3 REASONS YOUR SURVEY MIGHT NOT RETURN THE RESULTS YOU NEED AND HOW TO CORRECT THIS.

We all get online-surveys from time to time. Depending on the subject they take from two minutes to almost an hour.

If I like a brand, a product or a company I am always willing to support them and to give honest and fair feedback. But sometimes the survey is so annoying that I cannot be bothered completing it. Probably I am not alone with this symptom.

I guess there is a large percentage of people that start the survey but abort it after a very short time. From my point of view there are three key elements that should be taken into account if companies want their surveys to be completed.

What Is the Purpose of this Survey?

Typically, companies give you a more or less believable reason why they need your answer. If it is missing I will delete the e-mail straight away.

Only Ask Relevant Questions

If you are – like me – almost constantly online you cannot avoid feeding Google with a lot of records about your activities and also develop a sense of how much you want to reveal about yourself and your life. So you are careful with your answers.

I expect the questions to be relevant for purpose stated on the invitation e-mail. Recently I received a request form an e-learning platform which wanted to make sure that their suggestions are accurate to their audience’s preference.

Of course they want to know if I knew their competitors, if I studied at a University etc.

But why did they ask about my income? Of course there are many reasons this information might be of interest but not for the indicated purpose. Moreover, I thought that this is none of their business and closed the browser window.

Respect Time

“Take 3 minutes for our survey”. That’s fine and I open it. Just formulate the questions as clearly that 3 minutes will suffice to answer them. I observe quite frequently that you open the survey and find yourself confronted with 20 questions, each with 10 possible answers plus an “other reasons” field. Clearly, it will take more than three minutes with tests the users’ tolerance.

No doubt there are studies that require 45 minutes from you. If you signed up for them because after some weeks the company will share the results with you your time might be a very good investment.

If you have other aspects to be taken into account I am curious to learn about them.

HOW TO REVOLUTIONISE CORPORATE DESIGN AND STILL BE RECOGNISABLE.

“Harper’s Bazaar” was founded in 1867 as “Harper’s Bazar” (with only one A) and was the first magazine of its kind. As you already can see on the cover the mission was clear: “A repository of fashion. Pleasure and Instruction.”

The layout changed throughout the decades and somewhere in the late 1920ies or the very early 1930ies the second A appeared in the magazine’s name.

A New Face

In 1934 a young Russian by the name of Alexey Brodovitch was appointed the new art director. When he joined the company the “Harper’s Bazaar” was already a household name.

When a product is already known it is always a big risk to change the appearance since people could not recognize it anymore or – even worse – you lose your regular customers. Let’s see how Brodovitch dealt with this challenge:

Decluttering the Layout

There are some remarkable measures that made the entire magazine layout less busy and more generous looking. This was so unusual that the layouts became iconic.

The Cover

  1. A new, very sharp font was created for cover. It is the same font Harper’s Bazaar uses to this day. For the sake of perfection it was amended for a certain edition but the style was still the same.
  2. Brodovitch hired some of the best photographers for his covers
  3. The title was put as closed to the edge as only possible. This way he gained more room for the cover photo
  4. He reduced the amount of colours drastically and only worked with highlighters or he cropped the motive and put it on a white background.

The Articles

Brodovitch was the first one to use both pages for the layouts which made each of them attractive and unique as you can see on the image below.

Why Did It Work?

Personally, I believe that two main ingredients made this idea such a hit:

  1. Brodovitch was aware of his responsibility and knew of the value of the magazine. On the cover of the edition of October 1947 the name “Harper’s” is in ancient looking lettes that remind of a glamourous past
  2. He was bold enough to do something really innovative of top quality

If ever I should have such a flash of inspiration I’ll share it with you. I wish you an inspiring week.

 

2 THINGS TO CLOSE THE GAP BETWEEN CORPORATE DESIGN AND IDENTITY.

I elaborated on corporate design and on corporate identity before. This time I want to present you a real example that “happened” to me last week.

