-conceived and real partnerships between small businesses with a natural affinity (e.g. yoga studios and health food stores).  Is there a true affinity between a hamburger restaurant and a major movie?  between a pizza franchise and the NFL?
Bottom line:  Think hard if you, as a small business owner, are bewitched by a crossover appeal.  Remember that you're always going to be the weaker partner and that you may be doing more for the ostensible partner than yourself.  If the brand needs a lift, consider speaking with a peer or an adviser who can suggest strategies that are centered on what you do.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Upset Customer Opportunity

A discussion last week about engagement with upset customers and prospects via their negative reviews and posts prompts a follow up.  These sorts of reviews and posts can be a net positive and an opportunity for a business.  Here's how:

There are two types of disaffected customers.  One type doesn't complain, at least not in any way upon which can be followed.  They may complain in a person to person conversation.  The end result: no chance whatever to recover the customer and bad press beyond that.

The other type does complain.  They can be engaged by the means used to complain.  And the customer can not only be recovered, in most cases, but they may be impressed enough to share the positive recovery experience with others.  It's often the case that the most loyal customers are those for whom something went wrong.

And in the social media space, businesses that promptly and politely rectify situations are those that can gain a strong brand boost in a wider audience.

Bottom line: adversity can be a route to strength!  But one must first positively and promptly engage that unhappy customer!