Branding

What to believe about SEO in 2018 and beyond?

Search Engine Optimizers (#SEO) and Search Engine Marketers (#SEM)  like to throw around industry jargon. Ever feel like they are trying to make your head spin? Penguin, Panda, Possum, Hawk, these are names used for Google updates. Latent Semantic Indexing, Quality Score algorithms, schema, canonical, sitemaps, snippets, etc. It sure is easy to lose track of what really matters.

It is no surprise, we get a lot of questions about SEO. People ask us if something truly influences rankings after some SEO specializing in FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) gets them worried. Large companies often have skilled SEO practitioners in-house but SMBs usually don’t.

We are not SEO practitioners. Jeffrey and I have always tried to optimize for the end searcher (relevance) not the search engine spiders. After all, search engine spiders don’t have credit cards. Our focus remains primarily on conversion rate optimization (#CRO) and customer experience since the late 1990s.

A few weeks ago I presented at my first search conference in several years, SMX Milan. The topic of relevance is again top of mind.

What do we know about relevance?  A few years ago Ping Jen, the head of Bing’s Quality Score team asked me to explain relevance to his team on a webinar. Google has also been a client, we helped their own SMB Adwords team to optimize what they do.

A new era in search engine history

Google has been working their way through the hierarchy of optimization since their founding in 1998. Any optimization hierarchy must prioritize visitors’ needs as they approach your site or Google you. You must do the same prioritization of your sales/ conversion goals:

I am going to keep this explanation as simple as possible.

Google made search Functional

Before Google, the search engine space was a mess. You would have to look through pages and pages of garbage results to find anything remotely relevant. Google launched with their PageRank algorithm that ranked results based on the links flowing to and from the page. That signal was used to make search engines truly functional for organizing the world’s information. It didn’t take long for SEO’s to start finding ways to game those results. Yet Google continued to enhance and optimize their algorithm.

Search becomes Accessible to the masses

As news of Google’s search quality spread more and more people started to use the search engine making content that was invisible previously more accessible. Google also wanted to index content that was largely unreachable and unreadable. Over time they enhanced their spiders to access different types of content (dynamic content, video, PDFs, scripts, etc.). Today you can use software like DeepCrawl to audit your site. That will determine what technical issues may be holding back your rankings.

Making 10 blue links more Usable

By the year 2000, Adwords launched and Google found a way to monetize the incredible value delivered to the public. Many of the signals they used to rank Adwords ads with their Quality Score algorithm evolved to be similar to those used to rank their SEO rankings. However, as Google kept on diving deeper into their results, they realized that 10 blue links were not a truly usable experience. So to enhance their usability, they added smarter widgets to their results pages.

The era of Intuitive search

By 2010, Google was already working on personalized search ranking. This is where the results based on personalization factors related to the individual. This was in an effort to make results more intuitive for the individual. Last time I checked, the largest set of Column Families in Google’s BigTable are related to Personalized Search (93 columns) versus only 18 column families for website crawling information. That is nearly 5x the amount of data used to personalize the experience.

Of course, you can see a similar pattern of optimization in the way Google leveraged their paid search Quality Score algorithm. When Adwords first launched it was whoever paid most, got ranked highest. By 2005, they realized this wasn’t the best experience for searchers so they added in Quality Score as a factor and it was initially based on click-through rate of the ads. How many searchers saw your ad and clicked on it? By 2007, they made Quality Score smarter by incorporating searchers behavior on Google’s own search engine results page. Did the user click and bounce right back to the result (assuming the ad was not of great quality)? Did the user come back and refine their query. Over the next few years they kept adding more and more searcher behavior signals. They had data from all the websites using Google Analytics, Android, and Chrome to leverage as additional “online” signals. They would know how your site performed for others based on all those signals and could rank it in organic and paid search based on those user experience signals. Over the last few years, they have encouraged “customers” to share and upload offline conversion data, and other data sources as well, to close the loop.