The Situation

By accident I discovered a job offer for a Head of E-Commerce of a marketing agency. Everything I could see about the corporate design was really amazing and very consistent. I was thrilled and of course highly interested. Since the job offer had been published some time ago I wanted to find out if the position was still available and called this agency. This company only has about 10 employees so I figured that people know what is going on.

Here is what happened:

  • The phone was answered by the person whose name was mentioned in the job ad. Before I could finish my phrase the gentlemen informed me that he was not in charge, did not know what was going on but I should call again since Mr X who knows about it was on the phone. Moreover, if I needed the information now I had to hurry up since Mr X was about to leave for his vacation.
  • Two hours later I called again and Mr X was somewhere else again. The first gentlemen suggested I called again but I decided to ask my two questions by e-mail.
  • I sent a structured e-mail and within two hours I received an information that did not answer my questions. As if you asked for the time and got the weather forecast.
  • I thanked him and informed him at the very same time that I decided not to apply.

Analysis

Corporate identity also includes behaviour.

  • If you are a professional you do not make someone call you again but ask the person if you can call back.
  • If your company only comprises 10 people you know when your name appears in a job offer or at least know about the job. Otherwise – and that is what the first gentleman’s tone suggested – you don’t give a damn.
  • If you receive an e-mail with two structured questions you answer accordingly. If not you either make it very clear that you are not interested in the questions at all or you make a fool of yourself. In the best case both.

Summary

Corporate design is a part – and only a part – of corporate identity. If you want your company to look professional – no matter how big or small your shop is – you need people that really engage in your business. Remember, after all we speak about YOUR brand.

So from my perspective they need two things:

  1. Training/information on rules, events and processes
  2. The feeling that they and their work matters to the company.

Do you have any other measures to close this gap? I am curious to hear about it.

INSIGHTS ON THE TIGHT BONDS BETWEEN ONLINE AND OFFLINE SHOPPING

E-Commerce has conquered and revolutionized the shopping world for businesses and consumers. Hardly a newsflash, I know.

But will e-commerce eventually make physical stores obsolete? No, never! Au contraire!

I already admitted that I was possibly born to shop. So of course and in spite of my preference for digitalisation I would not want to give up the “physical shopping feeling”. Not for all the e-shops on the planet.

But after reading and pondering quite a bit on this topic I can tell that there are more reasons than my egoism to stick with physical shops.

The pleasure of physical shopping

Let’s say you intend to buy a new car, exclusive jewellery, fashion or art.

Would you buy a car without at least one test drive? If you are not buying the driver as well I guess the answer will rather be no. Before you spend money on a ten thousand dollar diamond ring or on an artwork you must have seen this piece “life”. Right?

I think we have an accord that this cannot be done in an online-shop. But what if you liked the item you just tried but you cannot make the bold decision of buying it immediately? Of course you can take your time to think again before making such an investment and go back to the shop on another day. Still, we all have a life to get on with, a job that would not allow us to shop any time we want and we have to cut out time for shopping.

The comfort of e-commerce

This is where an online-shop comes in handy. You made up your mind that you want to buy the diamond ring that you tried. You know the size you need, are confident that it suits you and just want to have it as soon as possible. If so you open your browser and buy this item online during a coffee break.

How on- and offline shopping influence each other

Now we are getting to the reasons why e-commerce can be highly beneficial for a brand’s offline-store.

If you are shopping online you can compare offers and order the best one literally from your sofa which is very comfortable. The sellers on the other hand can easily gather data to what places which products are shipped.

Apparently, some online-shop owners set up an actual physical stores at places where they receive a lot of orders from. To me this sounds very logical since in this case these front stores are also a marketing instrument and brands know where there already existing offline stores can make more business. Not to forget that a physical store is a dangerous place for consumers since they could buy more than they actually needed or would have purchased online.

POST-SALES. MAKE OR BREAK YOUR SERVICE.

After phases one and two post-sales is the third and last phase of the process. Never underestimate its power.

Does not Work? This is the End

If you live in Switzerland (like me) or in Germany you often doubt if any of the shop owners understand what service really means.

