Defining the Brand: Loyalty or Acquisition?

Like most mornings before I get my day rolling, I check the internets and see what’s going on.  Lo and behold, my buddy Bryan Willmert shared this article about gamification from Mashable.  In this article, we are presented with the game mechanics needed for customer loyalty:

  1. Define the “grind” – a clear and easy-to-understand action as the core of your product and loyalty effort
  2. Lay down an XP (“experience points”) system
  3. Create five social actions
  4. Develop a Social Loop With Appointment Mechanics
  5. Have a Reward System Based on SAPS (non-cash rewards by the way)

As I read it, I was reminded of something I posted a couple of years ago where I recommended my former employer change their focus from customer acquisition to customer loyalty.  Now, I’m not naive as I completely understand in the automotive industry, sales are king, BUT I will say that times have changed and that focus might need to make a shift towards loyalty, customer relationship marketing, customer experience or whatever you want to call it.

My “out of the box” idea to my friends at The General would be to take the $10 million you pulled from Facebook advertising and the money you would have spent on the Super Bowl and invest some (or all?) of it into a platform that develops the Apple following I’ve heard many of my former colleagues talk about when I was there.  If you want to develop a car culture where you have people talking about you on their own, provide recommendations and not have to rely mainly on incentives, why not give it a shot?

Check out the following chart that just happened to pop into my inbox as I was writing this:

Most companies would love to see this chart about them, wouldn’t they?  Things are different now, especially online.  Investment must be made and the platform and consumers need to be cultivated.  The biggest question is, are you patient enough to wait?

Don’t Be A Dinosaur

If you saw Moneyball, you’ll know the scene.  It’s the scene that summarizes why I am the way that I am.  It’s the scene that explains why I want to challenge the “way things have always been done” because when it gets to that point, it’s time to do something new.  It’s the scene that explains why I challenge those that ask what the ROI of social is when the only measurement I can get from a large TV media buy is impressions (bold statement to make but certainly appropriate).

Marketing is different.  I subscribe to the notion that “social media” has transformed marketing from  megaphone to dialogue.  Consumers now expect to have conversations with brands.  The DVR era has made commercials an easy thing to skip, but guess what…brands are putting them on YouTube so they can get more eyeballs and socializing them on Facebook and Twitter.  That’s a little funny to me.

I think many people and brands understand this and are trying to figure it out.  We all know what Old Spice did in taking their traditional TV commercial and transforming it into a platform that in a humorous way talked to its consumers and fans.  They understood this “trend” and took a chance on something that was different.

The critics of social media and those that say it doesn’t work only have themselves to blame.  I recently read an article from Ian Schafer on Ad Age (definitely take the time to read it) where he talks about this very thing.  Two things resonated with me.

  1. FACEBOOK IS NOT A PUBLISHER. FACEBOOK IS A PLATFORM. And it’s the way people spend the most time with digital media.
  2. Solely blaming Facebook for their inability to deliver advertising ROI, or enough metrics, is like blaming the school you went to for your salary not being high enough. Advertisers are in full control of the experiences they create on and off the platform.

At the end of the day, we control the advertising switch.  It’s up to us to flip the switch and do things that engage consumers and make them want to engage with you.  That includes using the platforms for conversation and not publishing as well as embracing technology and allowing the consumers to have the power to make their brand experiences personal.

Don’t be a dinosaur.

Time For A Change

Back in November, I posed the question, Which Way Do I Go?

Well, I have an answer for you.

Look for my thoughts on marketing, advertising, social media, and technology at Edooce, where I’ll be partnering with Bryan Willmert.  This just seemed like a natural partnership given how much Bryan and I have in common and the different perspectives that we can bring.  We still have a lot to plan and sort through, however, we know that we want to do this with specific objectives in mind.

Salt and Light will remain my primary platform to talk about my faith, my family and other fun musings.  I’ve been blogging for more than a year now and it just felt it was time to shake things up a bit.  As I continued to write about the many different things going on in my life, the “”business” side of my posts began to feel out of place here.  One thing that I’ve learned while doing this is to continuously evaluate and change for the better.  I’m hopeful this is a step in that direction.