Search Intent and Persuasiveness go hand and hand

Former CEO of Google Eric Schmidt said that Google needs to replicate results from the real world. Basically indicating that links alone are not a great ranking signal because they can be gamed online.  Over the last few years, searcher behavior has evolved dramatically. We are now seeing more mobile and voice searches. Searches need to be more contextual and intuitive. Today we are finally seeing the next era of search results as Google enters the Persuasive phase of optimization. Recent reports from Wordstream and SEMRush confirm it.

These reports were so controversial, that they shocked the groups studying them. Wordstream who services over a million PPC advertisers and SEMrush, which is a must-have tool for search marketers, were actually surprised by their findings. They were trying to correlate what factors lead to higher rankings in the search engines. You should read the latest search engine ranking reports from SEMrush and Wordstream.

  “What we are seeing here is that people with stronger brand affinity have higher conversion rates than people without any, because people tend to buy from the companies they already heard of and begun to trust.” – Larry KimWordStream

“Direct visits are fueled by your brand awareness, so building a strong brand image should be an essential part of your promotion strategy.” – SEMrush, page 42 of 55

Amazon optimized retail product search before Google did. They focused early on how to leverage the “user” data and all their purchase history to bring them a better product search result than Google would. They have been focused on this for years.

This is why over 55% of retail product searches start on Amazon today. And they captured 55% percent of Black Friday online sales. You too can be like Amazon, even if you are a lemonade stand. All you have to do is consistently deliver the experience your customer wants.

SEO is simple if you understand the cognitive science behind it

If you recognize that what the SEMrush and WordStream reports mean by “strong brand image” and “affinity” means the same thing as “Reputation” and includes being “Remarkable” today,  that we have used to explain the 5 Rs of SEO for many years.

The 5 Rs of SEO are:  (1) Relevant, (2) build your Reputation, (3) Remarkable, (4) Readable, and (5) of sufficient Reach.

How search engines try to enhance Relevance:

Providing relevance to the individual is the #1 priority to the search engines. After all, they want to deliver a consistently excellent customer experience to searchers. If searchers are unhappy, traffic drops and  then advertiser revenues will fall.

Want some deep insights into Google’s Quality score calculations so that your ads show up higher and you pay a lower cost per click?

“Google has tons of additional data to help them decide which ad is most likely to elicit a click from that particular user based on the time of day, previous searches and many other factors. It’s a “Big Data” prediction algorithm and advertisers would do well to apply some of these same methodologies for picking successful ads to ensure users get value from their ads, Google is kept happy, and more sales are generated.” ~ Frederick Vallaeys, Co-founder Optymyzr Former Adwords Evangelist at Google

Google claims that they use over 200 different signals for their ranking factors. I don’t doubt that, do you? I took the liberty, with Frederick’s permission to bold a couple of phrases in his quote that highlight the secret to great rankings. What he is talking about is massive personalization and leveraging multiple data sets and signals in real time to deliver what Google thinks will be the best results.

Google’s Big Dataset

Google is now using more of their Chrome browser, Google Analytics, scanning Gmail and Android (location and app) data augmented with 3rd party purchase data. Purchase data is unconfirmed but we know Facebook uses that kind of data. These are becoming their primary factors because those factors cannot be gamed by SEOs. They provide a much better picture of what people do in the real world.

I encourage you to step back and think much bigger and more broadly about Big Data before taking an SEO’s advice about rankings to heart. While there are many great SEOs out there, many have not evolved since the early days of keyword stuffing and meta tags. They also count on you not keeping up with all the constant optimization tweaks Google does to their algorithms to keep you in FUD.

One of our clients, a $50+ million traditional retailer, recently realized that the agency they used for SEO were ripping them off. Martin MacDonald wrote about that time in My Secret SEO Strategy Guarantees Results… To summarize, he concluded that “If your business model requires that you hide techniques you are using to achieve results, you’re not selling SEO services, you’re selling snake-oil.”

Here is what you need to stay on top of the game:

What do you think Google knows about you from all the signals you might provide it based on your search query, map queries, click-through, Gmail account and other factors? If you think about all the types of datasets you can get access to when want to target ads on Facebook, do you think Google might have access to some of those or similar data sets? There is a lot of data available. I recommend you follow the links I’ve provided and familiarize yourself with offerings from Data.WorldEnigma & Acxiom. What kind of data sources would you want to use if you were Google to deliver the best most relevant results for your searching customers?

