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posted by Will Weatherly May 11,2016 @ 04:28PM

A CliffsNotes on CX

In case you haven’t heard, it’s all the rage in the marketing world right now. In fact, just last night our local AMA Columbia chapter hosted an event dedicated to the topic. 

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Palmetto Health's Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Todd Miller discussing experiential marketing at the AMA Columbia meeting on May 10.

CX = Customer Experience

I suppose the abbreviation originated to play off its fancier-sounding cousin slash mentor-discipline in the tech world, UX (user experience), while cleverly facilitating a natural extension of the company C-Suite… the CEO, the CMO, and now the CXO.

CX began building noticeable buzz around 2011, the same year the CXPA was founded and the same year the world lost a man who had become synonymous with customer-centricity. In fact, it’s the very mantra of Jobs himself, and variations by other big business mavens like Musk and Bezos, that seem to have fueled the movement.

“Start with the customer.”

Over the past few years, CX has manifested through the formalizing and operationalizing of that creed by thought leaders whose backgrounds are often in customer service or the aforementiond design field of user experience or human-computer interaction -- both of course dealing with the needs of humans. 

Now, what’s all this got to do with marketing? Well, everything obviously.

A Tale of Three Paradigms

Marketing has changed. It’s not what it once was. It used to be a rehearsed monologue brands delivered from a stage loudly and clearly to target audiences with attention to spare. 

#1 - Always On 

But today, the marketing conversation is multi-channel and multi-directional. Social media, customer reviews, online influencers -- these force brands to keep on their toes every minute of every day. 

#2 - Smartketing

Data mining, lead scoring, and automation have fused sales and marketing, making mass-personalization and "funnels-of-one" the growing expectation of consumers as their relationships with brands become increasingly digital.

#3 - Template-ification

With brands and media channels now crowding the marketplace, it's harder than ever to get audience attention, and it's easier than ever to look and sound like every other brand out there. 

All About Intentionality

In my 2014 post, I mentioned that every touchpoint is an opportunity. CX is rooted in this idea, recognizing that in a crowded market and media landscape, some of the best differentiation with the greatest ROI happens during and immediately after the sale. Great customer experiences do not only drive loyalty, they also drive the kind of marketing long-known for being the most trusted in the marketplace -- word of mouth.

Using data, collaboration, and communication, the CX field is unifying traditionally siloed business sectors like sales, marketing, customer service, and operations to hone all possible consumer interactions into effortless, delightful, branded experiences. 

Baby Stepping Your Way To Great CX 

Baby Step #1 - Read The Effortless Experience or Outside In

Baby Step #2 - Consider whether your company is really, truly standing on a strong enough brand promise or distinctive point of difference.

Baby Step #3 - Get to know your customers' perceptions of and interactions with you -- persona interviews, surveys, and journey maps are the appropriate tools here.

Baby Step #4 - Identify the most critical touchpoints you have with your consumer.

Baby Step #5 - Carefully, conscientiously craft these touchpoints into memorable moments that accentuate your brand.  

posted by Julie Turner Jul 23,2015 @ 11:18AM

A Conversation About Market Research

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to question a handful of a client’s customers at length for a buyer persona research project. While every call was different, each one was a reminder of how many unique layers customers have.

I spoke to a handful of Happy Customers who were very satisfied with their experience and situation. They showered our client with well-earned appreciation and several offered suggestions for changes they’d like to see made by our client. I also reached out to Potential Customers, many of whom I found out viewed our client favorably but the timing for further interactions was not yet right.

I keep coming back to one market research call with a Potential Customer — one who may or may not become a customer in the long run. It turns out she’d had a handful of successful interactions over years with our client but just couldn’t seem to get across the threshold. As the interview went on I learned how she found out about our client, her impression of them and their service, and how she believed they could satisfy her future living needs. It was puzzling that after years this union had not come to fruition.

Then she explained why her interactions with our client had stalled. Her oldest child had been diagnosed with cancer and had battled the aggressive disease for the past two years. I could hear the pain in her voice as she told me the words no mother ever wants to say — that her child’s life had ended earlier in the spring.

