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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Your Brand is What You Do; Not Just What You Say You Do

In this brief and well-articulated essay (Make Your Product Work for Your Brand, CMO Strategy), author Steve Beck (VP Strategy, Organic) drives home the point that brands today are built more powerfully through the experience that consumers have with your product or service. 

One of my favoritie quips, "It's not McDonald's saying their food is healthy, it is McDonald's putting healthier food on the menu. In the past, the whole world of positioning was really simple. You targeted an audience, articulated a promise and then communicated the heck out of it. You created advertising. Today everything is an advertisement -- starting with what it is you are selling."

Brand experience doesn't happen by accident; it happens by design.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Global Consumer Confidence Rebounding

Global consumer confidence in the first quarter of 2010 rebounded to reach its highest level since the third quarter of 2007, providing the most definitive sign that the world is beginning to recover from the recession, according to the latest edition of the Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index. As the world’s consumers started to spend again, they drove the global index up to 92 points (100 = average) in the first quarter. This represents a six point increase from six months ago and only two points short of the 94 point index mark in Q3 2007, just prior to the decline into world recession. Consumer confidence hit an all time low of 77 index points in early 2009, following the collapse of the international financial system, before steadily increasing again last year.

Nielsen’s Global Consumer Confidence Index tracks consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions among more than 27,000 Internet users in 55 countries. In the latest round of the survey conducted between March 8 and March 26, 2010, consumer confidence in many markets rebounded to pre-recession levels of late 2007 and early 2008. Additionally, over the past year, the number of global consumers who believe they are currently in recession dropped 19 points to 58 percent, compared to 77 percent a year ago.

That's the good news.  The report, however, also highlights the disparity between East and West - the pace and extent of economic recovery is greatest in Asia Pacific and Latin American countries and, although better, still sluggish in the U.S. and western Europe, largely due to higher unemployment rates.

“Americans are still extremely cautious about spending given the uncertain nature of the recovery in the U.S. and the continued level of high unemployment. They remain committed to managing controllable costs such as gas and utility bills, and they continue to focus on repairing their balance sheets,” said James Russo, Vice President, Global Consumer Insights at The Nielsen Company. “That said, they are expressing a desire to spend more on discretionary items such as out-of-home entertainment, apparel and vacations—a noticeable shift in this survey. A huge opportunity exists for manufacturers, marketers and retailers who know how to reach the right consumers in the most effective way.”

Get the full report - click here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Patient Experience Starts with the Hiring Process

It’s 6:45 am on a Sunday morning and I’m sitting in an airport waiting on a Southwest Airlines flight to Chicago. The flight is running a little late, and bleary-eyed passengers bemoan the extra half hour of sleep they could have had. Meanwhile the Southwest gate agents, who look much too rested and energized for such an early hour, begin the lighthearted banter for which they are known. Pretty soon, the delayed passengers are laughing at their goofy repartee of corny jests and bad-rhythm rap. Once on board, the pilot apologized for the delay and joked that he’d just had a low-carb, high energy drink to help get us there in record time.

While some might see these gestures as silly, they are part of the airline’s legendary culture – one that turns customers into loyal followers. Southwest’s vigorous hiring process assures they have a better than average track record of selecting good-natured individuals that love to serve others but don’t take themselves too seriously. It makes for a great customer experience on an otherwise no-frills aircraft.

With all the talk about customer experience in health systems today, I wonder how many organizations have hard-wired their HR systems to weed out those applicants who just don’t have customer service in their DNA. Why try to train the surliness out of people that shouldn’t have been hired in the first place?

So many of our healthcare employees truly enjoy serving patients and customers, and do so admirably – often under trying circumstances. But those that don’t, hijack your brand – and break the covenant of trust between the brand and customer. That’s a marketing problem.