What is Readable for a search engine?

This is one area the search engines have excelled in over the last number of years. They can now index and rank all kinds of content they could not do in the early days. In fact, they are even coming a long way in computer image recognition as well. There are still ways a good SEO can enhance complicated websites.

 What traffic will you Reach?

You know those scammy SEO offers you get to rank #1 for a keyword. It is very similar to those “best selling” authors who pick a new category on Amazon and dump 20 sales through in a 3 minute period to be the best selling book of an obscure category for a moment in time. You do not need to rank #1 for keywords that no one is looking for!

Brand Reputation and being Remarkable is where it is at today & for the Future.

As Roy Williams wrote about the report’s results:

 SEMrush was one of the big names in online marketing who concluded that “direct website visits” are the single most important factor in determining your SERP [Search Engine Results Page] position. In other words, they announced that Google is impressed – and will reward you with higher SERP placement – when people go directly to your web page instead of merely choosing your name from a list of search results.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? Google is effectively saying, “If this is the company people think of immediately – and feel best about – in this category, then they must be the category leader.”

It seems the key is building awareness for your brand online and offline so that when they go to their browser they type in your URL. This can be done with a combination of great advertising, strong public relations, remarkable social media and an exceptional customer experience.

Advertising is a tax we pay for not being remarkable.

Many people reading the ranking reports will make the decision that they need to ramp up their advertising to type in their website directly. However. if all those people do is find a less than remarkable experience then the signals the search engines receive are that you are less than remarkable. Sorry, advertising only accelerate the inevitable.

Win the SEO game and earn the love of customers

The type of company that is going to win at the top of the search engines is one that drives a lot of people directly to their website because the search engine is detecting all these relevant signals:

  • People typing in “yourdomain.com” directly into the address bar
  • They’ll get there because they either heard of you from one of your offline ads or…
  • They heard and have seen great reviews and shares on social media about your business or…
  • Because you built such a remarkable customer experience that they heard about you from other people.
  • People share their experience with your brand through PR, review sites and social media.
  • People engage a whole bunch with your website and your email marketing.

We hope you will you be creating the types of experiences that enhance or detract from your being remarkable and enjoying a great reputation in the eyes of the search engines and your customers. Your customers do have credit cards, you know?

So if you are looking to get great results in 2018 and beyond, focus on building a great brand experience. Remember Be Like Amazon: a lemonade stand can do it.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.

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The Red Screw & the Four Pillars of Amazon Success

This week we talk about the incredible business impact of a red screw.

Hopefully, you will find ways to apply Amazon’s Four Pillars of Success to your business and accelerate your business model’s flywheel. Check out the flywheel in  Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It.

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Wal-Mart’s Problem Isn’t Just E-commerce

tunnel-vision-1500x1000Sam Walton said “You can make a lot of mistakes and still recover if you run an efficient operation. Or you can be brilliant and still go out of business if you’re too inefficient.” Price, selection, and convenience were good enough to destroy their competitors. Wal-Mart focused on logistics and SKUs, not individual customers.

Sam Walton changed the retail landscape of his time. He expressed a clear narrative about operational excellence and efficiency. Wal-Mart would always offer customers a larger in-stock selection at the best prices. It was the right solution to the challenges he faced. It isn’t now.

Wal-Mart jumps on the e-commerce Jet

According to recent data from eMarketer, Walmart is the second largest U.S. online retailer.  While that is about $13 billion in sales last year,  it is well below Amazon’s $82.8 billion. Walmart’s digital growth lags behind the economy-wide rate of 15.1% in the first quarter.  E-commerce accounts for about 3% of Walmart sales.  Compare that to approximately 8% of all retail sales.

Wal-Mart‘s uber-expensive acquihire of Jet.com should improve their e-commerce team. Especially since Marc Lore (Jet.com’s founder) will now be president and chief executive of e-commerce at Walmart.