I’ve been warned by people I trust that maintaining 2 blogs (3 if you count Rey(es) of Light) is going to be difficult.  I’m aware and ready for that challenge.  I might as well take that on for one of my 2011 goals!

I’m humbled and grateful for those of you that have come here over the last 16 months.  Please don’t stop!  I really feel I still have a lot to share!  Thank you again and I look forward to seeing you HERE and THERE.

What Do You Know? Share it!

Something has been on my mind lately.  Well a lot of things have been on my mind but I’ll write about one of those things today.  It’s the idea of sharing, particularly with the social web.

Many of the people I interact with in this space all agree on what we, as users who are passionate about the web, need to be focusing on:  educating,  teaching, sharing information.  For many companies, they are still trying to figure out how Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like can help business and engage consumers.

I was having a conversation with Shannon Paul last night at a TweetUp for Jeff Pulver‘s 140 Conference in Detroit.  She was telling me about an idea that she had to bring downtown companies together and really begin educating everyone about how the internet and the social web can help businesses.  This is a blossoming idea…hopefully more to share on that later.

On another occasion, Jason Falls was presenting to some folks at GM and he gave us his strategy for Twitter, “Share good (stuff).”

I’m amazed at the quality of people that I’ve been able to meet because of Twitter.  Each and every one wants to make a difference and educate others.  For those of us that make a living in this space, I encourage all of you to continue with that mindset and share the good stuff.  We all know that the internet isn’t a fad.  It’s going to continue to evolve the way we communicate with each other.  We have an opportunity to continue educate people and companies and build community.

In this spirit, I wanted to remind of you what’s happening in Detroit on October 20.  The 140 Conference will be happening at The Fillmore Theatre.  This conference has the opportunity to make a lasting impact on this community.  What is the story you want to tell?  Do you know someone who has a great story?  This conference has been about how the web has promoted change for good and made a difference.  If you already have experiences on how the social web has helped you or if you’re just remotely curious, register today!  A lot can be learned at this one day event.

What do you know?  How are you going to share it?  Have a great weekend everyone!

UPDATE: I just saw that my friend Dave Murray just posted this on his blog…dare I say great minds think alike?

Addicted?

The use of social web is an incredible tool to extend our reach to beyond just a local basis in just the circles where we know people. I know for myself personally, I have been able to see new friendships develop, possible jobs develop, a larger community brought closer to home. As a person who is not a life long Detroiter, coming here was a little nerve racking and I have been able to see many great friendships develop through my job and through connecting within the social media networks.

Getting to know people and to develop friendships takes a great deal of time.  I have noticed that being involved in social media can take a great deal of time to truly develop such friendships. Chris Brogan shared similar thoughts in a recent video.

This begs the following questions:

Are you addicted to the interaction?

How do you use the social web?

Are there other relationships that have struggled because of social media?

Do you use your social media platform to spur on relationships or business?

4 Opportunities for Buick and GMC

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while but finally decided (after some encouragement from my friend Gini Dietrich, a.k.a. Wonder Woman) to put my ideas out there.  I’ve talked a lot about why I think the social web is important.  Now I want to give some practical ways I believe large companies (like mine) can benefit from the social tools and begin to build their community.

There is a huge opportunity to truly interact with our customers through the tools that are now commonplace with most other companies.  Last month, I blogged about how important the customer was and posted a video from the Saturn Homecoming.  Today’s post expands on that.  These are 4 strategies that I’d love to see implemented at Buick and GMC.

1. Develop a loyalty rewards program
I believe Loyalty Reward programs have tremendous value.  Think about how many people wanted to rack up their airline miles for free tickets?  I’d take this to a different level for us.  I’d establish a Buick and GMC Loyalty Rewards program for owners.  Once you buy a vehicle from us, we reward you with a baseline amount of points.  These points can be used for discounted subscriptions for OnStar and XM.  What about using the points to attend special events sponsored by Buick and GMC?  Additional points can be earned when purchasing accessories or doing regular maintenance at a Buick and GMC dealer.  Why not reward someone for making a major purchase decision in your favor?

