Category Archives: Advertising

Lexus – a beacon of customer centricity


The auto manufacturing industry will soon be under siege – impacts are already being felt with easy consumer access and convenience of services like Uber, better public transport, parking costs and restrictions in increasingly large cities around the globe and technological advances in communications propelling less commuting between home and work.

Traditionally auto dealers have focused on each transaction – just getting a sale – and not on nurturing the long term relationships with their customers that will make them lifetime brand loyalists.

Lexus is an exception. Nick Dieltiens, a customer centricity consultant based in Europe, tells us of his experiences when working with Lexus in Europe. First the mindset. It’s not about the “car”, its about the “customer’s journey”. This is illustrated by the fact that on the rare occasions when a Lexus broke down in the French Alps, Lexus arranged for a helicopter to be flown in to collect the stranded family and fly them to their destination.

Also, customer service people at Lexus in Europe are empowered to make the decision to take back a car if the customer is not entirely satisfied with the purchase. Nick tells the story of a senior Lexus executive taking back a car from a customer because the remote control would not connect to the customer’s garage door and the issue could not be fixed. So the executive purchased a Mercedes at a discounted price and provided it to his customer at that discounted price.

The next car the customer bought was a Lexus.

The customer culture in many Lexus dealerships in Europe is strong. Staff are trained to observe Lexus vehicles on the road. If one is see with a broken tail light, they would wave down the driver where safe to do so, give them their car, take the car to get the light fixed free of charge and return the car to the owner.

You may think this costs Lexus a lot of money. It may cost a little more in the short term, but it pays off in a big way with high customer loyalty in car servicing and repeat purchase.

The most important investment by Lexus is in building and retaining a customer culture! This will be essential for all auto companies if they want to grow their businesses in future.

How to communicate without saying a word

Communication is a massive part of any major change initiative. A leadership team’s ability to connect with employees at all levels with a clear powerful message is critical to success.

Some of the best lessons on communication come from the world of advertising. Agencies are charged with breaking through the noise to catch a customer’s attention and deliver a powerful, meaningful message.

The image at the top of this post does just that. It also helps illustrate some rules about communication that can help leaders be more powerful communicators.

First it uses a powerful simple visual that tells a story without saying a word. “How am I going to fit my car into that spot….without killing anyone!”

Second the text is simple, to the point and benefit driven – “Park assist technology from Volkswagen”.

The lesson for leaders trying to drive change is – use powerful visuals that represent and reinforce the changes you want to make in the organization.

Here is a great visual we developed for one of our client’s that wanted to implement the “5 whys” process as part of their customer focused culture change initiative.

Why is the “Why” upside down? Good question! I thought you’d never ask….

Why communicate with customers in print?

adidas ad

With the ever exploding options available to marketing professionals and the rise of “inbound marketing” why would you use a communication medium like print advertising anymore?

The simple answer is because that’s where your customers go to get information. While there has certainly been a dramatic shift in the type and sources of information available to customers, print remains a popular option in many markets. Trade and leisure magazines continue to have strong readership.

From a marketer’s point of view there are five main reasons to use print:

1. To announce a new product to the broadest audience in one of the most cost-effective ways

A new product’s biggest challenge is gaining awareness, if no one knows about you, you have little chance of success. The fastest way to do this is to yell from the rooftops in the places your customers frequent.

2. To leverage a special feature or editorial in a magazine

An editorial focused around an issue you can help customers solve is a great place to advertise, readers are looking for solutions and it offers you an opportunity to be in the right place at the right time.

3. To help you define your target market

By advertising in a general publication, you can analyze the response and identify pockets of opportunity you may not have suspected.

For example, suppose you’re advertising a new piece of software. You think it will mainly be used by large businesses, however when you advertise, you are surprised to find smaller businesses are responding as well.

4. To add credibility to your product

Print advertising also adds credibility to your product. The fact that you are seen in a well-known publication adds weight and authority to your advertising claims.

5. Print has impact

A clever print ad stops the customers and grabs attention. As you can see in the Adidas piece at the beginning of this post many of the best ads have a powerful visual component and sometimes no headline at all. This invites curiosity – what is this advert about?

Print media is still an important tool in the marketer’s toolbox. However the key question is how do your customers prefer to get information?

Customer communications that pack a punch

impacting customers emotionally

A core skill set of customer focused organizations is the ability to connect powerfully with customers using messages that cut through and speak to people at an emotional level.

One of the most challenging issues authorities have been trying to address in countries around the world is creating the “seatbelt” wearing habit.

In 2009, 33,ooo people died in car accidents in the US and more than 50% of those killed were not wearing seatbeats.

It’s an insidious problem with a massive pay-off. Can you image creating a message so powerful it saves people’s lives?

Creating communications that can change people’s behavior for their own good requires a deep understanding of the “customer” – in this case “car drivers”.