Many of us bought things on- or offline that were not perfectly working or did not keep the vendor’s promises. And we all are familiar with the problems that occur in these cases. Many vendors try to make us believe that it is our own fold that thing broke or that we are simply inapt to handle it properly. This is typically the end of a harmonious consumer-seller-relationship. Some years ago I bought a very expensive shoe from a renowned shop. Two days later (I had worn them for maybe 2 hours) there was a problem with a buckle. I went back to the shop and the shop manager looked at me with a Medusa-like look telling me that it was not her fault. Well, I did not accuse her in the first place but just asked her to get it fixed because given the price I expected this to be a warranty case. I still like the brand but since this I always buy it in a different shop.

Some shops already understand that it is not the right way to deal with clients if you want them to come back and improved their process.

The Importance of Post-Sales

Again, I come back to Amazon since I experienced post-sales to be one of their strengths. I once ordered a physical book and the postman only delivered the empty package leaving me a message that he informed the police because the content had been stolen. I informed Amazon about this and almost instantly received an answer by e-mail telling me that they just sent the book again and apologized for the inconvenience. This makes me a returning client.

From my perspective the risk of buying the wrong size or not the right fit is even higher when one buys clothes online. So it must NOT be a problem to send it back within a certain period of time without being charged.

Summary

The most important thing to attract customers is the presales phase. However, if shops want returning clients that require a minimum effort in the pre-sales phase but enter the sales process straight away they better make sure their post-sales is impeccable.

As for me I buy books and other things online for simple convenience. But I enjoy the process of shopping too much to buy everything online. In other works I can shop for the sake of shopping coming home tired and with nothing more than a new nail varnish.

 

SALES. TIME TO MAKE A BOLD DECISION.

Last week I elaborated on Pre-sales, which is the first phase of consumer experience. Now it is time to make or spend some money.

Online versus Offline

Let’s say you are in a shop that really appeals to you, experienced a perfect service, fell in love with the product, maybe you are even offered a discount for your first purchase but still hesitate to charge your credit card with such a high amount. You are wavering if you can afford it but another voice tells you that you will regret it if you do not buy this item and on top of all you have to look into the vendors eyes if you turn the offer down. Yes, your ratio tells you that nothing obliges you to buy but subconsciously you feel bad about saying no.

Do you have the same issue with a web-shop? Probably not. It is crystal clear that you are a face-less visitor on a website that is “talking” to a machine.

Comparing these two scenarios it is pretty clear who is more likely to sell. We cannot help it but we are social beings (not all the same as I admit) and people are typically looking for other people.

E-Commerce Is Growing. Why?

Nevertheless, e-commerce is a growing market because it offers some unbeatable advantages: You can buy around the clock from where you want and get it delivered to where you need it. So it saves the most precious resource: time. And if you say “no” you simply close your browser.

In order to really sell a company needs to establish a strategy. To establish a successful one you must know your target clients and of course your products.

Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)

In my previous article I mentioned Amazon.com; a pure e-commerce business. I daresay that Amazon can basically serve everyone who has a credit card and an address things can be sent to. They were among the first ones who saw the power of e-commerce coming and in 1994 started marketing books electronically. I mean physical books. E-books came later. Meanwhile they can provide everything that goes as FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and even jewellery.

From what I can see their strategy is a combination of

  • A VERY user-friendly e-shop
  • Competitive prices
  • Fast delivery
  • Anonymous which means it is almost impossible to talk to a real person if you need an advice; service is expensive and we want it cost-efficient if we shop with them.  (We’ll discuss the post-sales later in the next article)

Diamonds and More.

The trend of e-commerce also has an impact on high-end brands.

Farfetch for instance is an e-commerce platform that offers designer cloths. You’ll find brands like Armani or Alexander McQueen there. Basically, it is a platform that offers an online-market place to independent boutiques of which quite some only survived thanks to e-commerce. Farfetch was founded in 2008 and is a smashing hit. The company who is headquartered in London state on their website to have 1000 employees world-wide and from other sources one learns that there sales in 2016 was about USD 800 Million.

