This is the season when gifting and shipping reaches a frenzied peak — and with it the highest level of product fulfillment mistakes – – the wrong product, the wrong location, missed timing, missed gift message, etc. It’s inevitable.
For those fulfilling orders, mistakes are going to happen. And the fallout is customer dissatisfaction.
There are two ways to deal with mistakes:
1) wring your hands and work to assign blame, OR
2) as has been attributed to both Winston Churchill and former Chicago Mayor and Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel – “Never let a good crisis go to waste”
What this means is, mistakes provide an opportunity to go above and beyond in correcting the mistake, which can actually generate more goodwill than getting it right the first time.
In other words, it is possible to fail your way to customer satisfaction.
We hereby repost one of our most popular posts on this topic, from 2017.
The best kept secret in business – – really – – that the nation’s top business schools are keeping from you is that all management issues can be solved through the use of quadrants. Really, all of them.
This introduces Quadrant Corner, which will periodically shed light on how you can better understand some of the thorniest, as well as some of the most obvious, issues – – simply through the use of quadrants.
The best quadrants have two axes, where the resulting intersections have meaningful insights.
We promise to not bother you with stars or barnyard animal nicknames or anything like that. That stuff is yesterday’s news. And we definitely won’t use things that look like quadrants but are really just a way to stuff related ideas into a box to look more profound (and charge higher consulting fees). Like the annoying SWOT chart – – which is just 4 semi-related ideas smashed together in a graphic. Cha-ching!
We begin with the inspiration of music.
As someone who periodically plays music to get fellow old people to dance, I can tell you that the party song list is really important. Every song must either be something danceable or something familiar – – and the best songs qualify in both categories (songs that have neither attribute are a quick trip to a short party).
You need to jam the list with upper-right songs that everyone knows well enough to sing or air-guitar along with while they spill their G & Ts while unwittingly doing great Elaine imitations.
It’s fine to throw in the occasional the danceable but less universally known songs – – your Beck, your Skrillex – -but don’t overdo it. Similarly, fine to mix in a few stadium songs or ballads or Bohemian Rhapsody – – but don’t let your crowd get too comfortable.
The quadrant above shows the relationship between the appeal to the group (danceability) and the need to minimize effort (familiarity).
The same theory could apply to implementation of new business practices (I know, I know – – just stay with me for a minute). In a business context, appeal to the group is changed from can you dance to it to ‘what’s in it for me’ – – the expectation that the outcome of orientation/ training will be immediately beneficial (more $, greater chance for promotion, less tedium, etc).
On the other axis, the ‘required effort’ measure is defined as ease of putting the new approach into practice. Like familiar songs, it’s comfortable to attend training where the concepts are easy and there’s a catered lunch. However, a steady diet of familiarity – – or in this case, ‘fun’ training – – with no substantial hope of personal benefit, may be a welcome break from the routine, but is not a good long-term proposition.
Online shopping’s biggest barrier is sometimes called the ‘final mile’ – – and like a long bridge that has an unfinished gap, an otherwise great online retailer fails if it can’t get the goods all the way to your front door.
The same applies to traditional media, where either the message, or the call-to-action, or both, can be bungled.
This ancient reminder for marketers is to remember to keep the audience in mind when crafting your message. It’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.
I am referring today to very old-school media — radio and outdoor. To be effective, they need to make the message or benefit simple and clear, and effectively tell the listener or viewer how they can take action. Too many advertisers fail this simple test.
Let’s look at a few examples.
Radio – – if nothing else, it MUST say where you can go for more information!
Too many radio forget you can’t see what they’re saying or write things down – – you can only listen and hope you got it right. “Hey, I’m driving, I’m texting and don’t have a freaking free hand right now!” Radio doesn’t have a pause or rewind function.
On their expansion in the US, Cartridge World leveraged radio heavily. Unfortunately the company executive that did the voiceover pronounced the company name something like ‘krtrgwrl”. OK at corporate HQ but useless to someone who never heard the name before.