Governments usually take the legal enforcement route to influence drivers, that is, don’t wear a seatbelt and you will receive a fine. While this does provide a negative consequence it has proven not to be enough. What is needed is to connect wearing a seltbelt with a powerful emotional trigger or association. The ad below was recently shared with me by a friend – a great example of its viral effect. It connects with the viewer in one of the most powerful ways possible:

With more than 15 million views and without a single word this communication piece packs a powerful punch. It connects with the most compelling reason drivers have to look after their own safety – not for their own well being but for the security of their closest loved ones.

Are your communications connecting  powerfully with your customers?

How to measure awareness advertising

If customers don’t know you exist your chances of attracting them are the same as trying to teach an elephant to tap dance.

This is the first rule in marketing – make sure your potential customers are aware of who you are, what you stand for and how you can help solve their problems.

However it is much easier said than done. These days the media choices can be overwhelming, check out the image below that identifies the different social media options alone!

Social Media Map from Brian Solis and JESS3

Source: Brian Solis and JESS3

Add to this social media mix, the traditional media – TV, print, radio and billboards and you have some difficult decisions to make.

Where should I invest to generate maximum awareness for minimum cost? and How will I know whether these investments are paying off?

Deciphering the impact of advertising is notoriously difficult, there is a classic saying in advertising circles attributed to the father of advertising, John Wanamaker who said:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Awareness advertising is designed to widen the pool of potential customers and remind them of how you can help them. The goal is to position a company’s brand favorably and regularly in the customer’s mind.

The measurement challenge comes from the fact that it is not necessarily designed to elicit an immediate response. Regardless there are a few ways you can get a handle on the impact of this type of advertising:

1. Prospect Surveys Before and After Comparisons

This technique involves establishing a baseline and then comparing results against that baseline over time.

For example, a simple survey may highlight that 10% of prospects have heard of your brand and 15% may consider you as a potential supplier of the product. The consideration metric is an important one to include as we are not interested in awareness alone. We really want to know whether we are in the “evoked set” – the top 2 or 3 brands customers have as top of mind for any particular product category.

Asking these questions again in 3 months may reveal that now 25% of prospects have heard of your brand and 30% of them would consider you as a potential provider.

You can reasonably conclude that your advertising activities were a significant driver responsible for the increase.

2. Asking Customers at their Point of Inquiry

Many companies will ask a new customer how they heard of the company or product. This is a great technique for companies that get a lot of inbound calls, a quick question can be asked at the end of the call to which most customers are happy to respond.

To go a little deeper a survey can be conducted asking customers which specific media they remember seeing. Their answers won’t tell you whether the activity influenced their purchase, but it will tell you which of your awareness advertising activities are being noticed.

To understand the advertising’s influence, we can design questions to elicit feedback on the messages sent.

For example “which of the following ads have you seen?, which haven’t you seen?, rank each on a scale of 1 to 5 on whether it appealed to you or not.

Next total up the answers from all survey takers to give you a clear picture of how people perceive your advertising.

NOTE: Where ever possible please do some of this in pre-testing to make sure you are eliciting the response you want!

Using Video to drive better communication with your customers

Video has a lot of my mind-share right now, it is increasingly becoming a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes to provide insight and value to their customers. In fact depending on your objectives, video can be an enabling tool for just about any business goal.

A few powerful uses:

1. Interviewing customers – if you have great customers, why not interview them and ask them what they think about what you have done for them. Most customers are more than happy to share their positive experiences with others.

See some of our examples here

2. Interviewing thought leaders – are there people in your industry that are seen as thought leaders, innovators that everyone is interested in hearing their opinion? Would your customers be interested in hearing what they have to say?

Here is a great example of such an interview from David Garland’s site “Rise to the Top” for entrepreneurs. Here he interviews a well know thought leader in marketing, Seth Godin

3. Telling stories/documenting case studies

Why video? It is a medium we are all very familiar with, it allows us to really get a sense of the full spectrum of human communication in a setting we are used to.

We can see and hear a person communicate almost as thought they are sitting right in-front of us.

David Boyll, the Director of Digital Media Technology for Oracle Corporation, recently shared some other facts about the value of this medium:

“Conversion: Internet Retailer reports that found that viewers who chose to view video converted at a 400% increase over those who did not.

“According to Forrester, video stands about a 50 times better chance of appearing on the first page of results than any given text page.”

Thanks to Brightcove Blogs for surfacing this data.

If you are interested to hear what some of silicon valley’s best practitioners, agencies and consultants have to say on the topic, we have a great SVAMA program coming up in Sunnyvale on February 10th.

See here two personal invite’s from speakers at the event:
Our Key Note Jeff Severtson kindly put together this short video:

Is traditional media dead? Maybe Inbound Marketing is the Answer?

The overwhelming trend in the advertising business over the past few years has been fragmentation and a shift to online digital media. The traditional 30 second TV spots and print ads reach smaller audiences and have less impact than they once did.

It is time for marketers to look at new ways to deliver the results businesses need to grow.
Brian Halligan, the CEO of Hubspot is promoting the idea of inbound marketing and in fact is running an inbound marketing university this month to help people develop new marketing skills in this emerging arena.

Marketing is changing but here is a great video lamenting the old days in the advertising business…..