January 13, 2010

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5 Steps to Avoid One-Night-Stands with Your Brand It takes a lot to create brand awareness, preference and purchase and the goodwill that is created as each individual accepts, internalizes and aligns them with your brand. Yet like lust, it can evaporate quickly or swing into emotional reverse in a second, if the love is unrequited in the course of the initial brand experiences. Consider this real-life example. For months, a successful professional woman is thinking about a new personal computer. She reads everything she can find. She talks to everyone she knows. Interested, but clearly a digital immigrant, she slowly rallies to the idea of an Apple MacBook Pro. She scours the Apple website. She visits the Apple store several times to hover over the potential purchase. She quizzes the associates and gets the feel of the track pad on her fingers. She examines the machine from every angle mentally picturing herself typing purposefully, carrying it to meetings and surfing the Net from bed. She’s emotionally trying the brand on. Slowly and deliberately over several months, she talks herself into the purchase. She knows it’s double the cost of a new PC. She is clearly in touch with her anxiety about learning new moves. Worried that she might not truly be a “Mac person” in her heart of hearts, she discusses the prospective purchase endlessly with her Mac-enabled friends listening closely for support, validation and any signs of doubt.. On her 8th visit to the new Apple Store on West 68th Street & Broadway, she makes the leap of faith. Encountering the young androgynous salesperson, 30 years her junior, she test drives the MacBook Pro for the last time. Her questions are answered. Her doubts are put to rest. She buys the machine and the $99 Apple Care package. Excited by the prospect of one-on-one training, she schedules her session 48 hours later -- right then and there. Giddy like a teenager she puts the funky bag on her back and struts home feeling like she’s turned over a new leaf and tuned a corner in her computing life. She calls all her friends, excited to report her new purchase and eager to be welcomed into the ranks of the Apple faithful. Fast forward 48 hours. She is awakened early Sunday morning with a call from the Apple Store. They pre-emptively cancel her first training session claiming that the store will be hosting a concert at that exact moment. When asked why they scheduled her in the first place, she gets a non-answer answer. The next opening isn’t for 5 days. The Apple Store rings off. Our new brand loyalist is pissed off. Feeling heart-broken and betrayed, buyer’s remorse sets in even before she’s unpacked or plugged in her new machine. Her excitement and empowerment turn to dust. She rants to all her friends. The moral of this tale: Understand how and why buyers buy. Appreciate the emotional commitment buyers make to your brand Accept the idea that purchase is not the end, but the beginning of a relationship Do everything you can to eliminate disappointments within the first week of purchase Anticipate everything that can go wrong and structure your system to avoid them
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A Twitter Session Under the Microscope If you Twitter, you get the feeling that a handful of people are tweeting like mad and others are silent. It's hard to orient yourself to the context of on-going conversations. As marketers we are trying to understand and harness the dynamic of the conversation to create an appropriate opening and posture for our brands. Mack Collier hosts a Sunday night "Blog Chat" on Twitter that attracts marketers and others who discuss social media topics. People participate by tagging their comments with the #blogchat hash tag. Kevin Hillstrom, President of Mine That Data, and one of the great marketing metrics wonks, has collected 988 tweets from 131 individuals from an April 2009 "Blog Chat" session and put them under the microscope. You can access the transcripts here. This allowed him to take an aggregate look at the dynamics of the Twitter conversation at a given point in time and begin to understand the unique elements of the Twitter ecosystem. Here's what he discovered: There are 3 Kinds of Tweets. Some people make statements and share information. Others directly react, respond and riff on the statements made by others. A third group re-tweets third-party data into the conversation. A Few Tweeters Dominate the Conversation. In the conversation studied, 13 out of 131 people blabbed and blabbed so much so that 5.3 percent of the users accounted for 43.2 percent of the tweets and 9.9 percent of participants made 60 percent of all the comments. Kevin's conclusion is that "a very small audience controls the ecosystem. Much like talk radio, high volume and high intensity tweeters drive the conversation that entertains, informs and amuses the majority who tune-in but aren't vocal. There are 4 User Types. "Elite" power users were 29 percent of the audience but produced more than 80 percent of the tweets in this conversation. They do all 3 kinds of tweeting and are the driving force behind the interactions. "Difference Makers" show up, say their piece and bow out. They aren't too connected to the on-going content, but something provokes an idea which they feel compelled to share. But once they get it off their chests, they're gone. "Knowledge Seekers" ask questions and re-tweet other material. If they are acknowledged or answered they keep tweeting. If not, they clam up. "Attention Seeks", 32 percent, the biggest chunk of the audience, re-tweet to gain attention of the Elite. If they get it they are happy and the "Elite" are validated as leaders of the pack. It sounds like high school. On the basis of this insight, marketers seeking to leverage Twitter need to craft a variety of statements, opinions and re-tweetable items that appeal to the "Elite" segment. If you can capture the imagination and attention of the segment that drives content creation and is the dynamo driving the Twitter ecosystem you have a shot at building credibility, frequency and virility.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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