Why Brands Like Shiny New Objects

While hanging onto shiny new objects may be the death trap for racoons, it’s just the opposite for brands. Brands like shiny new objects because customers do, too.

While hanging onto shiny new objects may be the death trap for racoons, it’s just the opposite for brands. Brands like shiny new objects because customers do, too.

Price, convenience, quality, variety and even good customer service is not enough to keep customers hanging on anymore. When a brand meets basic expectations, customers easily let go and move on in search of the shiny new object that sparks their interest, enthusiasm and fulfills their passion. However, when a brand offers the unexpected, customers often latch on and won’t let go; no matter how great competitors’ offers or incentives become.

But in a market where customer expectations run high, just what makes for a shiny object that keeps customers connected until the very end?

We know its not the clever ads, free content and rotating digital banners that chase consumers around the web. And we know its not reputation or how many likes your last Facebook post got over your competitors’ posts. One thing that does shine and shines bright is value. Extra value you can’t get anywhere else, even if it does not have a great monetary value, often gets consumers to latch on hard and long.

Just like the racoons, we consumers go for the shiniest value for most of what we choose and buy, luxury products excluded. We do silly things like drive in circles until we find the store that gives us more than we expected. Something as small as a free coffee with a gas tank refill, or the tenth carwash for free, or a free cookie with a deli sandwich purchase can do it. Value works for consumer purchases and business purchases, alike.

In the often cut-throat B2B market, the pressure is on to do more with less, and so purchasers seek greater value than the products they buy.

Negotiations for business contracts, whether it be for SaaS, ERP systems, paper supplies, printers or medical devices, are no longer just about price. They are about “what else can you give me” more often than not. And when asked, most suppliers negotiate and add in a few perks to close the deal. The key, however, is to offer that shiny new object, or maybe two or three, before they ask.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Rewards for Quantity: It’s nothing new to offer something for free in exchange for volume of purchases. So if you’re not doing this right now, find a way to do it. And soon. You can do this in any industry and it works. Consider your own purchases. You’re still with a specific airline or hotel brand, as you know you’ll get rewarded for volume with free stays or flights.
  2. Consulting or Tech Support at No Extra Cost: While tech support and training is a good revenue stream for many industries, it’s also something you can afford to offer for free, at some level, to those customers who impact your bottom line the most. Find ways to chunk out your training or support offerings into modules you can give away as added value for VIP customers without ruining your revenue streams.
  3. Offer Your Experts: Every brand has experts who are industry-leading in one way or another. Who are yours? And how can you offer their expertise to customers as part of an added value program?

Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of promoting the dull objects that have lost their appeal. And likely won’t be appealing again.

Essentially, there are many forms of shiny objects that attract customers and/or keep customers. It’s really all about understanding your customers, what matters most to them and what you have to offer that shines far brighter than offerings from others in your space.

In the Land of Shiny Objects

I am honored and excited to become a regular contributor on Target Marketing. I am excited at the prospect of generating vibrant conversations on a set of topics that represent one of the biggest challenges marketing leaders face today. As a marketing consultant at the intersection of data, technology and customer strategy, I have observed — frequently — that there is a vast divide between brand/ customer strategy and data/technology strategy.

shiny object
(Image via The Marketing Moron)

I am honored and excited to become a regular contributor on Target Marketing. I am excited at the prospect of generating vibrant conversations on a set of topics that represent one of the biggest challenges marketing leaders face today. As a marketing consultant at the intersection of data, technology and customer strategy, I have observed — frequently — that there is a vast divide between brand/ customer strategy and data/technology strategy.

Multiple industry surveys report that few executives feel their analytics and technical implementation are well-connected and strategic. Despite the fact that most customer interaction is becoming tech-driven, the abundance of affordable tech options is leading to highly tactical and sometimes confusing customer experiences. The core issue is rarely the technology itself. Most solutions can work just fine at driving greater customer engagement and building brand equity. The real impediments are often organizational and strategic in nature.

The Real Problem in Marketing

Organizational challenges include overall resistance to change, but also the presence of silos where they do not make much sense. Although much has been written about this topic under the umbrella of digital transformation, it’s incredible how challenging the organizational factor remains. I hope to unpack some of the critical underlying factors in subsequent postings.

The strategic issues, on the other hand, are discussed less often. The problem begins with the marketing technology industry, itself. Driven by billions of dollars in investments, the industry has thousands of solutions in the market, each desperately trying to prove its unique value. I refer to this as the “land of shiny objects.” As marketing leaders attempt to navigate this landscape, it is easy to lose strategic focus.

In this blog, we’ll discuss ways in which marketing organizations regain their strategic bearings and leverage their tech stack for both short-term and long-term gains.

11 Rules For Mobile Marketing Success

If you haven’t heard, a lot of people are talking about mobile. It’s mostly marketers doing the talking, but that’s because the businesses that they’ve helped have their heads down implementing mobile initiatives or at least started educating themselves to better understand how mobile will fit into their marketing mix.