Everyone’s favorite, Kars 4 Kids, runs radio spots that have the dual threat of ubiquity and annoyance – – and yet they assume you know that their URL has a ‘4’ and not ‘for’. Not helpful in allowing people to find them. If you do find them, you may find their mission a little surprising.
URL watchouts: Using an unfamiliar name that may be difficult for the listener to spell (e.g. Shlotzskys); using shorthand like ‘U’ for ‘You’; using sound-alikes (‘C’, ‘See’, ‘Sea’) that aren’t clear; using dashes or underscores; using numbers (use the numeral or spell it out?).
Location watchouts: using a street address (‘1060 W. Addison Street’) rather than a more easily remembered location (‘Wrigley Field’).
Net, just remember that your listener doesn’t know you, can’t write stuff down, and so make it as easy as possible to take away a key benefit and how to reach you.
Outdoor – – this is where even more heinous communication crimes occur. Particularly on expressways, where presumably the intended viewer is driving fast, hopefully paying attention to the road, but probably also still texting.
In any case, there are only a few fleeting seconds to grab their attention. So make it simple, make the type big, and get out of they way.
The following examples either have an unidentifiable offering, are unreadable, have impossible to read contact info, or a combination of the above.
If you are contemplating outdoor, do a flashcard test to see if a colleague can get the point in a few seconds.
And – – watch your spelling!
This is the final post of 2017. Next year The Armchair MBA will offer a series of tips on how to spot scurrilous email scams, based on a carefully curated collection of several hundred emails with bad intentions!
Recently Donald Trump’s campaign acquired the domain for jebbush.com* and directed it to donaldjtrump.com.
This raises the question, what sort of campaign is Jeb! running when his staff hasn’t even registered his own name?
Classic domain warfare dictates scooping up all likely (as well as expected negative) URLs so you can control the message.
As it turns out, Jeb! is not the only one who has missed this rather basic tactic. (the screen shots below can be clicked through to the actual sites). In fact, depending on whether the middle initial ‘J’ is involved, The Donald missed a few himself.
—> http://www.tedcruz.com was taken over by a group promoting immigration reform, forcing Ted’s people to base operations on tedcruz.org (wouldn’t have been his first choice).
By the measure of controlling the URL landscape, overall, aside from the Megyn Kelly thing, Trump does pretty well. He grabbed Jeb’s site (probably paid a squatter for it), and got ahead of a few ‘Ihate***.com’ sites, including some of his competitors. (see chart below)
Ted Cruz and Jeb! fare worst. They don’t have their name.com URL and both need a less obvious URL for their base of operations. Jeb particularly has been rumored as a presidential candidate for at least 30 years. You would think he would have been savvy enough to get ahead of the game and grab his own name domain.
John Kasich, Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson, and Hillary Clinton have decided to invest in only one URL. The others are somewhere in between.
Is URL control a huge deal? Probably not – – someone who gets redirected is likely not going to be automatically swayed just by landing on an unexpected site.
But still, there’s something to be said for controlling access to your message. Maybe it’s time for each of us to look at www.(your name)sucks.com and see what comes up!
*in WordPress, jebbush auto-corrects to nebbish. hmmm.
Year-end innovation reviews often focus on the past year’s cool new things. But coolness doesn’t guarantee big success (see: Apple Watch). And innovation doesn’t always mean new things.
True innovation is successfully meeting your target audience’s needs in a new way.
2015 saw its share of new ways to connect with the audience. In some cases, marketers successfully grew their businesses by figuring out new ways to connect with consumers with the same products.
So in an effort to suck the fun out of this simple post, The Armchair MBA has created a handy Innovation Quadrant Chart, with examples, to illustrate his point.
One axis is whether the product is existing or new, the other is whether the use or market is existing or new
The point is that while cool stuff is, well, cool — creative marketers can find meaningful growth with existing products or existing markets.
