Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Customers from Hell: How are They Created?

There's a Star Trek episode in which the Enterprise enters an alternative universe and an "evil" Kirk emerges onto the ship (The 'Enemy within'). The whole episode is about who is the "real" Captain Kirk: the nice one or the evil one?

Creating a Customer From Hell

Creating the Customer From Hell

Most of my students think of me as a "nice" guy... But - like most of you - I have my evil streak.  There are certain companies - Verizon, and now HP - that I truly, truly hate. Recently, my HP desktop failed, and I have had to make call after call after call to HP technical support.  They seem unable to fix even the simplest of problems - generating an RMA number and accepting the return for repairs of a computer under warranty - and "run around" is a nice way to describe how I have been treated.

I even went to an HP consumer forum and posted a "plea for help," only to have some rude moderator tell me I was in the wrong place!  So HP tech support can't help, the forums can't help... and I have a non-functioning $1600 computer that is only 9 months old, and seems to be completely worthless. Am I a powerless consumer?

Am I a Customer from Hell for HP?

So...  I am officially becoming a "customer from Hell" for HP.  I am dedicating my life to informing the world of how much I hate this company, its products, and everything that it does. Once, it was a great Silicon Valley company... but today... it is but a dying wreck of itself.

How does this fit into marketing?  Well... what are the ways that you (and your company) are creating "customers from Hell?" Not just people who dislike you, but people who loathe you. People who are so angry and disgusted with your service that they will create blog posts, YouTube videos, and other Internet content that will "scare away" potential customers?

The Internet and the Unhappy Consumer

We live in a funny age. Today customers who are unhappy can really publicize their unhappiness, as I am publicizing my unhappiness with HP.  I might even do a viral video of me destroying my computer with a sledgehammer to the tune of Miley Cyrus' "wrecking ball."  Heck, perhaps I will even Twerk to it.  Oh well, must keep sense of humor (Captain Kirk).

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Death of Progressive's SEO-friendly Home Page (and What it Does Not Mean for You)

It's no secret to anyone who's taken an SEO class from me that I have admired the Progressive.com website for its SEO prowess. The (former) website was clean, simple, and followed SEO practices, especially the idea of "link sculpting." The original home page sported header tags, with links down to defined landing pages, and nifty thumbnails. They even had short sentences following subject / verb / object principles. Oh it was beautiful: an SEO work of art.

Cometh The Trainwreck

Click to see original home page layout.
Well, they've revised their home page!  Take a look at it now.  Yikes! First of all, there's TWO Flo's creepily looking out at you, like Flo suddenly has an evil twin. Gone is the SEO simplicity of simple one-click links to landing pages, around defined phrases.

Now, instead we have the graphics department run amuck.  Foo-foo graphics, and text simplicity. Whereas previously we linked down to 'Motorcycle Insurance' now we link to the phrase 'Motorcycle.' (Bye-bye keyword phrase). Not to mention that the entire element is now inside of an A HREF / anchor tag. It's code gone crazy, and SEO gone nuts now at Progressive.

Flo will soon be unhappy, no?

Not Exactly

Progressive will probably not see a dramatic decline in their Google rank. Why not?

  • Links. Unlike you or I, they have a massive amount of inbound links.  Link energy will forgive them for many errors, not the least of which this terrible, horrible, rotten no good new home page layout.
  • Competition. Most of their competitors (Geico), have also transitioned to foo-foo image-oriented home pages.  Geico used to beat the pants off of Progressive a few years back, and then Geico messed up its home page. So possibly Geico will now regain the number one spot, now that Progressive has gone off and shot itself in the foot
For you, or I, however, we usually have to play by the basic rules of SEO. Meaning: one click links from our home pages, around defined phrases.  We don't have the luxury of producing trainwreck home pages, as Progressive sadly has now done.  The rules for small sites are much more rigid than those for sites with the kind of link footprint that Geico and Progressive enjoy.

Do what I say; not what they do.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Video Marketing: New (and Old) Options for any Small Business

Video is huge on the Internet! Rumor has it that YouTube is the #2 search engine, far ahead of Bing, and today Facebook got the limelight with an announcement that it, too, is moving heavily into video. In fact, creating a compelling (viral? shareable?) video is a great marketing strategy for any non-profit or business.  Just witness the ice bucket challenge, or dear future mom.

Useful Links for Marketers on Video

Video Marketing
Beyond having a concept for a great video (note to self: the videos that get shared are emotional - funny, sad, sentimental, shocking), where can you post and share your video?  Here are some useful links - 

  • YouTube. I think of YouTube as the "foundation" of a video strategy. You just gotta have a YouTube channel, and you just gotta upload videos to YouTube.  Learn more here.
  • Facebook. Facebook isn't so much a place to "store" videos as it is a place to "share" videos. You can read their latest announcement here, and a New York Times piece about it, here.  You can read all about how to upload a video to Facebook, here.
  • Vimeo.  The cognoscenti love Vimeo, but quite frankly, I think of it as an also-ran. It does not have the marketing capabilities of YouTube, so I would use it only if you are in the high-end photography market.
Those are the major ways to get started with video, but remember - uploading a video is not the same as promoting a video.  For that you gotta think SEO (optimizing the video title, content, and responses), and social media (you gotta think - who will share this puppy, and why?).

Short Video Services

Beyond the majors, there are short video services that are really interesting and possibly of use - 

  • Vine. This is Twitter's super short video service.
  • Instagram Video. This is Instagram's service (owned by Facebook)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Humor in Marketing: Some Funny Links

Humor and marketing... go together... But sometimes it's a pretty cynical humor. Here are two sites I've come across lately that are pretty funny and have some relationship to marketing...

Site #1 - Tom Fishburne: Marketooner

Mr. Fishburne is a very funny cartoonist, and he takes his wicked wit and points it at the hypocrisies of the marketing profession. I especially like his latest spin on the ALS "Ice Bucket" challenge - 

@ http://tomfishburne.com/2014/08/icebucket.html

Google Poetics

Another website that's pretty funny (but apparently died in June) is Google Poetics at http://www.googlepoetics.com/