As a business, it's easy to get caught up in all the messages that we are trying to push out to our respective audiences—the selling and telling of our own story—and forget some of the most basic yearnings humans have.
When Vineet Nayar joined HCL Technologies as the CEO, he vowed to transform it into a company where employees were first—and customers were second.
Nayar believed that if he could inspire his people to pursue a vision which they owned and which still aligned with the company’s, magic would happen. And his experiment proved him right.
On this premise, he set to work to make it one of the fastest-growing and most profitable global IT services as well as one of the 20 most influential companies in the world.
But it required challenging the conventional wisdom that the customer is always right.
While at some level, this commonly heard business maxim speaks truth, in application it can lead to deadly results for employee engagement if we don't talk about where the line drawn on customer behavior.
As Alexander Kjerulf, author of Happy Hour is 9 to 5, tells it, Southwest drew a line with a frequent flyer who consistently complained about things that were simply part of their business model—like no assigned seats, no first class, no in-flight meals, and the casual atmosphere.
Wearied by her repeated tirades, Southwest's customer relations people eventually sent her comments on to then-CEO Herb Kelleher, who replied: "Dear Mrs. X, We will miss you. Love, Herb."
“Believing the customer is always right is a subconscious way of favoring the customer over the employee which can lead to resentment among employees. … Put employees first and they will be happy at work," says Kjerulf.
It is not too low of a bar to expect civility of both employees and customers, and yet most of us have witnessed the lack of it too many times in the workplace. As is often the case, the challenge is in the execution. It can feel a lot like refereeing siblings in a "he started it, she started it" squabble. But, as leaders, we're called to adjudicate these situations to determine whether an employee's behavior wrongly incited a frustrated customer, or whether a customer is being unreasonable, rude, or insulting.
To preserve a workplace with high engagement, a business must live its values—not just talk about them. This could mean walking away from some clients if their behavior does not allow the company to live up to its values of treating its own people with respect. Tolerating rude, insulting, or abusive behavior by customers drains the energy of employees and lowers morale. It effectively tells the employee that they do not deserve better treatment from others.
It's important to think about where popular ideas like "the customer is always right" reach their limits. Intuitively, we know that treating people well and providing a work environment that isn't hostile can help them flourish. This kind of environment unleashes loyalty, creativity, and the desire to take better care of the customers. In the end, respecting and retaining top employees not only impacts engagement, but ensures that your customers have the very best people attending to them.
Campaign-based microsites are websites with a custom URL that generally live outside of your corporate site and are created for one reason: to support a brand campaign.
They’re more effective at converting leads to sales for several reasons:
- The campaign promise is immediately obvious. Send users to your company website and you’re likely to lose them. Why? Because it’s too hard for them to find what the campaign promised. Even a few seconds looking for the item advertised will result in abandonment.
- Microsites often have far more design options than most corporate sites—which means they can often be more visually arresting. And good visuals help sell.
- Analytics for the campaign are easily viewed by agency and client, allowing the agency to make continual updates that improve SEO. This is faster, more efficient and effective than having a go-between.
- There’s just one call to action—and it’s the one that supports your ad campaign.
Don’t let your ad campaigns fall on deaf ears. Insist on a campaign microsite for any significant advertising campaign.
Not anyone can pull off a successful multi-million-dollar marketing campaign, but having access to the biggest names in sports is a good place to start.
Over the years, Nike, Inc. has used many of the world’s top athletes in their campaigns, but for the Olympics, they altered their strategy. For the 2016 games in Rio, Nike released their “Unlimited” campaign—which was executed to perfection.
Their first video, “Unlimited Future,” pans to a room filled with babies in cribs sporting nametags like: Neymar Jr, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Mo Farah and Zhou Qi. Actor Bobby Cannavale walks in and begins a Rocky-esque speech about how life isn’t fair, you don’t get to choose the circumstances in which you’re born into, but how you can determine your future—a future of greatness.
