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Posts Tagged ‘kristi colvin’

BRAND DOOM GAME

Design For Users‘ Kristi Colvin (@kriscolvin on Twitter) had some pretty powerful brand management advice recently that is well worth sharing here. Check this out:

The heart of a brand, like that of an individual, is vulnerable. It must be both soft enough to prove genuine caring, and strong enough to withstand scrutiny and adversity. But it is your core offering – not your products and services – and if you aren’t in touch with and know what’s in the heart, establishing lasting relationships with customers will be difficult or hit and miss. Do you want a shallow relationship with the people that interact with your brand, or a sympathetic bond that can withstand conflicts?

The connection between brand loyalty and a healthy bottom-line being what it is, I can’t really think of a better question to ask a CEO or brand manager every time they come to a strategic crossroads.

In other words… This type of introspection isn’t just something company execs should go through once a year or at the start of every new business cycle, but rather every single time a decision needs to be made within the company.

(I am already hearing the question germinating in your brains: What if hundreds of decisions have to be made every day? My answer to you is simple: Once a day or a thousand times per day, there is no difference.)

If you’re looking to save time, feel free to distill the question down to its core: “What would our customers want us to do?”

You just can’t go wrong with that kind of mindset.

Look at it this way: There is absolutely no decision anyone can make within a company that this question cannot be applied to. None. Why? Because every decision you make impacts your relationship with your customers. The software you use. The way you answer the phone. The speed with which you respond to complaints. The way you design your website. The way your product is packaged. The way you treat your vendors and partners. The people you hire. The people you promote. How clean your bathrooms are.

Everything.

Every time you are considering a new hire, ask yourself: “What would our customers want us to do?”

Every time you are considering cutting cost out of your model, ask yourself: “What would our customers want us to do?”

Every time you are about to respond to a crisis, ask yourself: “What would our customers want us to do?”

(Ideally, you want to be able to ask them directly, but that will have to be the topic of another post.)

Once you get into the habit of addressing every question, every problem, every crisis in this way, life gets a whole lot easier. Suddenly, you find yourself not needing to set up so many meetings. You find your reaction time greatly enhanced. You find that taking your ideas to market takes a whole lot less time.

You also find that you don’t have to work quite so hard to earn more business (new and repeat business).

Again, from Kristi:

“Engaging people from the heart of your brand, being vulnerable and forging true and lasting customer relationships are what will keep companies alive and thriving through good times and bad times.”

This isn’t touchy-feely rhetoric. This is as real as it gets. It’s how Starbucks used to do it. It’s how Zappos does it. It’s how the next generation of firebrands will do it.

And if you still aren’t convinced that what you read here today makes good business sense, here’s another question you might want to ponder: If you don’t do what’s best for your customers today, what will your customers do?

Everything you do either gives your customers a reason to do business with you or do business with someone else. There are no neutral-impact decisions.

Don’t give the other guy a chance to eat your lunch.

Don’t give the other guy a chance to earn a better reputation than you.

Don’t give the other a guy a chance to write your eulogy when you finally find yourself circling the drain in what used to be your market.

Even if you don’t buy the whole “higher calling” thing we’ve been talking about lately, understand that your customers are constantly judging you and THEY care. Being better, friendlier, easier to do business with is just good business. Treating your customers like cattle when so many other choices exist for them now will get you nowhere fast.

Have a great weekend, everyone! 😉

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Please start the national panic now

Please start the national panic now

Raise your hand if the national epidemic of complete and utter stupidity around the “threat” of swine flu is making you shake your head. Yeah, me too.

Is “swine flu” real? Yes.

Do I want to get it? No.

Will I take precautions to try and steer clear of the virus as much as possible? Of course.

But will I hide in a basement for the next three months? No.

Why? Because with all the talk and hype of pandemics, “swine flu” is still just… well, the flu.

That’s it, people: The flu.

