Zappos Delivers WOW Moment

My Zappos order was delivered overnight as a special WOW gift to make me feel good.

Here’s a quick follow up to my recent post about Tony Hsieh and Zappos. I’m pleased to report that the company delivers on its WOW promise. Shortly after placing my order at www.Zappos.com on Wednesday, I received an email stating:

“Although you originally ordered Standard (4 to 5 business days) shipping and handling, we have given your order special priority processing in our warehouse and are upgrading the shipping and delivery time frame for your order. Your order will ship out today and be given a special priority shipping status so that you can receive your order even faster than we originally promised!

Please note that this is being done at no additional cost to you. It is simply our way of saying thank you for being our customer.”

Sure enough on Thursday my shipment arrives, complete with the cool Paul Frank monkey shirt for my son Ayrton. He’s wearing it proudly at school today. It’s always good to know another company that truly values relationships with customers.

ANA 2008 Brand Innovation Conference in NYC

“Brand Building 2.0” is the manner marketers use to effectively reach and relate to their audience in today’s world. This method employs more than just digital media, such as the Internet and mobile devices. It requires consumer empowerment. This was the topic at last week’s ANA Conference at the Hard Rock Café Times Square in New York.

Presentations were made by such respected brands as American Express, P&G and Ford. Of these, Claire Bennett’s discussion on “How new media has enhanced the American Express brand” was the most compelling. “It takes risk” was her summation about creating online marketing programs. Courage was the word she pin-pointed as the important take away.

American Express Members Know web site

It also takes time, explained Bennett. Her experience has shown that program ROI can not be realistically expected in the first year. A web site needs an opportunity to build momentum through trial and error, refinement, cross media promotion and WOMM. American Express strives to create marketing programs that “surprise and delight.” AMEX had only two such web sites in 2004, but now has eight successful ones, including MembersKnow and OpenForum.

Zappos 2007 Culture Book

The most interesting presentation at the conference was made by Tony Hsieh. He is the CEO of Zappos “a service company that happens to sell shoes.” The business is steadfastly focused on culture and service. The vast majority of their marketing budget goes into improving the customer experience. This includes stocking millions of shoes in their warehouse, providing exceptional and untimed call center support and surprise overnight shipping upgrades. Items not normally found in a marketing mix.

The goal is to create as many “wow moments” as possible. This creates loyalty and referral business. The approach is working. Zappos was started in 1999 and is expected to achieve over a billion in sales this year.

The Zappos culture is shaped by passion, fun, values and humility. Their core values are published on their web site. And a Zappos Culture Book is published each year featuring entries by all employees of the company – even negative comments. This radical transparency and humility seems present throughout Zappos.

I find the Zappos brand refreshing and empowering – so much so that I placed an order at Zappos this morning. In addition to the cool Paul Frank monkey shirt I bought for my son, I ordered the Zappos 2007 Culture Book. I paid $15 for it despite the fact that Tony Hsieh said he would send me one free if I emailed him. I just felt compelled to support the Zappos brand, culture and employees. Now that’s brand innovation.

A Golden Age for Consumers

I was shopping at one of my local home centers this weekend and was talking to an associate about a product.  For the first time ever I had an associate suggest I go online for research and specifically suggest I check the product’s reviews. 

And it reminded me that wow…how far things have come in such a relatively short time.  The web has been around about 14 years.  And in just the last few, things have gotten extraordinarily transparent.  I can read volumes about what shoppers and owners think of a product, and can find out how to do just about anything I’d want with it.  I can especially learn things the manufacturer probably should teach me, but doesn’t.

Speaking of empowered consumers and transparency, check out The Consumerist.  It’s an extraordinary concept, and a welcome presence on the webosphere.  As a consumer, I’ve found it helpful on more than one occasion, particularly when I needed to fight back (and sound off to a company’s upper management when I needed to help them see things my way.)

At Powered, we’ve been in the business of helping brands give consumers a great experience and spend their hard earned dollars smarter for years now. It’s nice to see we have some help.

Know of a site that helps consumers fight back?  Please share.

 

How Blogs & Social Media Are Changing Crisis Communications

Flight cancellations from American Airlines created a lot of news coverage and consumer angst this week. The result of wiring problems on MD-80 airplanes, this situation got me thinking about how the involved communications teams are responding.
Are they holding cards close to the vest or communicating openly?
Are they leveraging the Internet and social media?
An American Airlines MD-80 during take off.
How are consumers reacting online?
 
American Airlines’ customers have been highly inconvenienced, with over 2500 flights cancelled. Their home page had a single line: “ADVISORY: AIRCRAFT INSPECTIONS AFFECT SOME AA TRAVEL.” This linked to a simple page of text summarizing the situation. It was not all that helpful.
 
American Airlines’ chairman Gerard Arpey’s press conference today is already up on YouTube (uploaded by a consumer, not American Airlines). In the video, he personally accepts responsibility and apologizes for the problems. Other videos tagged with “American Airlines” posted on YouTube.com this week have been viewed over 20,000 times.

In the blogosphere, Greta van Susteren’s post on the subject has created a good amount of consumer conversation with nearly 50 responses since 11am this morning.

These events show how consumer conversations take place in real time online. Communication professionals need to account for this in crisis communications plans. We need to monitor, analyze and interact with the blogosphere and UGC communities before, during and after such events.
 
As advisors in social media, we have a responsibility to encourage and facilitate a more open conversation in the market. This is even more important in difficult times.

The Gratitude Effect: Building Consumer Loyalty

Powered recently updated our web site. This update includes a series of videos detailing things such as social commerce, consumer engagement and the gratitude effect. These videos can be viewed on the Powered web site or at the Powered page on YouTube.

Here’s a sample video about the Gratitude Effect.
Learn what the gratitude effect is, where it originated, and how Powered has implemented it into its social commerce programs.

Shouldn’t The Golden Rule Apply to Marketing Too?

rockgold1.jpgIf you were a consumer (and you are) – would you like your marketing? Would you want it done to you? Your family and friends? I’ve been in marketing for nearly 17 years and have found myself (unfortunately) on more than one occasion hypocritically applying a double standard. “I don’t want that product’s marketing noise in my inbox/mailbox/living room…but hey, when it comes to my stuff I’m sure they want what I’ve got. I’ve just got to tell them. Often.” BTW, I’m doing my best to stop that. And I am DEFINITELY not alone in my remorse. See this. And this. And this.

 

The great thing is that “new” marketing (done right) makes it easier than ever to treat others as you’d like to be treated. And in many ways it’s easier to mea culpa for mistakes. Because we’re all going to make them. And we should, because we should be trying new things all the time – just like Einstein said.

 

So next time you’re about to launch that new campaign or initiative, remember the Golden Rule.