Archive for July, 2010
Forgetting is forgiving….
With time, we tend to forget past offenses. Whether they are personal or business, the old saying goes, “time heals all wounds”. Perhaps this is due to the fact that over time we forget….we forget the hurt, we forget the magnitude, we forget the impact. So forgetting it appears is part of the process of forgiving. But has the process of forgetting changed with the Internet. Now everything is preserved in some library of perpetual memory.
This was the subject of an article that appeared in the July 25th issue of the New York Times Magazine. The article dealt with the issue from a personal standpoint. But what about the perpetual memory of business issues. I wondered if Ford Explorer was still being haunted by the tire tread separation issue that caused roll-overs. Or Exxon with the Valdez tanker. And how can companies address the issue of the never-forgiving internet.
I looked at two comparative issues, the Toyota recall of 2010 vs. the Ford Explorer of 2000. And second, the BP vs. Exxon spills. I googled the four companies and looked at the first two pages of citations…how many of us go past the second page anyway. BP had about 50% of the citations dealing with the spill and all of the sponsored links. Exxon still had a few citations (lawyers never forget) and history records the incident as well. Toyota as a search word drew more about the current and incoming models and much about hybrids. And FORD Explorer was a page three item as a historical footnote.
So what do we glean from this?
First, time does help us to forget, but the memory of the incidents will now never fully go away…they will go to page three and beyond. Second, good news can fill the first pages of search; so you can manage the crisis by expanding coverage of your own good news (Toyota and its Hybrids) and use good PR2.0 techniques to assure pick-up. Third, good SEO (see my friends at www.treefrogseo.com) can move your good news to the first few pages and push the memories into the background. Fourth, consider owning the sponsor links as they always show up on page one.
Bad news today is never forgotten with the internet. You need strategies to manage the memories and help the bad news fade into the background and past page two of a google search.
Turning Female Friendly…
Today, a review of a new book with some of my own thoughts on the subject.
The book, recently released, is by Paco Underhill. Mr. Underhill is one of the great observers of the American consumer in the retail setting. The title of his new work is,
What Women Want: The Global Marketplace Turns Female Friendly.
Why is it so important to focus on the female consumer? The answer is that more of the economic power has shifted to her. More women are the head of households…with the roots of this change going back to the women’s lib days of the early 70’s.
So what do women want? What is the big idea or lesson from this work? Underhill cites four aspects that relate to the female consumer that retailers and businesses need to consider..and they are: CLEANLINESS; CONTROL; SAFETY; AND CONSIDERATENESS. Underhill cites many business examples as to how various businesses are succeeding with the female consumer based upon these aspects. Let’s take a quick closer look.
CLEANLINESS… certainly Ray Kroc of McDonald’s fame had this right when he put this into his winning business formula. Bathrooms; grills, everything must shine. Think about Lowes vs. Home Depot…based upon a clean environment, which store do you think attracts the female consumer?
CONTROL…women for a long time have dealt with this issue as they are physically not as powerful as men (generally speaking). Men control through power and women can gain control in other ways, often through finesse. Stores can give control to women such as privacy in the pharmacy line where other customers are asked to stand away. Power can come in the form of more choice and options giving a perception of power. How can you give more power to your female customer?
SAFETY…while we are all concerned about safety, again, women have less physical control over their safety so it needs to be a consideration. Signage and store voices over the P.A. should depict women or use their voices so they feel safe. Parking lots with good lighting; valet services; store cameras; all are part of the safety program. Aside from personal safety, women will want to feel safe in the products they use for instance, so conducting classes at Lowes on the use of power tools is another form of safety training. Also, consider that there is safety in numbers. How can groups of female customers be put together…for education, for discussion etc.
CONSIDERATENESS…We can define this in a number of ways. Service is an important aspect of considerateness; empathy being a part of the service quality. Understanding what is precious to the consumer and taking that into account…from their children to time. It is considerate to make things easy to use; to assure success with the product; to give the consumer exactly what she wants (customization); to account for and cater to their differences from men.
What Women Want….time to order your copy and find out before the competition does!
Jeff Heilbrunn, July 2010