In a post-advertising age, big brands should no longer expect success solely generated from monetary funds. We live in a digital world that demands creativity and innovation; an interactive online community where effective marketing does not have a price tag. This modern landscape forces brands to change their consumer approach and offers the opportunity for all brands to thrive despite how green their garden appears. I will discuss how certain brands are succeeding in the wireless world and what they attribute to their fruition.
Zappos (Customer Service)
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh knows firsthand that it is not all about the money anymore. Hsieh says that the most valuable driver of growth for the company has been repeat customers, and the most advantageous method to spread brand awareness has been through word of mouth. Zappos invests the money other companies spend on paid advertising into customer service, which translates into positive customer experience.
The first implementation of their customer-oriented strategy can be found on the company website. Zappos offers free shipping anywhere in the United States and a return policy free of charge. Hsieh explains, “The additional shipping costs are expensive for us, but we really view those costs as a marketing expense.” Furthermore, company contact information is listed at the top of every single page on the site. Hsieh says that his company actually wants to talk to customers and most other company web site bury contact information at least five links deep to avoid as much interaction as possible with consumers.
The second way Zappos attempts to increase lifetime value of its customers is through an unconventional practice. Hsieh says, “There’s a lot of buzz these days about ‘social media’ and ‘integration marketing.’ As unsexy and low-tech as it may sound, our belief is that the telephone is one of the best branding devices out there. You have the customer’s undivided attention for five to ten minutes, and if you get the interaction right, what we’ve found is that the customer remembers the experience for a very long time and tells his or her friends about it.”
Warby Parker (Social Media)
Warby Parker is using the buzz of social media and applying a crowdsourcing approach, which has transformed the company into one of the hottest eyewear brands. The eye apparel experts offer a timely solution for customers who struggle with decision making when it comes to fashion. They send five pairs of glasses so that consumers can choose the perfect fit. If a customer is still unsure of the right choice, support is offered on Warby Parker’s Facebook community. This online community encourages photo posts of consumers wearing different styles of shades so that other users can assist in the decision. Further guidance is offered by the brand itself, who will often chime in with kind advice. Warby Parker’s social efforts have been madly lucrative and its Facebook page is lit up with comments from happy customers.
While Warby Parker is using forms of digital communication to generate growth, Monteith’s is exploiting the power of brand storytelling. The New Zealand-based cider brewer used negative publicity about other food and beverage companies and spawned a positive idea. Although not as startling as finding a fried chicken head in an order of McDonald’s chicken wings or a latex condom in a bowl of McCormick and Schmick’s clam chowder, Monteith’s decided to stick real apple tree twigs inside of their beer packaging. People began to complain on social media sites and phones were ringing off the hook in regards to the sticky situation.
Monteith’s issued an apology that reassured the freshness of their products. They stated that they were “sorry” for the inconvenience the twigs caused, but when you make cider from fresh apples it is inevitable that twigs will fall off the trees during harvesting. Monteith’s tells an effective story that is being heard in a digital world where people have the option to hear what they choose.
Speaking of apples… Apple continues to bathe in their fruits and Ken Segall, author of “Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success,” shares his inside knowledge of how Steve Jobs built such a strong brand around simplicity. It is no secret that people love Apple because of their products’ advanced capabilities, yet unpretentious interfaces. However, the inner-workings of the company are revealed by Segall and provide useful information about the power of simplicity in today’s age.
Segall says, “The whole company is guided by this love for simplicity. Apple has this unique way of applying common sense and not getting wrapped up in the intricacies.” Furthermore, he illuminates three elements that define Apple’s success. The first, “Think Brutal” describes Apple’s brutally honest approach and how consumers appreciate the transparency of the brand in a two-faced modern business world. The second, “Think Small,” is a comment on the size of internal groups working on company projects. Segall says that Apple never throws a ton of people on a project, unlike most other companies. They have small groups of smart people that produce time after time and feel good about it. They want to work 80-hours per week. The final, “Think Phrasal” refers to Apple’s ability to use words wisely. These techies are brilliant when it comes to selecting as few words as possible that will have the greatest impact. It is an ideal format in today’s fast-paced environment.