and instead start talking with them. When I make presentations I always remind myself (and others) not to talk to the crowd, but instead talk with them. Engage them in the presentation and you might find yourself participating in a robust discussion instead of another ho-hum presentation. I know, easier said than done.
The same holds true in interacting with your customers. The more you talk with them, the more engaged they are, and the more likely they will be to share your product / service with others. I recently read a couple of books that prompted this post. They are “Contagious” by Jonah Berger who teaches at Wharton and “Highly Recommended” by Paul Rand. A quick side note, the book written by the professor (Berger) is well done and does not come across in a professorial manner. Reads more like a general strategy book. On the other hand, the non-professor’s book (Rand) definitely reads like a professorial tome. Somewhat didactic in nature as well. But I digress. In general, both of these books are good and focus on the same end goal, which is how products and services catch on with the masses. They are also both somewhat critical of Gladwell’s Tipping Point and I must admit more insightful.
I am not going to bore you with passages from each book, but focus on what I think is the most important aspect, which also happens to jibe with my experience. There are clearly a number of offline and online methods (Berger and Rand do a good job of describing) that a company can use to facilitate customer interaction. Whether you are soliciting ideas from customers or engaging them in contests of some sort, you may find yourself 2-3 steps ahead of the competition. Many companies have facebook pages, twitter accounts, etc. Many companies do a fine job of pushing information to customers via these channels, but how many provide a meaningful mechanism for feedback? More importantly, how many provide a meaningful mechanism for interaction? Take a step back from your day-to-day responsibilities and consider what activities you can influence so that your organization can better engage customers. What things can you do to influence “word of mouth” about the product or service you provide? Advertising has been around for quite some time, but an endorsement from another customer (an engaged customer) is much more powerful than a paid advertisement.
So, Stop Talking to Your Customers…And Instead Start Talking With Them
When Customers Make You Smarter.
A great post about the learning (and increased revenue) one can achieve when talking to potential customers. Based on the article, the team at Tidepool is going through a very structured process in launching their service. It seems, though, that the most important thing they learned (they were potentially leaving revenue on the table) came via an “aha” moment when talking to potential customers. A very important reminder that organizations should try their best to engage with customers (as well employees, suppliers, and the like) because “aha” moments do not necessarily come about when you are alone in the office (or lab) “thinking”. Get out there and interact with the users of your product / service. Listen to what they are saying and you might surprised by what you hear. Make sure to check out the video at the end of the post.
MIT lab builds self-assembling robot cubes | The Verge.
Take the time to watch the video in the article above. I think what the team at MIT has developed is very innovative and quite refreshing. Seemingly they have taken a page out of sci-fi movies and brought it to life. It will be interesting to see how their robots evolve over time.
Ad of the Day: JCPenney’s Precocious Fashionista Gets Sassy for Back to School | Adweek.
If creative ads are a precursor to a business turnaround, then JC Penney is poised for a roaring comeback. Take a second and watch the video. It will make your day. If JCP can get these ads in front of the right demographic via tv and the web, then who knows, maybe sales will improve. With all of the negative news surrounding JCP they could use a win, but they are going to have to earn it. Hopefully they will pull things together sooner rather than later. It is so easy to quickly destroy value. And as most of us should know, it takes quite awhile to turnaround a large corporate ship. Hopefully this ad is a sign of things to come at JCP.
For those of you who appreciate libraries, you will enjoy the photos that follow.
62 of the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries | Mental Floss.