Existing product/Existing market
GEICO has had the same marketing strategy for over 200 years, and its ads are so ubiquitous that breaking through the clutter and maintaining awareness is a big challenge. GEICO knows that no one will voluntarily sit through another GEICO ad, given the option. What to do?
To address this issue, GEICO co-opted the annoying and often ignored pre-roll (the ads shown before the video content you are waiting to see). The viewer is thus ambushed with the main message within the first few seconds (“You can’t skip this GEICO ad – because it’s already over”), and the rest of the spot is essentially wasted (but still amusing) airtime.
GEICO gets in a quick reminder and the rest of the spot is engineered for viral use.
Watching these actors keep straight faces while the dog destroys their dinner table (after the first 5 seconds) is worth the wait.
Existing product/New market
McDonald’s has endured years of lackluster growth in the face of fast casual and burger competitors (e.g. Panera, Chipotle, Shake Shack).
To drive growth, they’ve streamlined their menu, added promotions, experimented with new products (revamped Quarter Pounder, Premium Sirloin Burger), and even tweaked their positioning (removing antibiotics from chicken, going to cage-free eggs).
The jury is out as to how durable this growth is, but by leveraging tried-and-true products to compete in new markets (lunch), McDonald’s has reenergized the business.
New Product/Existing Market
A company called Bragi recently introduced “the world’s first wireless smart earphones”, called The Dash.
By eliminating wires they’ve solved a significant consumer issue, and by integrating a music player, tracking and communications features, The Dash is a formidable (and at $299, costly) new alternative on the landscape.
These earphones are unlikely to bring in new users, but these features are very likely to steal market share – – again, by identifying and solving an existing consumer need in a new way.
New Product/New Market
Finally, a company called TrackR Inc. introduced a product called Bravo, which is a coin-sized device that attaches to things like keys, and by using an associated app, allows the user to find these often-misplaced items. It costs around $30.
By applying technology to an increasing annoyance for an aging population, TrackR has essentially created a market of small, inexpensive ‘memory helpers’.
These examples are a very small slice of lots of creative approaches that were taken in 2015 to grow business.
The key for marketers is to understand unaddressed consumer needs (even if the consumers don’t know they have a need yet), understand what assets and barriers are at work, and offer a better way.
It is unclear whether anyone has yet solved the problem of helping you remember what you were going to get when you went down to the basement.
To those who have subscribed to The Armchair MBA blog: Thank you! I continue to work hard to keep your eyeballs.
I’ve just learned that in some browsers the links I embed in my posts don’t show up. Today’s post, for example, was all about some rather shameful WalMart TV commercials but for some people the links didn’t appear at all.
For future posts, I encourage you to go to http://www.thearmchairmba.com (bookmark it if you feel particularly tech-savvy) – – I typically put several links in each post. This way you’ll get every last drop of goodness from each post. In the meantime, I’ll try to figure out a workaround.
For most people in Chicago, and many across the U.S., this year’s Little League World Series rivaled any other sport in excitement and inspiration. This was in no small measure due to a few unexpected subplots.
Yet Little League, with a chance to embrace a unique opportunity to broaden its appeal, missed a golden opportunity in its TV marketing effort.
For those who didn’t follow the LLWS (which ended yesterday), two story lines completely dominated the coverage, and for good reason:
1) A team of kids from Chicago’s South Side, Jackie Robinson West, overcame significant odds to reach (and win!) the U.S. Little League Championship game (falling short in the World title game to a very strong South Korean team). These kids, all African-American, are generally from less privileged backgrounds, yet showed how far a person can go, through preparation, determination, poise and pluck. It was a joy to watch these kids play, and they truly united the city of Chicago across all socioeconomic and demographic strata, a particularly welcome shift from Chicago’s more typical tragic stories of violence. They are true role models for everyone, not least those for whom organized sports may be less accessible.
2) Mo’ne Davis, from Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons team, became the first girl to pitch a complete game shut-out in the LLWS, with pitches over 70 mph. For opposing batters, that would equal a major league pitch of over 90 mph (due to the shorter distance to the plate). Mo’ne’s heroics helped her team to third place overall, and created significant publicity for her, including the cover of Sports Illustrated. For girls everywhere, Mo’ne is a fantastic role model.