Wal-Mart misdiagnoses the challenge

Brick and mortar stores everywhere are closing. Many blame it on Amazon and other e-commerce players. The sad truth is that the small percentage of digital sales aren’t the problem. What ails retailers is the lackluster efforts to enhance the customer experience . The connected buyer journey is evolving. Customers expect to buy things where they want it. They expect to buy things how they want it and when they want it. They expect to engage with the brand irrespective of the channel and/ or device. And most of all they expect to have a great experience all along the way. And you can’t do that without stitching it all together with digital.

Wal-Mart, retailers in general, need a cultural change. 

Digital is not just a series of new shiny objects, cost cutting tools or new media ads. Digital should be the glue that connects every part of the organization with customers. Digital should allow every part of the organization to analyze data, learn from it, and act on it. They must put the customer, NOT the SKU, at the center of their universe.

Wal-Mart needs to focus the whole organization on the entire customer experience. They need to improve the interactions customers have at every touchpoint. Then they need to convey that change in narrative to everyone from the boardroom to the stockroom.

Improving e-commerce is relatively easy. Cultural change is hard. Marc Lore may do wonders for Wal-Mart’s ecommerce channel. What he won’t do is transform Wal-Mart’s retail culture. Wal-Mart still doesn’t think it has anything but an e-commerce problem.

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Amazon’s Amazing 74% Conversion Rate – #CRO #CX #UX

amazon.001

The top 25% of online retailers convert at 5.31% and the top 10% of online retailers convert at 11.45%.

Amazon Prime members convert 74% of the time on Amazon.com. That is according to a 2015 study from Millward Brown Digital. Compare that to 13% for non-prime members.

Amazon’s user interface isn’t 22x better than average. Amazon’s copy isn’t 22x better than average. Amazon’s design isn’t 22x better than average. Amazon’s prices aren’t 22x better than average. Amazon isn’t average and it doesn’t think about average conversion rates or average customers. Amazon’s stated goal is to be “the most customer-centric company on earth.”

This fits with how we define conversion rate. “Conversion rates are a measure of your ability to persuade visitors to take the action you want them to take. They’re a reflection of your effectiveness at satisfying customers. For you to achieve your goals, visitors must first achieve theirs.” We first wrote that in 2001 and it continues to be true.

The story you need to get right is not the story you tell you customers; that’s just promotion. Fix the story from the point of view of your customers. Because your brand isn’t what you say it is but what your customers say it is.

Amazon’s brand is demonstrably strong with their Prime Members.

You too can convert more. Try creating Buyer Legends for your brand in order to create a better customer experience.  If you need help,  please let us know.

 

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Heroes Don’t Play It Safe: A Customer-Centric Case Study

Timberland_Stewart_Whitney

Stewart Whitney, Brand President of Timberland

What is the difference between foolhardy and courageous? It’s like the difference between arrogance and confidence; it’s all in the results. Stewart Whitney, Brand President of Timberland, is both courageous and confident. After all, who dares to cut products, eliminate a discount pricing strategy and raise prices across an entire product line when growth is the goal?

Timberland announces a change

Timberland’s management shakeup didn’t seem extraordinary or even unusual. When Patrik Frisk, the new Coalition President of Outdoor Americas for VF (NYSE: VFC), said “To empower the significant growth ahead for the Timberland® brand, we need to connect with our end consumer from head to toe,” it sounded an awful lot like the same old same old.  Appointing Stewart Whitney Brand President was part of the plan to grow revenues by $1.4 billion during the next five years. Timberland’s management expected total revenues to reach $3.1 billion by the end of 2019, representing growth of 13% per year.

The Timberland® brand, a wholly owned subsidiary of VF Corporation, is best known for it’s rugged and fashionable high top yellow leather boots. It was a successful and long established footwear and apparel company whose sales were spectacularly flat.  When Whitney took the helm he might have tried to lift sales by deploying as many non-boat rocking tactics as possible.  Instead, Whitney decided to blow up the brand, to cut products, eliminate a discount pricing strategy and raise prices across an entire product line.

Things are going to change around here

No department was untouched. Timberland’s product designers were ejected from their comfort zone and asked to create new ambitious product lines and styles. Marketing was tasked with revamping the company’s entire global marketing and messaging.  The wholesale division had to sell jittery retailers on a leaner product line with dramatically less SKUs.  Retail and ecommerce eliminated their discount pricing strategy essentially raising prices across the entire product line. Whitney was tilting full speed ahead, at the risk of becoming either a business legend or becoming an exemplary failure.