Her words were a stark reminder to me about customers. With highly targeted CRM operations and our own well-defined advertising objectives and measures, it can be very easy to focus on the layer of a person’s life that directly involves us — or our message — so much so that we forget how much the other layers color the space we’re working in.

Taking the time to speak to not just customers, but people who have interacted maybe only once (or seemingly not at all) with your company can tell you so much about the market in which you’re working. It can also remind you of the many factors beyond competition that can come between you and potential customers.

posted by Julie Turner Jun 10,2015 @ 11:56AM

The Language of Emoji

Image by Ji Lee/NY TimesOne of the greatest things about Riggs Partners’ Account Manager Courtney Melendez is not her ability to save every dog on the planet (although she is trying). It’s not her role in the #porchpants revolution or her dashing husband, Mario.

Courtney speaks emoji. I mean complex thoughts and sentences that are entirely understandable and often quite funny. She is one of many people who have embraced the smiley world of emoji with two fist bumps and a raise the roof.

A Short History

Emoji — the 800+ array of emotive keyboard characters that pepper Facebook, texts, Instagram comments — are officially everywhere. Even in our closets.

While emoji have been doing their thing since the late 90s, they began to steamroll Paleozoic words and emoticons when they were introduced on iOS in 2011 and Android in 2013. The brainchild of Shigetaka Kurita, emoji began their crawl from the interwebs shortly following the After Dark Toaster Screensaver Era and enjoyed widespread use in Japanese mobile and texting before showing up in fonts such as Wingdings. Emoji became part of Unicode Standard in 2010 and, since then, have wormed their way into almost half of comments and captions on Instagram alone.

The Lord of Emoji Land

If you’re like me, you’ve never woken up in the middle of the night wondering why we have pizza and chicken leg emoji, but curiously lack a taco emoji. It’s because of the Unicode Consortium, a group that oversees how text is coded into computer-readable language.

In addition to announcing the 38 new emoji that’ll be coming in 2016, the UC recently overhauled the process of how new emoji are born. The new standards mean that Taco Bell’s marketing efforts may just land the planet the taco emoji we all deserve.

Poop or Chocolate Ice Cream?

Thanks to their visual nature, emoji can do what text cannot: show sentiment. Having a party? Perhaps the frosty beer mug or a hip swinging salsa dancer lady. Seeing too many snake photos on your Facebook timeline? Tap out a bug-eyed surprise face.

To find out what emoji use reveals, we can turn to the emerging science of emojiology. SwiftKey’s Emoji Report dug deep into their cloud vaults to analyze more than a billion emoji used by speakers of 16 languages around the world. Here are a few things they found:

  • The French use four times as many heart emoji than other languages, and it’s the only language for which a “smiley” is not #1
  • Americans lead for a random assortment of emoji and categories, including skulls, birthday cake, fire, tech, LGBT, meat and female-oriented emoji.
  • Around the world, traditional emoji faces are the most frequently used. Primary stalwarts happy faces and sad faces lead the pack but are closely followed by hearts, hand gesture and romantic emoji.

The Bottom Line

While all of this is as interesting and vital as, say, a VHS emoji, the report does reveal that emoji users in all languages tend to use more positive emoji (70%) than negative (15%).

How do I, who grew up without computers, cellphones and Internet, know that emoji have migrated from fad to a foundational means of communication? It’s not my friend Courtney, but my six- and ten-year-old sons.

Every now and again, these two people (who do not have smartphones or even phones for that matter) want to vicariously communicate via a mom-generated Facebook comment, text or Instagram. It’s not the words chosen or even the platform used that’s their greatest concern. It’s that mom gets the almighty emoji right.

Holy Home Alone cat emoji, Batman.

 

 

For more emoji fun, have a look-see at the Twitter emoji tracker. If you need to write a whitepaper, hotfoot it over to the emoji two-parter from Instagram, which is loaded with very smart actual information.

posted by Kelly Davis Jul 02,2014 @ 08:00AM

A Smashing Success: PR Case Study

For the past year and a half, several of us at Riggs Partners have immersed ourselves in the “better burger” fast casual segment of the restaurant industry. Through our work with two separate franchise owners, we’ve helped to open the first three South Carolina locations of Smashburger, one of the fastest growing restaurant chains in the nation. Smashburger’s corporate office in Denver places a strong emphasis on public relations with limited paid advertising supplementing the marketing effort.

