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Archive for the ‘Cogitating’ Category

User or Customer – the same difference?

Posted by Lee on August 13, 2009

Photo 14We all hate examples of poor customer service, whether before, during or after we’ve made a purchase.
Who can blame us for being intolerant of service failures – I mean, if we pay good money for something, it should work shouldn’t it?

But here’s the thing – what about those services that have become like oxygen for our digital lives?
Twitter, Facebook, Skype, WordPress and any other number of free online tools, communities and services fuel our insatiable thirst to stay connected, and they’re free. Surely as reasonable human beings, we make allowances for service failures from these suppliers, because we don’t even pay to use them?

Wrong – it’s counter intuitive, but we’re so addicted to our minute-by-minute, social networking ‘fix’, we seem less tolerant when these services fail, than when a paid for product or service lets us down.
You don’t agree?
Well, just look at the backlash and outrage after a Twitter failure, or Facebook outages – what about your reaction to the poor quality video call the time you Skyped an overseas friend? Our intolerance goes beyond our reaction to service failure, it extends to our reaction when these providers to attempt to monetise the environments they provide through other means, like advertising – how dare they?

What does all this mean? Have we forgotten that these services are free, or have we moved into a new societal model where ‘users’ have the same expectations as paying customers, and we expect the things we choose to ‘use’ to work as well, if not better than those we buy? Are we all just becoming unreasonable or is it that we believe that the time we invest using these tools is payment enough?

What if Twitter charged everyone with an account, a nominal fee of say, $2.00 per month?
They’d certainly receive a direct income from us allowing them to upgrade and maintain their online service.
We’d also be legitimate customers, so would that make us even more demanding and intolerant, or would we all just leave in droves and find a new free thing?

Posted in Cogitating, Consumer Trends, Social media, Society, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Social Media For Dummies, or think before you act!

Posted by Lee on August 10, 2009

facebook follyI’ve just been emailed this Facebook item, and by now it’s probably bouncing around all corners of our networked world.

Is it genuine? Who knows, but either way it’s another timely reminder to those people who seem to use their social media accounts as a broadcast ‘Dear Diary’.

Firstly, employment agencies and potential employers now routinely search online to find out more about a prospective employee – they can gain some great insights from various social media streams into the person behind his or her glowing CV.

Next, once you’ve acquired ‘friends’, at least make sure you’re aware of the potential consequences of your actions if you say something negative about them in your ‘stream of consciousness’, especially if those ‘friends’ you’ve accepted into your social networking life also happen to be your your boss or superiors.

Thirdly – even if those you insult are not signed up as your friends and you think you’re telling others behind their back, remember that things can have a funny way of getting back to those you don’t want to know – especially with so many readily available ‘cut & paste’ tools around.

Finally, use some common sense, and if you aren’t willing to say something to someone’s face – don’t say it online, well at least not if your name and account clearly identifies you. That applies equally to divulging that you’re a stoner, regularly drink and drive, covet somebody else’s partner, or have questionable exotic sexual preferences etc.

We may live in a world where we like to think our privacy is protected, but all of that stands for nothing if you choose to advertise all your innermost needs, wants, desires and other secrets to the wwworld!

For what it’s worth, in this example, I thought her boss was very clear in his reply, and showed remarkable restraint 🙂

Posted in Blogs, Cogitating, Consumer Trends, Education, Entertainment, Internet, Social media, Society | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Laid off – the end of days, or a massive opportunity?

Posted by Lee on August 9, 2009

This is the greatest recession in most of our working population’s living memory –  and the casualties are mounting. Globally, unemployment continues to rise, and even for those of us safe (for now), it may seem like the ‘End of Days’.

However, we humans are adaptive creatures,adjusting to change pretty well – in no time at all, there’s no stigma attached to being laid off – other than the impotent embarrassment and sympathy oozing out of your family and friend’s pores when they meet you.

A good friend of mine, Simon, is a self-made, independently wealthy businessman. As my lovely wife has recently joined the ranks of the unemployed, we were talking together the other day and Simon made the point that the best time to start a new business or follow your dream is when you’ve lost your job.

Easy for him to say, I hear you cry, but his rationale is that many people are trapped in jobs they are not passionate about, but the income provides the financial buffer they need to pay for their ‘over-compensating life styles’. From time to time, they may daydream of doing what really pushes their hot buttons but won’t make the leap because it’s too scary to voluntarily give up a good income and lifestyle.
However, when laid off and facing the prospect of zero income – motivated people can prove to be extremely creative and resourceful – plus a business start-up that produces a positive net income of any description is better than nothing at all, and before long the adaptive person stops making comparisons with their high salaried life, and instead sees the improvement from their ‘no income’ period.

OK, enough waffle, what’s the real point of this post?

Well, I came across ‘Please Feed The Animals‘, a blog for the recently unemployed advertising professional – set up by a smart guy, Erik Proulx – an ECD / Copwriter who has, in his words “discovered the power of unemployment”. In his blog was a trailer for a new movie project called Lemonade. It’s about how recently laid off advertising creatives have coped, and are even thriving in new ways by following their own dreams. It looks like it’ll be an inspirational documentary film.