The stage and thesis are set for the campaign, and the message is broad. The campaign features one athlete per video with themes like:
- Champions weren't born champions. They were born babies.
- Life isn’t about finding your limits. It’s about realizing you have none.
- Youth has no age limit.
- Limits are only limits if you let them be.
These cleverly play off everyone’s motivation for greatness and desire to succeed. It’s uplifting, inspiring, and energizing. While this message that could be delivered by Adidas or Under Armour and be received just the same, it was Nike that did it.
The Unlimited series of films inspires viewers to push beyond the limits of what the world says they can do—a move that parallels what Nike is doing themselves by evolving beyond their “Just Do It” tagline.
Nike tells us that greatness is something everyone is capable of, and whether we believe them is beside the point, because either way they’ve created a tether between greatness and their own brand.
Image Source: YouTube
In some circles, great design is still considered a luxury. But more often than not, this idea is a fatal flaw for a brand.
Today’s consumer has sophisticated visual tastes created by the most creative communicators in the world. Their reference point for this is not just your competitors—it’s every message they get from any industry.
This is why great design is actually a brand differentiator. Great design provides instant visual cues about your brand that affiliate it with other brands familiar to the viewer—allowing them to decide in as little as a second if they want to further engage with you. The more oversaturated people are with information, the more they rely on these cues as short cuts for adjudicating a product or service. It’s simply an efficient way of navigating information.
Here are some common mistakes brands make when they don’t embrace this important truth:
- Spend heavily on a media buy, but use so-so stock images and design that send the viewer packing after one look.
- Spend millions on a new building and cheap out on photography. A top-drawer architectural photographer will bring a wow to your image that will pay off handsomely.
- Invest in new technology or services, then depict them on a visually inferior website.
It’s better to go with less in other areas than to settle for also-ran design.
While we’re not going to suggest that logos be updated with the yearly trends, we still like to watch design trends—as they reflect the consumer’s mood. Here are just a few identified by folks at justcreative.com:
1. Flat design
4. Negative space
5. Letter stacking
6. Mono lines
What trends do you think might outlast others?
Source: Jacob Cass at justcreative.com
Lists make popular reading. Maybe it’s because the number (whether it’s 3 or 10 or 12) signals to us how much time we’ll need to invest. Or maybe it signals that each item will be short. Or maybe we just feel a sense of satisfaction at finishing a list. Whatever the reason, lists are a perfect solution for delivering “snackable” content.
In this higher education video, we’ve captured 10 of the reasons students love Walla Walla University and packaged them as a story narrated by the university’s own president—to add another layer of connection.
What part of your business’ story could be reduced to a simple list?
Need ideas on how you can use video in your health care marketing and communications? Whether you want to sell, tell, inspire, persuade, announce, train or explain, video does it better than any other medium. Online video is the fastest-growing ad format and the medium of choice for consumers of all ages.
Consider Google’s recent insights on shopping for the holidays:
- More decisions are made in micro-moments throughout the day—like when waiting, walking or commuting.
- More decisions are made on the phone—up to 30%, according to Think With Google. In fact, shopping-related searches have grown more than 120% in the last year. And 82% of smartphone users will consult with their phone while they are in the store.
- 32% of shoppers plan to use video for holiday purchases.
- 64% of smartphone viewers would rather watch a video to answer questions than pick up a phone or read a manual.
- Sundays are the biggest shopping days. And yet, the day when more businesses have shorter hours or are closed altogether.
Perhaps the biggest shift is that we have gone from focusing on a given task to splintering tasks into hundreds of bite size moments, according to Lis Gevelber, VP Marketing at Google.
Gevelber says these moments “are increasingly where hearts, minds and dollars are being won and lost…. And companies that measure and respond to micro-moments are gaining a very big edge on the competition. Mobile is the new from door to your brand and your stores. Are you at the door, ready to help?”*
So what does this mean for your business—even if you aren’t in retail? Often, the service industry will lag retail trends, but retail trends are a harbinger of consumer behaviors that will come your way. Here’s what you can do right now to respond to these:
- While mobile must be a central part of any marketing strategy, having a mobile-friendly site is not enough. The content that your customers most crave must be available and easy to use on mobile.