Smashburger grand openings follow a formula established by their corporate marketing team. This tried and true plan has guided the company through more than 240 store openings in the US and several international markets. Our grand openings include four private events before the public opening: a “Friends and Family” preview event for the franchisees’ closest friends, associates and vendors; a media event for the “ceremonial first smash” with a local celebrity; a VIP event for local dignitaries; and an “Eat and Tweet” for local food bloggers and online influencers.

For each store opening, Smashburger’s franchise owners have partnered with a local charitable organization in their respective markets. In Columbia, the partner is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Columbia. In Charleston, the partner is the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Children’s Hospital Fund. Our clients don’t just want to write a check; they want to have a long-term, ongoing relationship with these organizations that make a meaningful impact on the lives of children. For each of the first store openings in the Columbia and Charleston markets, the respective franchise owners agreed to donate $1 per Smashburger or Smashchicken sandwich sold during their grand opening month to their charitable partner, with a minimum commitment of $5,000.

One traditional component of a Smashburger grand opening is the “celebrity smasher.” For both Columbia and Charleston, the charitable angle opened the door to a wonderful tie-in for the celebrity smashers. In Columbia, we invited two pairs of “Bigs” and “Littles” with Big Brothers Big Sisters to be our smashers. A Big Brother/Little Brother pair and a Big Sister/Little Sister pair served as our smashers, which was the first time that children had served as celebrity smashers at any Smashburger. In Charleston, we invited a 13 year-old girl with a very rare disease who has been treated at MUSC throughout her life. She smashed burgers alongside the Mayor of Summerville, who just so happened to have worked as a short order cook one summer as a teenager. It was fun to see them in the kitchen smashing the store’s first official burgers together.

 

Hayden, age 13, smashes the Summerville store's first burger. Hayden, age 13, smashes the Summerville store's first burger as her mother Cindy looks on.

Each of the grand openings has been a “smashing” success with terrific media coverage and a smoothly executed series of events that brought hundreds of guests through each store during their preview events. The two Columbia stores combined have raised more than $10,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters, while the Summerville store raised $8,147 for MUSC Children’s Hospital as a result of the overwhelming sales in its first month.

 

"Bigs" and "Littles" from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Columbia teamed up to smash the Irmo store's first official burgers. "Bigs" and "Littles" from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Columbia teamed up to smash the Irmo store's first official burgers.

Some of the lessons we’ve learned during these retail grand openings include:

  • Practice makes perfect. Have a “dress rehearsal” to iron out the kinks beforehand.
  • Get local. Find a charitable partner or some other community tie-in.
  • Focus on quality over quantity. Packing hundreds of guests into the restaurant may build curiosity from the outside, but we’d prefer that guests enjoy a leisurely paced meal and an overall great experience.
  • Make it fun. Be sure that guests aren’t just treated to free food, but also enjoy a festive atmosphere. We’ve hired balloon artists, ordered fun promotional items and given out coupons for repeat visits.
  • Build ambassadors. By pulling back the curtain into the store’s menu and operations, we’ve secured a great deal of goodwill for the restaurant and its owners.
  • Evaluate. Always take time to do a “post mortem” meeting during which you discuss what worked, what didn’t and how you can improve next time.

While Riggs Partners has developed a strong reputation through the years for our work in the nonprofit sector, we find just as much reward when we work with business owners who have a deeper sense of purpose – something that motivates them to develop and deliver upon a mission that may or may not be obvious to their customers. The next time you bite into that burger or slurp that shake, keep in mind that you just might be helping someone in need.

posted by Will Weatherly Jun 10,2014 @ 01:55PM

A Little Reassurance

The fear of regret is a powerful driver of indecision.

As such, marketing ends up spending a large portion of its time at the entryways to brand funnels, asking would-be passers-through to keep focused on potential up-sides instead of potential down-sides.

But the fear of regret continues well past the end of the funnel. “Did I really make the right choice?” With all the noise, opinions, opportunities, and options, it’s easy for consumers to doubt, and easier still for them to switch.

So, smart brands are finding ways to keep in touch. It can be anything. Most often, the more personal and permanent, the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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