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Monday, September 30, 2013

Does Your Business Need a Fire Horn?

Like many of you I live in a small town this is protected by a volunteer fire department.  Ours is well-trained, properly equipped, effective, and when the fire horn sounds they have a reputation for responding very quickly.  But despite that record, their operation is not above occasional controversy.  You see, residents who have had baby’s awoken in tears mid nap, and those who  feel that such a signal system is just too unsophisticated and old-fashioned, and those who have had their own needed sleep interrupted when the fire horn shrilled at 2 o’clock in the morning, , have questioned whether such sirens are really needed in an era of cellphones and pagers. 

What do you think?

Triggering the desired action

In his book Contagious, Wharton’s Jonah Berger discusses the triggers that stimulate conversation and cause word of mouth to be spread.  He uses examples like how many of us know what kind of car our next door neighbors drive compared to how many know what brand of toothpaste they use – and how that influences word of mouth and consideration.  He points to data demonstrating increased sales of Mars bar (the candy) being stimulated by a spike in news reports about NASA’s Pathfinder mission to Mars (the planet).  He further presents research regarding the influence of French music playing in a restaurant increasing the purchase of - you guessed it - French wines.


Finishing the job with Managed Evidence

We agree with Berger.  We are convinced that huge opportunities to generate awareness and purchase consideration are being missed as marketers as they fail to manage evidence about their products, services, company ethics, and their people.  We see too many brands assume that their customers understand their value and how they differ from their competition.  We see a failure of companies to prepare their loyal customers with the content and motivation to communicate about a brand.  We watch as opportunities to provide Conversation Catalysts fail to be funded while less cost-efficient efforts continue year in and year out.

What’s this got to do with your business?

But getting back to the original question, should the fire horns keep sounding?  As long as those same volunteer fire companies are going to need to raise funds from residents to continue their operations, the answer is obvious.  When that fund raising mailer arrives in local homes the fire department needs to trigger residents’ memories of the number of times they heard the fire signal and could roll over in their nice warm beds, while volunteers rushed out into the cold to save life and property.  Potential contributors must have be continually provided with evidence of calls answered, lives saved, hours of training, etc. – and not just at the time of the fundraising effort.


Brands that want to increase recommendations, generate more word of mouth, and win new customers need to create their own kind of fire horns and stream of managed evidence as well.

Brands that want to increase recommendations, generate more word of mouth, and win new customers need to create their own kind of fire horns and stream of managed evidence as well.

12:26 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

But What REALLY Differentiates Ritz-Carlton?

Discussions of managing the customer experience and achieving the highest levels of customer satisfaction often come down to brands like Ritz-Carlton.  Few would deny it’s a luxury brand providing the highest quality of amenities and service.  Further  we have all heard tales of their  empowerment of staff, charging each team member with taking responsibility to solve any  guest’s problem once they are encounter it, and the their focus on acting as “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen”.

That all sounds great, but surely that can be duplicated.  So we have to ask, what really sets them apart from other hotels and luxury service providers?  In an interview Ric Dragon conducted with

Allison Sitch, Vice President of Global Public relations for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company (Presented on SocialMediaToday on Sept. 3, 2013) we learn that the hotel chain views it strategy as a commitment to deepening the engagement with current guests.

Sitch stated “We're in the business of creating indelible memories that last a lifetime. It's not about heads-in-beds and fine linens." And because they want the guests to share those experiences beyond word of mouth they also provide social media tools.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they all have a role to play in sharing the experience.

Interesting to note: The goal isn’t aimed at getting a message to go viral.  It’s not a system to spiff loyal guests for recommending Ritz-Carlton to friends.  It’s not primarily about loyalty points.  It’s all about giving guests: 1) deeper engagement, 2) stories to share, 3) emotional ties, and then 4) providing tools to enable sharing.






9:48 pm edt          Comments

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