Archive for December, 2008



Hopefully, this headline caught your attention. I’m not sure if it is me just getting older, or it is the fact that customer service at the retail level has dropped to an all time low. Store clerks that aren’t well trained either don’t approach you or are totally uneducated on the products/services their company offers. It also seems that retailers today are trying very hard to alienate their customers and guess what…are doing a great job of it.

Here are 2 excellent examples of what I’m talking about. First, is Costco. For those of you not familiar with this retailer, they are a membership only warehouse, similar to Sam’s Club or BJ’s for those of you back East.

Last week I went to my local Costco’s to window shop and pick out some gifts for Christmas. Yes, OK…I was looking at a big screen LCD and new Blu-Ray DVD player…totally a guy thing. Well, it had been a while since I used my membership card and thought I’d better see if I was current.

Here’s were my customer experience fell not only flat, but it was truly humiliating. The clerk at the service desk reviewed my account and in deed, it was time to re-up my membership dues. She was nice enough to tell me I had a credit of $48 coming, but it would take 7 to 10 weeks to verify. No problem I told her, I’ll either re-up then or when I make my purchase of my TV, I’ll pay at that time. After all, I can’t purchase anything unless I’m a paid up member.

“May I have my membership card back?” I asked. “NO, you aren’t a member any longer, when you pay your dues, we can give your card back.” she reply. Well, right at that moment it was a turning point for me. Frankly, it was like being at a used car lot and the sales person just tossed my car keys on the roof…”buy now or walk home!”

Gee, didn’t she realize I was a loyal customer of 20 years? Didn’t she realize I probably spent over $60,000 with her company during that time? Didn’t she have the vision I would probably spend at least that much over the rest of my lifetime with her company?

So why get so upset? It isn’t that Costco has planned to alienate their loyal customers, it is just they don’t care. Listen, in this down economy retailers need to be more proactive and reward their customers with the same loyalty they’ve shown them.

This gets to the point I mentioned in prior blogs…next year, your #1 strategy needs to be on current customers. Why? Simple, it costs less money to sell to someone who’s already bought from you verses spending dollars fishing for new ones. If they bought from you once, they want to buy from you again. And every customers needs to be treated like they are a million dollar spender.

Sorry this blog is getting a bit long, but point number 2 is what I call the “Dude” syndrome. I’ll make this quick I promise. I was looking to save some money on my mobile phone and started looking at new providers. Along the way the new Google phone caught my eye…an exclusive of T-Mobile.

As I entered the T-Mobile store I was promptly greeted by an 18 or 19 year old who said “Dude, can I help you?” Wow, hadn’t been called Dude in a while…but hey. As the young man eagerly tried to answer all of my questions about the Google phone and T-Mobile services, he ended each sentence with “Dude.”

I wasn’t getting upset about him calling me Dude, I just thought what poor training T-Mobile gave their sales people. The story ends with the young man realizing he couldn’t close me and calling his manager over…a 20 something. With a big smile on his face he greeted me with “So, Dude, how can we make you a customer today?” Needless to say, I didn’t buy from them, but did leave the store with a smile on my face…WOW, I’m a Dude again.

I’d love to hear some of your stories…

UPDATE: I heard back from Costco and to my surprise very quickly. It seems they really do care about their customers and offered me a sincere apology for the misunderstanding.


Silicon Valley CMO Summit Report

Well…wasn’t the CMO Summit just fun!  We had 27 in final attendance, and a mixture of marketing veterans who all had great opinions and ideas to share.

Dr. Reilly turned out to be an excellent speaker, and at first appearance she came across as a bit shy.  But as soon as she started her talk, you were riveted to listening to her every word and though her speech ran 30 minutes longer than planned…we all enjoyed it.

Summary of her talk:
Recession will last a few years…stagflation possible for next year, followed by inflation.  Look to 2nd half of the year 2009 for business sector to kick-in. Basically we are ALL screwed as credit will remain tight, housing will be in the negative, and the American durable goods manufacturers will see drastic cut-backs.

Bright side, start-ups and companies focused on new technologies i.e. green energy; social networking and Internet based; Government suppliers; Infrastructure suppliers (roads, bridges, heavy construction). I wish I could better articulate her speech…it was really good.

My global colleagues Jane Prior of Priority Consultants based in Singapore, and Crispin Manners of Kaizo PR and Marketing based in London, gave us a glimpse of what was happening in their Geo’s and shared some strategies for marketing/pr in 2009.

In my presentation (which I will share in later blogs) I discussed what marketers are doing in North American and shared 7 strategies for successful marketing in a downturn economy.  I also discussed my thoughts on what the CMO of the future will need to know and do.

Christina Ellwood of Moreland Associates, did a great job as usual…after all public speaking is in her DNA.  We ended the meeting with 30 minute roundtable discussion and WOW, it was lively and fun.  Everyone seemed to have an opinion.  The event ended with some award winning wine and unexpected guest, the owner of the winery joined in to share his insights to his products.

I really want to thank and acknowledge all of you, who helped in the event preparation, presentation and sponsorship of this project.  Talk about making me look good.  Thanks!


17 Days Before Santa’s Arrival

This past weekend I stopped by our local shopping mall, surprised by the crowds and parking situation or lack there of, I thought to myself “what resecssion?”  Bargin hunters, early holiday shoppers and folks who just like crowds and people watching were all out and in full glory.  December is also reserved for marketers as they plan next year’s budget or revise the plans from October.  Smart marketers will also be smart bargin hunters as ad placement is at it lowest point reflecting back to the early 70’s pricing.

Chicago Tribune announced today they are filing Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and stated it is directly related to the state of the economy with less and less advertising dollars both print and electronic being spent.  I was fortunate enough to be part of a DSL (Digital Subscriber Line…for those of you who forgot)…(broadband) pioneer, who in part was responsible for delivering the services we now all enjoy and take for granted. I mention this because the person I worked for at the time (Kumar Shah) was a true visionary when he marketed the idea that the Internet would change the world of advertising. And yes, he was right and yes, the Internet did change the face of marketing and advertising.


Help! The Sky is Falling!

This week started off with me getting a number of calls from old friends and associates here in the SF Bay area saying they either got laid off or have been out of work for more than a year.  Ouch! This is sad news as I know marketing types are always the first to go and budgets slashed to conserve money.  Let’s face it…December sucks as a month to be looking for work.

I have some ideas that I would like to share with those of you currently in the “I’m now a consultant” mode while looking for full time work.  First, I want to form a community of networking for marketing types…let’s call it “Pink Slip Summit” and it will cater just to marketing folks.  It always seems we get the short end of the stick…so let’s help ourselves.  More on this idea as it develops.

What to do over the holidays: Obvious, but get your resume in order. Start with 3 types…formal, short and quick and focused on different types of career titles i.e. Director of MarCom, VP of Sales, New Business Manager…well you get the idea.  Then make sure you have them saved in doc and txt formats.

Next…post to as many online sites as possible.  Yes, you will get spammed but you might just get a hit. By the way, less than 1% of executive jobs are filled from online postings…but you could be in the 1%.

I have more ideas, but this is a blog not a presentation.  If you like my idea on Pink Slip Summit for Marketing types…let me know and give me some ideas on how to get this working.

December 2008