Thursday, October 30, 2008

The trouble with widgets.

Have your clients asked you for a widget yet? Widgets are single-purpose applications that allow companies to quickly and easily share “live” content—news, images, information, you name it, right on your computer desktop. No opening a browser window, it’s all sitting right there for you.

You might think of widgets as the modern day equivalent of tchotchkes, those old school promotional trinkets like logo-emblazoned coffee cups or pencils or note pads, designed to keep a company’s name front and center in a customer’s mindset. And more and more businesses are using them.

The Weather Channel has a widget that can give you a non-stop stream of local weather info. Southwest Airlines has a widget that “dings” every time a special offer is sent your way. And a nifty little widget from Domino’s Pizza serves up a customized menu with the click of a desktop icon.

But for every helpful or entertaining widget, there are hundreds more that are silly or inconsequential. Why? Most widgets don’t bring any added value to a customer’s life. After all, most of your customer’s desktops are as crowded as their inboxes. You’re fighting for the equivalent of beachfront real estate and most people are not going to give it up easily.

So if you find yourself developing a widget for one of your clients, you might want to ask these questions. Will my widget make the life of my customer easier? Will it save them money? Will it entertain them? If it can’t do at least one of these three things, and do it well, your widget is probably not worth doing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

CRM (Crummy Relationship Marketing).

You would think the marketers at CRM magazine would have a clue as to how they should manage relationships with their subscribers. But several times a week, and sometimes as frequently as 3-4 times a day, I receive e-mails that read something like this:

Dear CRM eWeekly Subscriber,
As a subscriber of our newsletter we thought you may be interested in…(insert advertiser’s product, service or upcoming event here)…

You’ll see by the salutation I signed up for the CRM eWeekly newsletter, not the CRM e4xDaily newsletter. And I don’t recall signing up for promotional e-mails. While it’s possible I didn’t click-off on a negative option box, you would think someone there would realize this kind of promotional e-mail bombardment is not going to win CRM, or its advertisers, any fans. Especially since CRM never inquired about the types of products or events I might be interested in.

How often should you send e-mail? As often as you can make the information contained within the e-mail relevant to the reader, whether that’s twice a week, twice a month or twice a year. Or else you risk the recipient taking the same action I’m about to take against CRM—opting-out of receiving e-mail messages altogether.

Tom Rapsas, Creative Director-Writer-Strategist,

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Loyalty advice from Haruki Murakami.

I’ve been reading the memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by the celebrated novelist Haruki Murakami. A good quick read, especially since Murakami writes about two of my favorite personal pursuits, writing and running. (Not to mention the pleasure afforded by an ice cold beer after a long run.)

In one passage, the author touches on a subject I didn’t expect: loyalty marketing. It seems that before becoming a novelist, Murakami ran his own small jazz bar in Tokyo. He tells of learning the following important business lesson:
If one out of 10 enjoyed the place and said he’d come again, that was enough. If one out of 10 was a repeat customer, then the business would survive. To put it the other way, it didn’t matter if nine out of 10 didn’t like my bar. Still, I had to make sure that the one person who did like the place really liked it.

It's a point we might ponder when looking at our clients’ business or our own. Is there one customer in 10 who really likes our business? If not, how do we create them? Or if we already have them, how do we get them to spread the word to others?

Tom Rapsas, Creative Director-Writer-Strategist,