In our work we often see how difficult the smallest change can be to execute, but Whitney was making deep foundational changes to a brand that didn’t seem broken to most observers inside and outside the company.

Whitney, no doubt, had to contend with the guardians of the company’s status quo. Surely they came out in full force challenging every move, trumpeting the company’s past successes and provoking insomnia and hand wringing amongst their colleagues.  He communicated with the board of directors, the executive team, employees, partners, distributors and retailers about his vision. You may imagine some calling him a maverick, while others called him nuts.

Courage and confidence are fueled by data

It wasn’t just Whitney’s courage that fueled the brand makeover, it was data.  While you could point to any of the changes he was driving as radical, the most significant change Whitney made was to steer Timberland away from being a product-driven company and towards becoming a data-driven company.

Whitney bet the company on it’s customer data and with Timberland posting a 15% increase in year over year sales in 2014, the bet seems to be paying off.  In the Washington Post Sarah Halzack writes about the origin of this success:

“…the cornerstone of the comeback has been a two-year customer study in which it collected data from 18,000 people across eight countries. In analyzing the trove of responses, Timberland was able to diagnose its problems and to zero in on its ideal customer — an urban dweller with a casual interest in the outdoors.”

What is just as remarkable as Whitney’s courage to lead foundational change in an already good organization was his commitment to understanding customer data rather than simply collecting and referencing it.  Far too often execs and marketers cherry pick the data that reinforces their own self-inflicted perspective. Other companies collect data, yet as we wrote about in Tesco’s case , a myopic reading of the data leads to disastrous corporate decisions. Whitney and his team read the customer’s story in the data.  And armed with that narrative he is transforming Timberland from a good brand to more exciting and relevant one.

Armed with a customer-centric narrative

The narrative started with their ideal customer. They named her the “outdoor lifestyler’:

“They’re definitely connected to the outdoors, but in a more casual, everyday way,” Davey said. “They care about the outdoors, but they also care about style. It was really important to them to look right for the occasion.”

The outdoor lifestyler, in other words, is a city dweller who goes for a casual afternoon hike or someone who leaves her house in the morning not knowing if she’s going to spend her afternoon at the park or at the movies. It’s someone who wants versatile clothes that blend in rather than stand out.”

Speaking to outdoor lifestylers would be a sizable departure from their current brand image. In the U.S. Timberland had developed hip-hop cred with rappers by naming the yellow boot “Timbs”.  While in other countries Timberland’s reputation was focused mostly on durability. Abandoning these messages probably looked like a tremendous risk. I’m sure the marketers pointed that out. It was that messaging that kept the lights on yet maintained their current, albeit flat, sales.

Raising prices to save the brand?

Timberland killed their discount pricing model:

Ryan Shadrin, vice president of retail and digital commerce for North America, said it was a scary decision to make but one that has ultimately helped profit margins. At first, Shadrin said, “It’s almost like dead tide. There’s just a point of this eerie quiet where you’re like, ‘Where did everybody go?’ It’s because they’re sort of waiting,” he said, to pounce on a promotion.

Eventually though, shoppers came off the wall when they realized the old promotional cadence was not coming back.

All the changes at Timberland, Shadrin said, “lifted the brand to where we can command those higher prices. The consumer is willing to pay it.”

The result is that profit margin is up 13%.

Results determine the difference between foolhardy and courageous

In business there is a big difference between knowing the right thing to do, and doing the right thing. Doing the right thing always takes courage but knowing the right thing to do requires that you understand your customers.  And the more committed you become to understanding your customer and focusing your company on delighting them the less actual courage you will need. That is the point where confidence replaces arrogance.

A legendary company must be customer-centered, practice data-driven customer experience design, and  manage by narrative. That is exactly what the Buyer Legends process  is designed to do.