A much older and very famous brand is Cartier. If you visit their website you will find an online shop. The – for Cartier’s measures – relatively moderately-priced items are sold by e-commerce, too.

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friends”, now they are delivered to your letterbox.

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing!

One thing is clear: in the e-commerce business marketing is a very important and maybe the largest cost factor. My favourite Cartier video must have cost a fortune and is worth every penny.

 

CONSUMER EXPERIENCE. HOW TO MAKE IT. HOW TO BREAK IT.

There is not one thing that makes customer experience but it consists of many different aspects. But I still would divide it in three different stages: Presales, Sales and Post-sales. The present post only deals with Phase 1.

Presales. No Second Chance for a First Impression

Typically, you enter a shop or visit a website because you are interested in a certain product. If you are like me – I was possibly born to shop – you may also visit a shop just because of its striking design or the way the goods are displayed. Or you linger on a website longer just because it is so well done that you are curious to discover everything on it. This is where branding and corporate identity kick in.

If you are in a real shop your exclusive customer experience finds its untimely end when you bump into a sales person that is not empathic, incompetent or even rude. The same goes for boring websites.

Websites Can Make or Break Your Sales

At the moment a lot of websites look the same: A large banner or video on the top, a navigation bar and a button that tells you to enter. And do not think that this is just for plain vanilla items. No, even high end products and services have really plain websites that – at least from my point of view – don’t do anything for a flourishing e-commerce. Of course the clients a company targets must be taken into account.

Amazon’s website  is – from an aesthetic point of view – not the height of sophistication. But it is extremely well organized and one can find things easily, although they sell hundreds of thousands articles. They are strong at selling and post-sales as we will find out later on.

A very renowned hotel group we all know has an online presence that is so plain and uneasy to navigate that one must really be determined to stay in no other place to really book a room. Maybe they can afford it but I decided not to be bothered with it.

High End Websites for High End Products. Have A Look.

Giampiero Bodino is a jeweller in Italy who creates very unique pieces. A look at his exclusive website proofs that there is nothing wrong with an “explore” button on the first page and it makes me believe that the consumer experience is really unparalleled and if I am prepared to really spend money on something special I’d receive something of truly high value.

If it comes to web presence my actual favourite is Jean-Paul Gaultier on whom I elaborated some weeks ago. Although one does not buy haute couture online I think this page would sell the Gaultier scents very easily and the reason they do not implement an online-shop might be linked to their sales strategy.

 

  

HOW I USE INSPIRATION TO REACH MY GOALS.

If you have been reading here for a while you already know that inspiration is one of my favourite topics.

Originally, I started blogging while running my own company where I used it to spread the news about my services. I soon noticed that I enjoyed all those marketing activities since I got a lot of inspirations out of them and the feedbacks from my readers showed that inspiration is contagious.

Some weeks ago I said that marketing required a plan and inspiration. The latter because nobody can predict when success will kick in. Just when I started writing the post you are now reading I stumbled over a very interesting article describing the way to success. I think most of us can relate to most of the 7 steps the author describes. To me number 4 is the most important one.

Do Not Doubt but Focus

I tend to have more than one project at the time and normally only talk to the people who can support me about it. I still could not figure out why but most people tell you – without thinking twice or having a single fact – that your idea will never work. I had a heads-up last week when I stupidly talked about my activities concerning one project.

Others will respond with meaningful phrases like “let’s hope for the best”. I think they really mean well but cannot believe for a moment that you could be successful.

Both statements tend to cloud our inspiration with doubts. Doubts tend to kill success and happiness.

How To Fight Doubts

When I talk of inspiration I do not mean to sit there and wait until something wonderful is happening. What I mean is to keep the vision, set the next goal, to plan and to work for them. Sometimes we have to re-focus – even on a different vision. But I do not believe that hope alone – although it is said to die last – is the right concept to get to where we want to be.

