How to create an enchanting event

Ever since I read Guy Kawasaki’s book Enchantment, I have looked for products and services that meet Guy’s high standards for enchanting your customer.

Last week, I found an enchanting experience in the form of the GSMI Blogging Strategies Summit. The event enchanted me because it provided great content, intimacy, the right attendees, personal service, and an intriguing location.

If you host events as part of your marketing outreach, I hope your next event contains these essential elements:

1. Great content

A successful experience begins with great content. It’s obvious, right? But most events I’ve attended — even excellent ones — do not give your uniformly great content. Lurking in the agenda are always a few dud speakers who have you running for a self-imposed break.

But I was impressed by every session I attended at the Blogging Strategies Summit. The purpose of the event was to share best practices in corporate blogging and community management. The speakers ranged from Duane Forrester of Bing (who discussed the importance of optimizing your content for search marketing) to Carisa Miklusak, CEO of tMedia Strategies, who led workshops on blogging for women and executives.

Duane Forrester

At some point you’d think that so much focus on a single topic would lapse into the realm of geekiness or irrelevancy. Such was not the case at the Blogging Strategies Summit. Why? Because all the topics, however esoteric, tied back business needs everyone cares about, such as servicing customers or improving your brand.

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How to say hello to a customer

Recently I blogged about the right way to say goodbye to your customer. How you say hello to a customer is even more crucial — in fact, so important that Guy Kawasaki devotes several pages to the power of the first impression in his latest marketing best seller, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. Leaving a good first impression creates a halo effect for your brand. My recent experience with consumer printer maker Epson is a case in point.

If you have ever set up a printer or any other consumer technology product, you understand why I felt like slitting my wrists when I realized I needed a new printer for my MacBook at home. Researching and deciding on the right one – an Epson Artisan 725 – wasn’t so bad; it was the set-up process that I dreaded.

I anticipated the painful and confusing wrestling match with information technology that I’ve come to expect with consumer electronics. Confusing instructions. Devices that won’t talk to each other. And perhaps a bewildering experience with a call center for good measure. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

One day the Epson Artisan arrived on my front porch like a bomb waiting to be activated. My first impulse was to clean my daughter’s hamster cage and finally get around to thoroughly understanding my employer’s expense reporting policies – anything to avoid a confrontation with the large cardboard box waiting for me.

Finally I caved in and opened the box. And I was in for a surprise: a flawlessly easy experience that transformed me from consumer-as-victim to Epson ambassador. Here’s why:

1. Epson shows empathy

As I opened the box, I anticipated having to wade through a lengthy manual and sorting through a box of random parts requiring assembly. Epson understood what I was thinking. I had barely opened the box when I encountered a slender, prominently placed envelope labeled, “Open Me First.”

Open Me First – like a welcome mat in front of a home. Immediately I felt just a bit more comfortable.

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Guy Kawasaki gets personal

I read Guy Kawasaki’s new book Enchantment expecting to learn how to become a better marketer. Instead I became immersed in something deeper: a discussion on how to be a better person, with more effective marketing being a by-product. Enchantment focuses on the embrace of personal and corporate values such as likability and trustworthiness. Get rooted in the right values and personal behaviors, Guy asserts, and you’ll not only become a better marketer, but you just might change the world. I posted a review of Enchantment on the iCrossing blog Great Finds. You may learn more about the book on the Enchantment Facebook page. This infographic courtesy of Guy is pretty useful, too. Happy reading.

Enchantment Infographic

Make unemployment work for you

Unemployment can be a time of self-renewal and discovery. During a recent break between jobs, I have bonded with my family, developed my blogging skills, stayed up to date on social media technologies, and helped others. In collaboration with Guy Kawasaki on the American Express Open Forum, I provide more insight into my unemployment journey. Here is the complete blog post. And a big shout-out to Guy for the opportunity.

Razorfish report dispels social myths

If you’re trying to build a brand through social media or influencers, chances are you’ve experienced a steep learning curve.  Well, don’t feel so bad — you have plenty of company according to a new report launched by my employer Razorfish.

According to Fluent: The Razorfish Social Influence Marketing Report, companies still have a long way to go in order to build their brands effectively through social.  Consumers surveyed by Razorfish report widespread indifference to brands in the social world.  For instance, about 60 percent of consumers don’t bother to seek out opinions of brands via social media.

The notion that brands are finally learning the social ropes is among the Social Influence Marketing myths that Fluent dispels, as discussed by my colleague Shiv Singh, the report’s principal author and editor.  Another interesting finding: consumers believe television is more trustworthy than social media advertising when purchase decisions are made:

So what gives?

The problem is actually not all that complicated: marketers are treating social just like TV, as a broadcast mechanism.  So actually we should not be surprised that consumers trust TV more than social ads.  TV has been around for decades.  Consumers are more comfortable with TV in many respects.

We believe the answer is for companies to take advantage of the participatory nature of social and to develop an authentic social voice built on humility and genuine interest in consumers.  Comcast is trying to do so through its responsive Comcast Cares account in Twitter.  (Speaking as a consumer, I’ve used Comcast Cares to address problems with my bill, and Comcast really does care.)  Comcast doesn’t use Twitter to tell you how great it is but to participate in the conversation we’re having about Comcast. Comcast is acting like a brand that does instead of a brand that just talks.

Razorfish works with a number of companies that also demonstrate the right way to build a brand in the social world. I’ve blogged about a number of them, such as Intel, Levi’s, and Mattel.  For instance, to build brand awareness among gamers and designers, in 2008 Intel worked with Razorfish to launch the Digital Drag Race.  The Digital Drag Race challenged designers to create short films using the Intel Core i7 microprocessor.  Intel employed social media influencers (including Intel’s own Michael Brito) and media (including contest entries posted on YouTube) to generate buzz among the design and gaming community.

Fluent is also significant for introducing the SIM Score, designed to help marketers measure the effectiveness of your brand in a world where social influencers hold sway.  The SIM Score, created with the help of TNS Cymfony and The Keller Group, measures how much consumers talk about your brand and how positive or negative those discussions are.  In Fluent, Razorfish applies the SIM Score to companies ranging from GM to Capital One.  Although the SIM Score focuses on the online world, in two industries we correlate the SIM score to the offline world, too.

Check out what Advertising Age says about the SIM Score.  For other outside perspectives, blog posts from Guy Kawasaki and Dave Knox are also informative.

Let me know what you think of Fluent.  Please also visit Shiv Singh’s blog, Going Social Now, where periodically Shiv will provide deeper commentary on Fluent.