- Attention spans are shorter, so content you want to convey has to be delivered as snackables—short messages that fit between a myriad of other tasks.
- Consumers want content in video form—and frequently will choose it over “reading”.
- Can your customers find what they want on weekends and evenings—when they have discretionary time?
Now’s a good time to think about how these trends will affect your business, and to ask what your competitors are doing better than you are in each of these categories.
* Source: Micro-Moments and the Shopper Journey
A new mom has lots of questions about her delivery. To help her sort it through, this hospital has prepared some useful guides. But let’s admit it—new moms also like Pinterest. They’re more likely to read something that looks beautiful—in addition to being helpful content.
Are you giving your target audience reason to step into your content? Understanding what they already love to look at it can be a great first step.
Whether or not we like it, we are increasingly people of the moment—or even the micro-moment. We hear about a book and want to order it right then. We see a plant and want to identify it, or spot those fabulous boots and want to buy them.
What does this mean for marketers? You already know that mobile use is sky-rocketing. But it also means that your digital presence is vital. How you look and feel in the first seconds of a customer interaction determines if they’ll stay or go.
Good writing, good design and having a mobile-friendly site isn’t optional any more. It’s imperative. If your company is already there, hooray. But if they’re not, learn to create the moments your clients crave—and see what happens.
One author thinks so. According to a study by Randy Garner at Sam Houston State University, the addition of a sticky note significantly improved the chances of reply. While his research centered on survey results, one could see this finding applied to direct mail, too.
You can read the whole article here.
Fear is a major driver in human behavior, and the birth of a new baby is no exception. While emotions around this event pair both joy and anxiety, before a hospital can ever sell a particular aspect of their service, they need to allay the fears of the new mom.
This ad starts by showing that this hospital team absolutely understands the emotional turbulence of pregnancy, and that they are completely prepared for all of the things you’re worried about. It moves the new mom from worry to calm by inviting them back to their own place of wonder.
Although the text is short, it’s a very strategic journey designed to connect, draw in and evoke an emotional tie with the physicians and the hospital.
What fears does your service or product allay for your customers?
Associative storytelling is the grown-up child of the popular testimonial. It uses story to evoke affinity with customers by allowing the brand to play a secondary role to the values it promotes. In the end, the customer-brand bond this creates is much stronger than one created with a traditional “here’s why you need this” sales approach.
Why is this?
First of all, we’re all tired of being sold to. Selling is pervasive, indiscriminate and wearying. So when we are allowed to enter a story without an overt sales messages, we find not only a respite from intense selling messages, we may even find a piece of ourselves. Yes, we say, we agree with you. Like with this Thai Life Insurance ad, we resonate an idea—in this case, that there are things in life that money can’t buy.
And secondly, associative storytelling feels more respectful to us as consumers. It allows us to make up our minds when we’re ready—rather than being forced to take in a sales message we’re not ready to hear.
We’re not ready to say that testimonials are no longer valuable, but we do believe associative storytelling can be much more effective in building bonds with consumers.
We chose each element of this maternity services video—the voice, the script, the visual look, the music, the animation effects and the custom baby photos shot by our partner, Tami Wilson—to depict the extra attentiveness our client brings to their patients.
Within the first few days of posting the video on their Facebook page, it had more than 2,000 views.
What ways have you used to incorporate videos and photos into your social media strategy to increase engagement?
See the difference a professional shot makes. Top photo: We called in a pro. Bottom photo: They should have called in a pro.
Advertising has to work on every level. For many, it will be the only impression of your company or service that the consumer gets—or at least their first impression. So make the effort and investment you put into your message commensurate with the investment you’ve put into your product or service. Often times, companies will hire architects and designers for a new facility, for example, but fail to represent it accurately by saving money on the marketing. They’ll hire and train great people to deliver a good experience, but never connect them with the public due to low quality advertising.
