During a recent salmon fishing trip to Sekiu, Washington, I was reminded how similar fishing and searching for buyers can be.
The 2012 Summer Olympics are officially over, but vivid images of amazing athletes competing for medals are still stuck in my brain in addition to my DVR. This got me thinking about the role competition plays in our lives. It starts early. Moms and dads compete to see that their kids get into the best preschool. Once we’re in school, we compete for grades. That’s often followed by competition to get into band, orchestra, cheer squad or sports. Later, we compete for jobs, promotions and raises. Neighbors compete for who drives the best car, has the greenest lawn or the smartest kids.
Has this ever happened to you? I signed up for a promotional newsletter from a cruise line and began receiving updated pricing and availabilities approximately every three weeks or so. A year later, I’m suddenly receiving an email a day and sometimes two! Seriously?
Let’s face it, as hard as we try, we all occasionally mess up. A product doesn’t get delivered on time, or it’s not the item that was ordered. At such times, it’s all too easy to lose a customer, or worse — have the issue blown all out of proportion in social media. I believe such incidents, if they’re handled right, offer an opportunity to actually gain an even stronger customer relationship, one that can result in very positive social media expression.
Unless you’ve been meditating on a mountain top in Tibet, you’ve heard about Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant included with the Apple iPhone 4S. Ask Siri to find a restaurant, make a call, or when your next appointment is, and she’ll respond appropriately. Recently, I’ve also had the opportunity to try out Kinect, the motion-sensing input device included with Microsoft’s Xbox console. Both Siri and Kinect offer user interfaces that are charming, intelligent and easy to use.
Everyone loves a good story. Which is why whenever we’re not launching new products, we try to feature our customers’ work in our advertising and public relations. It’s our belief that seeing and reading about what a customer has done with their Roland inkjet, vinyl cutter, engraver or milling machine is far more engrossing and believable than us tooting our own horn.
Back when I was in high school, our favorite burger joint advertised its secret sauce. Whatever it was made from, it gave their burgers a decidedly different taste than other hamburgers. Today, marketers often talk about successful brands having a “secret sauce” – and they’re not talking about fast food. For Apple, their secret sauce is not only inventing groundbreaking products, but packaging them in a way that is simplistic to the point of seeming obvious. As Jonathan Ive, Apple chief designer says, “It feels almost inevitable.”