These two stories elevated Little League to a meaningful place in cultural significance, with stories about opportunity, teamwork, dedication and perhaps above all, inclusion.
Unfortunately, during the broadcast Little League, in a continuation of its ‘I am Little League’ campaign, showed a PSA that completely missed an opportunity. The faces in the otherwise well-done spots were for the most part straight out of Norman Rockwell circa 1950: charming kids but not a person of color, and certainly not a girl, in sight. (I saw this spot but was unable to locate it online.)
Here’s a fairly typical PSA from earlier in 2014; based on this past week, ‘I am Little League’ is now quite inaccurate:
In a world where organized sports for kids are increasingly specialized and expensive, there are too few examples of kids participating for the sheer love of the game (as opposed to a stepping stone to a pro career), or examples of girls competing effectively with boys on equal terms.
This year’s LLWS was a tremendous chance to say “We’re Little League – – we don’t care where you’re from – – if you want to play, we want you!”.
So perhaps this year’s LLWC was two big steps forward, and one back, but at least it’s headed in the right direction. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to make plans to attend Chicago’s parade Wednesday for the Jackie Robinson West team.
Originally posted on StratGo Marketing: Photo: PBS.org Thanks to the PBS Masterpiece series Mr. Selfridge, viewers on both sides of the pond have been introduced to the world of retail marketing and merchandising innovator Harry Selfridge. In 1909, Harry Gordon Selfridge launched his eponymous London department store Selfridges, which today is an iconic landmark. The…
One of the great things about online shopping has been the free shipping, often via retailer promotions (‘free shipping over $50’) or programs like Amazon Prime.
Isn’t it terrific? You can be prancing around doing whatever one does when one prances, and should a random thought pop into your head like “man, I really need a Teflon fly-swatter”, you can just go online, order it, and before you know it, like Bugs Bunny waiting at the mailbox for his order from Acme, a Teflon fly-swatter arrives at your doorstep, typically in a box big enough to hold a microwave oven.
Long Haired Hare (1949)
Well, you may want to get your impulse shopping Jones satisfied now, because the sad news is that free shipping as we know it is likely to be changing. Reality bites.
This past week FedEx announced it was changing its freight policy to include not only weight, but also the dimensions of the shipped product. This will result in increased shipping costs on about 1/3 of items, particularly large but lightweight products (e.g. toilet paper) that fill up trucks or planes but don’t represent as much revenue (or profit).
Similarly, Groupon, which also sells a few things from time to time, has increased its free shipping threshold from $20 to $25.
Why the changes? Well, the short answer is that you can’t download stuff you order online.
Amazon might have the most amazing distribution centers, but stuff still has to be shipped with pre-internet technology like TRUCKS and AIRPLANES and HUMANS. And the cost of fuel of all of these mechanisms is going up, as are fees, taxes and everything else. Like a bridge that goes 99% across a river, that final 1% really makes or breaks the whole program.
– there are related impacts as well: retailers will likely now need to stock more box sizes (to reduce over-sizing), which carries inventory costs.
SO – someone has to pay for these increased costs. And ultimately you know who that is: you and me.
What is likely to happen is that costs will be increased throughout the system, for example:
– Shippers like FedEx incorporating package dimensions to increase fees (and UPS likely to follow)
– Retailers raising thresholds for free shipping (like Groupon)
– Retailers increasing prices in other ways (Amazon Prime going from $79 to $99)
– And plain old increased costs of merchandise to cover shipping
There will very likely be increased use of shipping as a promotional tool, but over time costs will inevitably need to increase. There’s just not enough profit in the system right now.
Until some equilibrium is reached, however, you may still notice overt signs of covering costs – – like $50 for a $2.50 order of screws (actual cart total – – and yes, it was abandoned). So keep your eye on the ‘shipping cost’ line for the time being.