So don’t do it. Avoid these 5 deadly money-saving ways to kill an ad campaign:
- “We saw a campaign we liked somewhere else that we’d like to copy.” Even if it were ethical to “borrow” creative, for the campaign to work everything about their market and your market would need to be the same—demographics, your own organization’s reputation, your ability to deliver on the promise, attitudes and culture.
- “We’ll take the pictures ourselves.” Unless you have a professional photographer on staff, this can be a costly mistake. We called in one of our pros to shoot the photo above to move the needle on the “Wow” factor using a myriad of technical and other tricks that could never be reproduced by an amateur. That photo projects a level of excellence for the urgent care center that can’t be put into words. You want to go there even before you read the copy.
- “We can’t afford a professional designer.” Companies will spend thousands of dollars on the media buy but cheat the very message by lackluster, unprofessional or simply ineffective design. Before making this decision, ask how much you’ve already invested in the product or service, and whether this relatively small investment in good design will reflect the image you’re looking for.
- “We can’t afford a professional writer.” There are all kinds of writers, and they differ in the same way there are all kinds of balls—footballs, golf balls, ball bearings—you name it. They are not interchangeable any more than a copywriter or a technical writer is. Good copy writers know how to get and keep the reader’s attention, and most importantly, how to sell.
- “We can’t afford research.” Unless you’re sure you understand the mind of your target audience, this is like buying a plane ticket to a destination without specifying the destination. Underlying any kind of creative are assumptions that, if wrong, will decimate your campaign.
If budgets are too tight, we’d recommend doing less, but doing it better. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
You’ve put together an elegant campaign—all the right messages, all the right media. And then it happens.
You drive the reader to your website, and lose them.
This occurs too often, but there’s a simple solution: the campaign microsite.
A campaign microsite is a website that is exclusively developed to support the campaign. It allows you to control the user experience, deliver on your ad promises, and curate the strategic messages you want your viewers to see—without any advertising messages that you can’t control.
It also keeps the viewer from having to dig through your website to find the promised message—which often ends up losing them if the content can’t be found fast.
Want to see a microsite that’s working in action? Email us at TalkWithUs@CMBell.com for one of our latest examples.
If you’re in the business of communicating or marketing, then you’ll want to know about cultural trends.
Here’s a quick little slide show that can give you a snapshot of trends—from lifelogging and cardboard products to The Alternet and moodgeisting (technologies that read emotion). While many of these may not take off, some will. So strap yourself in and take a glimpse into the year ahead.
Do you see any trends here that suggest business opportunities in your industry?
Without employee support, no strategy—no matter how brilliant—gets executed. Aligning employee behavior is one of the most important tasks of leadership. Here are seven tips that can help you achieve this:
- No CEO can speak personally to every employee. So be sure to deliver the message in a format that can be shared and spread organically. Generally, video is the medium of choice because it engages all of the senses.
- Give employees a reason to believe. Help employees move from fear of change to acceptance and implementation, by showing how it will impact customers.
- Make it relevant to their world, their concerns. Skip all the technical details and show how it will benefit them.
- Make it speak to the heart, as well as the head. People don’t change behavior because they get a list of reasons to do so. They change because something has stirred within them a desire to change. To be successful, your strategy needs both the detailed action items and the visionary, inspirational component.
- Make the destination as real and compelling as you can. You are, after all, asking them to make a journey to an unknown destination. There are no travel brochures except the ones you create—so invest in making them well.
- Use the best tools available. This is no job for the predictable PowerPoint presentation. To move people, the communication tool should engage all of the senses with sound, visuals and words. It should reflect the same level of quality that your workplace does.
- Coherence. And finally, words matter. But actions talk, too. Make sure that there’s coherence between what you say and how you live your talk throughout your organization.
Need some inspiration? Here’s a video we just produced for a large, nonprofit health care system to launch their new strategic plan.
Adventist Health Strategy Video
Adventist Health Banners