So basic that it seems radical  

So why don’t more companies actually put their customers first?  We all know why. However, lets applaud the ones who do. We encourage you to read the entire Washington Post story to appreciate just how comprehensive the Timberland makeover was. Nevertheless, this strikes to the heart of why Whitney has been successful:

Timberland “could’ve followed the many brands that floundered in this changing retail environment, but if you look at all of their strategies holistically, they’re all developed with a steadfast focus on the consumer and innovation,” said Shilpa Rosenberry, senior director of consumer strategy and innovation at Daymon, a retail consultancy.

Timberland’s switch to a consumer-data-driven approach reflects a broader change in an industry where the power dynamics between retailer and customer have shifted to favor the shopper. Unprecedented access to pricing information and product reviews on the Web has made for smarter, more-informed buyers, and retailers are more focused than ever on catering to their high expectations. By letting consumers lead the way, Timberland has rebooted its brand.

Become the hero by turning your customer into the hero of your Buyer Legend

Stewart Whitney is a real-life business hero and not just because he virtually put his vital parts on a chopping block. Whitney is a hero because of his radical fairy-godfather-like commitment to delivering what his customers really want. That’s a winning combo, and one that makes for a happy ending to this story.

Do you have the courage and confidence to be this committed to your customers?

We hope you do.

We will be cheering for you.

And if you want assistance we, the Buyer Legends team, are ready to help you design and optimize a customer-centered, data-driven customer experience that is supported by narrative.

 

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Real Brand Storytelling: Mitch Joel Interviews Bryan Eisenberg for the Twist Image Podcast

spos_lowres_rgbWelcome to episode #446 of Six Pixels Of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast. I have known Bryan Eisenberg forever. Back when I first started publishing music  magazines on the Internet (in the mid-nineties), there were few people writing about the power of the Internet from a business and marketing perspective. There were message boards and email lists… and that’s where I first started reading the work of Bryan. Now, Bryan Eisenberg is the co-author (along with his brother, Jeffrey Eisenberg) of the bestselling books, Call to Action, Waiting For Your Cat to Bark? and Always Be Testing. We have also shared the stage on numerous occasions, because Bryan is a professional marketing keynote speaker as well. He’s done much than that. He is also the co-founder of the Web Analytics Association (now the Digital Analytics Association), serves as an advisory board member of Search Engine Strategies, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summitand several venture capital backed startup companies (like Bazaarvoice, Monetate,Nomi, TagMan, and more). Most recently, he launched a new startup called,IdealSpot, and a fascinating new book called, Buyer Legends – The Executive Storyteller’s Guide. Enjoy the conversation…

Here it is: Six Pixels Of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast – Episode #446 – Host: Mitch Joel.

  • Running time: 46:59.
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Can Marketers Keep Their Promises To Customers?

brand_storyIf I promised to give you $10,000 as a gift and then only gave you $5,000 you’d be disappointed. Don’t bother to deny it. Once an expectation has been set anything that falls short of that expectation is disappointing.

Good marketers are paid to attract prospective customers. When attracting those prospective customers, promises are made both implicitly and explicitly. The stories marketers tell prospective customers set their expectations.

And great marketers tell great stories.

There is so much excellent content about storytelling, it’s no wonder that marketers are now telling better stories.

Since you’ll ask, here are two examples:

No doubt, marketers are telling better stories.

But will businesses keep the promises marketers are making?

The facts suggest that most businesses don’t deliver great customer experiences. That unintentionally turns great marketers into liars.

Virtually all of the senior marketers I know are uncomfortable with this situation. Of course, many of them are not in charge of the entire experience but all of them have influence over the customer experience. At the very least they are responsible for the portion of the customer journey that they control.

Flipping the perspective helps marketing strategy become more integral to the business strategy.

So what happens when a marketer takes the perspective of the customer and describes the actual customer journey as a story the entire team can share? I cannot predict how it will work at every company but I do have years of experience watching marketers do just that with Buyer Legends.

I’ve seen three outcomes from writing the customer journey narrative:

  1. Expected CaseThe narrative starts to influence the details marketers can control and optimize. Subsequently, the results gain attention for the technique and it begins to influence other areas of the company.
  2. Best Case – The effort originates in the C-Suite or, as part of the expected case, the narrative makes it way into strategic planning and permeates how the business thinks about customers and their experience.
  3. Worst Case – The marketer realizes that the gap between the brand promise and what the business delivers is too wide and looks for another job where she can maintain her integrity.