It isn’t the zombie flu, okay? I know watching “Twelve Monkeys” sends a chill down a lot of people’s spines, and we’ve all had nightmares about the zombie virus from “28 Days Later” or Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of The Dead” taking us down… But this is just THE FLU. That’s it.

Yet here we are, in a state of complete and utter panic, shutting down entire school systems, buying surgical face masks by the box-loads, walking around with boxes of sterile wipes, and avoiding handshakes and people altogether. Last week, China considered a ban on all pork imports from Mexico. In Egypt, pigs are being slaughtered en masse… even though this strain of “swine flu” is a human-to-human virus. (You cannot get this strain of swine flu from eating pork.)

This kind of mass hysteria is embarrassing for the human race. Seriously. Stop it.

Everyone settle down for a second, take a step back, and take a deep breath: Every year in the united States, over 35,000 people die of the flu. Really. 35,000+. That is A LOT of people. Way too many, in my book. That number is tragic. And most of the victims of the flu tend to be small children and the elderly.

Yet, as tragic as this may be, no one freaks out. No one panics. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News don’t report on every single new death. The CDC doesn’t hold press conferences to keep people abreast of the spread of the flu. People don’t walk around wearing face masks and carrying sterile wipes everywhere they go. Countries don’t impose travel bans or mass livestock slaughter. School systems don’t shut down and send every kid home for weeks just as a “precaution”.

From November to March, when “flu season” is in full swing in the US, are we supposed to shut everything down and hide in our basements now?

Now that we’ve gotten a bit of perspective on the flu, doesn’t the panic over swine flu seem a little ridiculous? Worse than our overreaction to previous “threats” like African killer bees, West Nile mosquitoes, Avian flu andthe anthrax mailer?

As it turns out, the current strain of “swine flu” doesn’t seem to be all that virulent or particularly easy to pass on. It is no more contagious than any other flu strain, and doesn’t seem to be as potent as other strains that you or I have had the displeasure to run into at some point in our lives.

This is not the bubonic plague, people. It is just the friggin’ flu.

And it has absolutely nothing to do with bacon either, so stop freaking out about the pigs. Maybe we should have called this “CNN flu” instead of “swine flu”. I think that we would all be much better off. Surely, pig farmers and the grain producers who depend on their success to stay afloat would have had a much better week.

So in protest of this complete and utter nonsensical panic over the flu (as if we didn’t have better things to worry about, like… the pirate problem and injuries on “Dancing With The Stars”), some of us have decided to start a little protest of stupidity movement on Twitter. And just to be on the safe side (in case Swine Flu goes viral on the web) we have added face masks to our avatars, effectively turning them into “maskvatars” or “maskatars” (depending on whom you ask) – a term which I think was coined by Columbia, SC’s Mandi Engram – @mandiengram on Twitter (below, bottom right).

Note: As far as I can tell, either @ManFmNantucket (below, bottom center) or @SWoodruff (below, bottom left) were the first Twitterati to done maskvatars. Ther rest of us are just proud copycats.

A few #swinefluwknd participants

A few #swinefluwknd participants

Fellow blogger Kristi Colvin (@kriscolvin on Twitter, top right, above) gave our little movement its own clever little hashtag/thread: #swinefluwknd on Twitter. (Implying that the maskvatars will disappear on Monday… though they may not. We’ll see.) If you are on Twitter, please consider joining us. 🙂 (And yes, we will be playing with this until the swine flu terror goes away.)

As for the term “Hamthrax“, I am not sure who came up with it first, but I have Kristi Colvin and Mandi Engram to thank for introducing me to it. It gave me a good laugh last night. Thanks to them, I will no longer be referring to Swine Flu as “swine flu” starting today. Hamthrax seems a whole lot more appropriate.

Oh, and if you need me for anything, I’ll be hiding out in my underground African killer-bee and zombie-proof  fallout shelter until CNN tells me it’s safe to go outside again.

(Oh and yes, there will be a part 2 to this post.)

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