If you haven’t heard, a lot of people are talking about mobile. It’s mostly marketers doing the talking, but that’s because the businesses that they’ve helped have their heads down implementing mobile initiatives or at least started educating themselves to better understand how mobile will fit into their marketing mix.

Now I could go dive into some juicy stats, like how mobile Internet usage will overtake that of desktop by 2014, or that 74 percent of consumers will wait only five seconds for Web pages to load on their mobile devices before abandoning sites. We could even discuss the 46 percent of consumers who are unlikely to return to your mobile site if it didn’t work properly during their last visit, but I’m not going to do that right now. 😉

After interviewing some of the top mobile specialists and brands that strategically use mobile to grow their businesses, I’ve noticed some recurring trends. If you want to use mobile and actually see results that create an impact on your business you can follow these rules:

1. Know your customer. You should create at least three customer personas to identify exactly who your audience is and each communication should be targeted to one of those users. You should aim to give these personas a name, know what their wants and desires are, what their frustrations are, etc. Are they smartphone users or might they have feature phones?

Make sure before crafting your messaging that you know who you’re talking to and how they’d like to keep in touch with you. Is it via email, SMS or possibly a phone call? You need cater to your specific customers or else you’ll be communicating to nobody.

2. Solve a problem. The best use of mobile comes when it solves a problem for someone, whether that be a customer, an employee or even just a problem within your business. Once you’ve identified the problem, ask yourself, “Can mobile solve it?” For example, can mobile possibly eliminate a once time-sucking, paper-pushing task and save time?

If your customers tend not to redeem direct mail coupons, maybe you can deliver offers right to their phone via SMS in order to drive traffic to your establishment during slower hours.

3. Only use mobile if it adds value. Is mobile the best solution? I love mobile, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not always the answer. Too many businesses get caught using mobile for mobile’s sake. Make sure your mobile strategy solves a problem, ultimately adding value to your customer’s life.

4. Don’t chase shiny objects. This is my favorite. Mobile technology is advancing super fast that it’s hard to keep up. It can be overwhelming, I know. People are talking about NFC (Near Field Communication, Augmented Reality, the mobile wallet etc.)

BUT, there is a reason that Coca-Cola allocates 70 percent of its mobile budget toward SMS. Your mobile initiative should be about efficiency NOT shiny objects. Make sure you can differentiate.

Oh, and did you notice that the iPhone 5 doesn’t have an NFC chip? There is a reason Apple chose not to add that feature this time around, but that’s a post for another time. 😉

5. Execute from start through finish: Ideas are great, but it always comes down to execution. Make sure you cover all touchpoints for the mobile component of your program. The most common mistake is driving customers to a non-mobile friendly website.

Your customers may end up on your site from an email, social feed, a QR code, an SMS or a mobile search. Make sure their experience is friendly and helpful, no matter what screen they’re on.

6. Simple is Sexy: Due to the pace of mobile innovation, sometimes things get complicated. Do everything in your power to make your mobile initiative easy to understand and participate in. Make sure you:

  • Use a clear call to action. Most failed campaigns bury the CTA.
  • Limit their options. Focus on your ONE objective then go from there.
  • Don’t make consumers jump through hoops. Does it take five steps to receive the value? Don’t do that. Deliver value immediately.

7. Identify how you’ll measure success. Again, a frequent mistake. You’ll never know if you were successful unless you have a base for success. Is it opt-ins, sales, scans, etc.? You get the point.

There is no way to tell where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. Establish criteria for success and monitor them during and after your campaign.

8. Deliver value to your customers: They are taking the time to engage with you on the most personal device they own. Make it worth their while.

9. Mobile won’t save your business: Mobile is just a piece of the puzzle. When viewed as a channel on its own, you’ll likely fail. Look at is a part of the whole and you’ll be in a position for success.

10. Look for ways to enhance offline experiences: Mobile places super nicely with other channels. In fact, mobile is one of the most dependent and complementary channels at the same time. Think about how mobile can give legs to your other programs.

Mobile offers an opportunity to take offline, once non-interactive experiences, online with a chance to extend the conversation.

11. Think mobile first: “Mobile first” is a hot topic right now around designing sites that are responsive toward a user’s device and intent. Mobile first goes beyond just your site to all of your points of engagement between you and a customer.

This is unfortunately hard for organizations that are uber-traditional. For those in that boat, I recommend asking yourself when planning any initiative, “What happens if they experience this program from their phone? What does that look like?” Figure it out and accommodate the mobile user.

If you can follow these 11 rules when adding mobile to your strategy you’ll be off to the best possible start and eliminate your odds of being featured on one of the many blogs that cover all the failures in mobile. 😉 You don’t want that to be you now, do you?