I would lie if I said that I never had doubts or that I never failed. Fortunately, I do have friends that really support me even if my ideas might seem farfetched. And in order to really focus I use inspirational quotes. There is nothing magical about them but they remind me to focus. I created wallpapers for my mobile phone that I happily share with you.

WHY YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION WHEN MARKETING LOOKS INEXPENSIVE.

There are many different ways one can use to promote their products. Which channel or strategy is the right one for you depends on your business and your audience.

But one advice goes for everybody: Be careful with everything that looks inexpensive at the first glance.

Google Ads

You may have heard of Google Ads and certainly have seen them many times. Let’s say you are searching for “branding strategy”. The top results are typically Ads. They are marked with “AD”.

This is how it works

You have to set a daily budget for your Google Ads and you pay something for every click on your ad. It is up to you to decide how much you want to spend for a click. To make the math easy we use 100 Swiss Francs per day as an example.

Let me share some of my own experience. I used to deliver project rescue services for IT projects and also project management.

Project rescue is not something people would search for very often while project management is highly in demand.

What happened to “project management”?

A lot of people search for this keyword every day. This means a lot of competitors for you. Since Google displays only a few ads per search the click on such an ad becomes very expensive. By expensive I mean something between 8 and 10 Swiss Francs per click if you want to make it among the top 3. If you pay less you receive less impressions which means less chances that someone clicks on your ad and looks at your website.

If you use a very exotic key word (like project rescue) the click was cheap if only someone would search for it.

You got it. If it is cheap it does not really help if it is expensive your budget of 100 Swiss Francs per day will have vanished after ten or twelve clicks. And this will probably not get you a conversion; meaning you haven’t sold a thing yet.

I am not saying it cannot work but you have to take a good look at it before you start. The same goes for Facebook or Twitter ads. You have to be sure that your clients are there, too. Salesforce cloud offers some valuable free information on digital marketing.

If you know a good professional on this topic talk to him or her.

Free Stuff

Connect your Blog

Links from other pages to your blog are quite useful for your ranking. For this reason I created a list that is free for you to download.

Put a spotlight on your brand

I offer ad space on my blog and I also tweet about you. For people who sign up for my newsletter I will advertise one week for free. Without any further obligations. The rest of the service remains as described here.

If you already receive my newsletter and want to profit from this service please contact me.

I have only one spot at the time. First-come, first-served. If you want the ad for a specific week just let me know.

MARKETING. WHY YOU NEED A PLAN AND INSPIRATION.

In the previous two posts we discussed branding. Now it is time for marketing.

Why marketing needs a budget

No matter what anyone says: marketing is an important and an expensive business. Always.

There are many free resources that do not require an investment in terms of money but certainly will cost you a lot of time.

So marketing has to be budgeted in one way or the other.

Show Your Competence by Blogging

You might want to use blogs to share information on actual projects or subjects related to your field. This is a good way to create valuable marketing content that you can share on social media platforms.

Most blogs are based on WordPress which is available as freeware and can be integrated in your website. Once set up it is quite easy to use and literally offers thousands of plugins that provide various functions.

And this is where it gets a bit complicated. To find the right tools and plugins requires A LOT of testing. From my own experience I can tell that the wrong plugin can prevent your blog from functioning.

In order to avoid this you have two options:

  1. You hire an expert to do the evaluation for you
  2. You get this e-book and check these 44 tools that really work. (Definitely the smaller investment)

Share Your Content on Social Media and Plan for It

The use of social media is free of charge but the amount of time it requires can be very high. In order to minimize your time and do maximize the outcome you need a social media plan. There are many questions to be answered.

The first one is the choice of your social media platform(s). To make the choice and the planning easier for you I created a free guide.

I can already tell you that a YouTube Channel is definitely on my list.

You Will Need Inspiration

Marketing is hard work and it often takes time until results show. Quite some time ago I created a comic about blogging.

The images are from an ancient photo album from an uncle’s attic.

Although I do not know the people it seems they are somehow related to me.

This Kindle book is free of charge as from February 3 until February 7, 2017. You can also read it on your PC; just install the Kindle app and enjoy.