In every case it’s a thoroughly worthwhile investment of just a few hours. That is why we wrote Buyer Legends, so that any marketer can get started with storytelling in under two hours. Yes – two hours – which includes reading the book.

Would a Buyer Legend help your company sell more and delight more customers?

You won’t know unless you try.

Please keep in mind that Buyer Legends are not the stories your business tells your customers; that’s promotion. Buyer Legends are stories told from the point of view of your customers; because your brand isn’t what you say it is but what your customers say it is. Buyer Legends are designed to create and improve the interactions your customers have with every touchpoint of your brand.

Try it out, because a great brand today is customer-centric, data-driven and managed by narrative.

 

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True Buyer Legends: How Steve Jobs Created Apple’s Legendary Brand

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmwXdGm89Tk

You don’t have to be an Apple fan-boy to understand or appreciate the mojo of Apple’s brand story. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 it’s brand story was tribal, but anemic and small. Jobs needed to take that tribalism in his small base of customers and expand it beyond the PC vs. Mac war , a war that Apple was losing. As a result the “Think Different” campaign was born.

So instead of telling a story about the company, a product, or even a philosophy, Jobs decided to tell a story about Mac users by placing them in the same category as some of the worlds movers and shakers like Einstein, Dylan, Lennon, Earhart, etc…

Steve jobs created a Brand Legend where the hero of the story were his customers.

hero of the buyer journey

In an internal meeting introducing this campaign to Apple Jobs describes the ad:

“It honors those people who have changed the world. Some of them are alive, some of them are not. But the ones that aren’t, as you’ll see, we know that if they ever used a computer it would have been a Mac.”

Fast forward 17 years, and a market valuation that now exceeds Microsoft, we can see that the Apple brand story is still the same. Here is the video they featured at their introduction of the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch.

The most powerful brand stories are not about the brand, they are about the customers. What is your brand story about?

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2015 Planning: The Must Have Strategy Doc Most Marketers Are Missing [Published on LinkedIn]

brandsMarketers are busy getting their plans together for 2015. If the study, that came out of the CMO Club Summit in New York last March, is any indication of what marketers are considering as challenges to their business campaigns, then they need to add a new strategy document to their 2015 planning.

A few of the key challenges they listed were:

  1. Delivering a positive customer experience throughout the research, discovery, and purchase journey.
  2. Creating client or customer-centric content
  3. Keeping content flow constant
  4. Measuring the effectiveness of content
  5. Managing data and identifying how to leverage it effectively
  6. Maximizing omni-channel marketing with limited talent and training resources
  7. Reinvigorated an already well-known brand

…..

Please continue reading the full post on LinkedIn.

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A Question About Delivering Great Customer Experience

A Harris Interactive study finds that as many as 86% of customers leave due to bad customer service.

A RightNow Technologies study finds that as many as 73% of customers leave due to bad customer service.

The Rockefeller Corporation study finds that 68% of customers leave because they believe that companies don’t care about them.

When Bain & Company recently surveyed 362 firms, they found that 80% believe that they deliver a “superior experience” to customers. But when they asked customers, they report that only 8% are really delivering.

 Now take a look at this:

Customer experience clearly matters!

Now, let’s be generous and give those 80% of executives the benefit of the doubt. They probably sincerely believe that their companies are customer-centric.

So here’s my question; do you think that if those executives read a Buyer Legend that narrated the customer experience for them anything would change?

Please stay positive and let me know what you think.

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What we can offer you

Four Pillars Ongoing Support

After our workshops, we work with only a few select clients. Your business must be committed to the Four Pillars (as described in Be Like Amazon) on a long-term basis .

Workshops

We kick-off the workshop with a two-day onsite visit. We help you create the Four Pillar foundation for your organization. The entire process takes between 4-8 weeks and the typical investment is $30,000 – $100,000.

Speak at Your Event

We can speak at your event. Our fees are $20,000 in North America, and that includes travel. International fees are $20,000 plus business class travel, from Austin, and lodging. Contact us to discuss your event