2. Interact with the 47,000 Facebook “likes”
Humanize your brand.  Give it a personality.  Develop a community and an environment people can interact with people.  For one thing, I’d showcase some of our employees.  Who is the face behind the all new Buick Regal?  What do you want to know about the Marketing Manager for the GMC Terrain?  (Ford recently did this with Explorer.)  I believe this would change some of the perceptions that currently exist about our company and the type of consumers we attract if they got to know the employees behind the logos.

What about showcasing the people that bought our products?  Facebook is really their forum.  As a marketer, I want to know who bought from us.  Encourage new owners to post pictures with their new Buick LaCrosse or their GMC Sierra and give us a comment as to why they love it and share their story!

3. Start a Corporate Blog
This idea started swirling around my head after I read this post from Social Media Examiner.  It talks about the influence blogs can have in search rankings.

  1. Adds naturally occurring, keyword-rich pages.
  2. Increases the potential for incoming links from high-quality websites.

A blog is one of the best ways to continually add pages to a website that generate relevant and reputable links.

If you want more reasons to do a corporate blog, Ted Defren just published this post on his blog.  In short:

  1. Blogging gives your company a voice
  2. Blogs are better place to direct people than your corporate website
  3. Blogging enforces respectfulness
  4. Blogging is timeless
  5. Blogging enforces content creation

Another reason to start a corporate blog is to further give the company a personality and build our consumer community.  Is there content that we could offer that talks about things other than the vehicles we sell?  Could it be social causes?  What about biographies of our leadership or employees?

4. Foursquare
Location based services are the current rage.  Foursquare is offering window clings to companies like Whole Foods to display so customers will check in and learn about special offers these stores offer.  Why not take this same approach to our dealerships or locations where we have sponsored events?  This could tie back in to the Loyalty Reward program I mentioned above!

The final thing I’ll leave you with is this.  Joseph Jaffe talks a lot about customer service in his book, Flip the Funnel.  Last night, I came across this quote as I was reading his book:

Customer service is a front-office strategic imperative that belongs at the same table as strategic planning, marketing communications, branding and advertising.

I’d replace “Customer Service” with “Customer Experience”.  Either way, this needs a seat at the strategic planning table.  This is where leadership buys in to the plan and is willing to invest in it.  With the web as a platform for consumers to get their voices heard quickly, you need to make the investment in money and man power to participate in this conversation.

By no means are these ideas “new”, but they may be “new” to my industry.  I just see these as great opportunities to integrate into our traditional marketing efforts.  What do you think?  Would this work for you as a consumer?

It’s In Your Hands

I was going through my Google Reader this morning and came across this beautiful post from Seth Godin:

When are you going to start acting like it?

The idea that you are a faceless cog in a benevolent system that cares about you and can’t tell particularly whether you are worth a day’s pay or not, is, like it or not, over.

In the long run, we’re all dead. In the medium-long run, though, we’re all self-employed. In the medium-long run, the decisions and actions we take each day determine what we’ll be doing next.

And yet, it’s so easy to revert to, “I just work here.”

Like most things I read, my mind starts to think.  Yes, I know that’s dangerous.  In a few words, Seth reinforces something that we all know already…we are responsible for making the most of what is given to us.  No other person can really determine our future except us.  Our future is in our hands.

It’s easy for me to feel like the “faceless cog” Seth mentions in his post,  especially working in such a large company like General Motors.  However, it doesn’t have to be that way.  For example, most of you know how passionate I am about the internet, technology and especially the social web.  Although I don’t have responsibility for it at work, I’ve made it my hobby and brought it into my everyday life through my Twitter feed, Facebook, and this blog.  The work has paid off.  I’ve made some great connections with people in the social web community, been recognized as knowledgeable in the space by my peers and recently guest blogged on my friend Gini Dietrich‘s blog, Spin Sucks.  Other opportunities to guest blog have recently come and I plan to take advantage of those too.

My point in all of this is that the Social Web gives you a voice when you may have thought you don’t have one.  Networking, building relationships, providing value, etc. are ways you can build your own community.  The challenge is being patient enough to build your community and look for those opportunities to do what you love and are passionate about.

“If you build it, they will come.”  It’s in your hands.