There’s a lot that gets said about customer loyalty or brand loyalty these days. On this subject I would like to offer one thought.
A company has true customer loyalty when, rather than get enraged, their customers will make excuses for the company when the company or its products screw up.
Case in point. I love Apple. I love the company. I love the products. I love the ads. I’m one of those people who says “you can have my Mac, when you pull it away from my cold, dead hands.” I’ve been using a Mac since 1987 when I started working for Apple during business school. When I bought my G5 last summer at the local Apple store, more things could not have gone wrong. The first thing that went wrong is that when I went to pick up my new computer after I had left my old Mac with them to transfer the data to the new Mac, they sent me home with someone else’s computer. This I discovered when I carefully unwrapped that huge box and set up the Mac in its new home, only to find out that someone else’s files where on the desktop. Oops! The Apple store had also forgotten to give me my old computer back, and in my delirious excitement over the new one, I had forgotten too.
Attention marketers and market researchers! Amazon.com’s Alexa has teamed up with Google technology to deliver amazing free traffic and ranking statistics for all websites at www.alexa.com. By monitoring the site viewing activities of a million or so web surfers who have installed Alexa’s free toolbar in their browser, Alexa tracks traffic, page views and visitors, ranked and over time for every site on the web. Alexa can tell which other sites are linking to a particular site. It also can tell you other similar sites that a particular website’s visitors have viewed. This data is a treasure trove for anyone researching markets, companies, or industries. The traffic data is relative, not absolute, but still quite useful for evaluating a company vis-a-vis its competitors. One thing to note is that the Alexa toolbar only works with Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer. So given that Mac users are left out of those whose web movements are being tracked, the Alexa data may not be as representative for Mac product companies.
Relationship of Inbound Links to Site Traffic
One of the outcomes of Google’s rise to dominance as a search engine is that sites that have more inbound links — other sites linking to it — get ranked higher in search results and therefore get more traffic. (You can read more about this at: Search Engine Optimization). But what exactly is the relationship of inbound links to site traffic? I did some quick analysis on a random group of consumer-focused art sites and found the following results.
Small companies have to work hard to get visibility, especially when the market is crowded with competitors all vying for the same business. In high tech they face the added dilemma that IT departments don’t want to buy from a small unknown vendor, and the vendor can’t become large and reputable unless it has major customers. So, how does a company become better known with limited resources? By becoming an industry thought leader.
What’s a thought leader?
A thought leader is a recognized leader in one’s field. What differentiates a thought leader from any other knowledgeable company, is the recognition from the outside world that the company deeply understands its business, the needs of its customers, and the broader marketplace in which it operates.
Trust is built on reputation and reputation is generally NOT built on advertising. It is built on what others say about you. Become a thought leader in your field and it won’t matter as much how big you are. Companies will look to you for insight and vision. Journalists will quote you, analysts will call you, websites will link to you.
How does one become a thought leader?
Before one takes the first actionable step, a fundamental shift in mindset is needed. Thought leadership requires a spirit of generosity – generosity of one’s time, intelligence and knowledge. It requires a trust that by being open with what you know, and by sharing your time and knowledge, the world will reward your efforts. With that in mind, here are steps that will help you on your way to being a thought leader:
Twelve Steps to Great Presentations
You’ve been asked to give a talk about your area of expertise to a group interested in learning what you have to say. How do you ensure that your talk will be successful? That you will engage your audience, exceed their expectations, and position yourself as a thought leader on the subject?
1. Know your audience – what do they care about?
The best advice I was ever given regarding speaking to an audience was to think less of what I wanted to say, and more of what the audience wanted to hear. In other words, speak to their listening. Will you be speaking to business executives or college students? What does your audience expect to learn from their interaction with you? Try to gauge this well, make sure you deliver upon it, and then if you have more to add, do so. Once you have an audience engaged and they trust that listening to you won’t be a waste of time you can give them what they want plus more.
Many creative marketing projects get underway without a clear sense of expectations between the marketing folks requesting the project and the creative folks delivering upon it, resulting frequently in lost time and expensive rework. A marketing brief is the best way for the marketer to clearly lay out a framework for the creative team. The process can be driven by either side – creative or marketing – but both sides need to agree on the brief before the work can commence. Here’s the Creative Brief Template (click here for printable version) I used at Apple Computer for many years.