As for my wife? Well, she’s just embarking on a course of study to follow her own dream – hopefully supplemented with secondary sources of income.

Posted in Advertising, Agency life, Arts, Blogs, Cogitating, Consumer Trends, Economy, Education, Entertainment, Society | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Facebook – how are they using your pics?

Posted by Lee on July 26, 2009

facebooklogoI’m not naive and totally understand that Facebook and other social networking sites need to be able to find ways to monetise the millions of eyeballs, engagement (and server space) they’ve accumulated, but I think they’re in danger of betraying the trust millions of users have placed in them.

Apparently, Facebook has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures alongside their ads, without your express permission.

Facebook could easily make the effort to properly inform each and every one of their registered users about any changes they intend making to the terms of service. Yes, I accept that you can opt out of this change if you actually know about it, and once you do, it is easy to do – however, many users will be oblivious to this change – not good enough Facebook!

So, unless you’re happy with Facebook using your own personal pics in this way (not just on your behalf, but also your family and friends in your pics), you may want to exercise your rights to ‘opt out’ and preserve your privacy. Here’s how:

Log in to your Facebook account.

Click on “Settings” up at the top where you see the “Logout” link.

Select “Privacy”.

Then select “News Feed and Wall”.

Next, select the tab that reads “Facebook Ads”.

In the drop down box, select “No One”.

Save your changes.

There, all done!

Do it now, and you may want to let your friends know as well.

Posted in Cogitating, Education, Internet, Social media, Society, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Twitter in business – walking the line between following and stalking.

Posted by Lee on July 9, 2009

GaryTaxaliFun-thumb-300x362-5338

Let’s face it; anyone worth their salt in the marketing communications industry (agency side) will monitor the social media activity generated by, or around their clients or business prospects.
There’s nothing wrong with that. We do it all the time for our clients as it can help to provide a ‘finger on the pulse’ view of what people are saying about them, and an opportunity to sort out any customer service issues, real or perceived.
However, this afternoon I witnessed a something quite strange, and it made me a little uncomfortable.

An agency was trying to get attention of  @prospect via twitter.
Various members of said agency had got onto twitter and sent a series of tweets to a potential new business prospect in the telco category.
The tweets amounted to a tweet-by-tweet sales pitch handed on from one @agencyperson to the next, all sent to the @prospect in a continuous burst.

So why did the agency use this approach? Good question.
I guess they thought it was original.
I guess they thought that it would demonstrate that they knew how to use twitter, and it would impress @prospect.
Maybe it was just cheaper than picking up the phone?
It wasn’t exactly confidential as anyone monitoring @prospect’s twitter account could watch the approach unfold.
It also meant that @prospect could look at the agency tweeps profiles and see how ‘twitteractive’ @agency really are.
Would an approach such as this really impress @prospect?
I don’t know – it may be flattering I guess, however it could just as easily be viewed as a bit creepy and borderline.

A smart tactic?  Maybe. Clever? Personally, I don’t think so.
I acknowledge that these tweets weren’t direct messages, and some might feel that it just constitutes another form of public advertising.  However as most businesses set their their company name  as a search feed to monitor and respond to customer issues, it was inevitable that the @agency tweets were going to clog up @prospect’s feed.  If this approach had been used to target a specific consumer, what are the potential privacy implications?
How would a potential business client feel about receiving a ‘concentrated blast’ of emails or phone calls from various members of a hopeful sales company? Probably pissed off and a bit violated – and we know that no reputable business would sanction their employees using such behaviour.
I guess what makes me uncomfortable in this digital era, is that it’s such a fine line between targeted marketing communications tactics, and ‘stalking / spamming’ a prospect.
When are we crossing that line?

Note: the picure in this blog entry is entitled ‘Fun’ by the brilliant illustrator / artist, Gary Taxali.

Posted in Advertising, Agency life, Cogitating, Internet, Marketing, Sales promotion, Social media, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Customer Service – Go Doosh!

Posted by Lee on June 5, 2009

It’s getting colder now, so the other morning, while waiting at the airport for yet another delayed flight I went online to look for a warm, mid-weight jacket / coat.

About 3 years ago I’d brought a couple of long sleeve Tees from a cool NZ clothing brand called Doosh (Yes I know, their name is a bit suspect, but their clothes are cool), and I remembered that their jackets were pretty good as well. So I checked out their website and saw a jacket I liked the look of, ViewImage.aspxthe Arctic Coat (no, this not me modeling it!).

Although Doosh has an e-commerce store, and  I am happy to risk buying tee shirts etc online, I’m not going to buy a coat that way as I want to be able to try it on and check out the quality.

Unfortunately, their site didn’t say which retailers stocked their lines and so I clicked through to  ‘Contact Us’  and at 8.43 am, sent an email to Jacob Dodds (Doosh’s Account Manager), to ask whether was anywhere in Wellington that  I could check out the Arctic Coat.

At 9.08 am, just 25 minutes later, I got a friendly email reply from Dana Foster, their Warehouse Manager, giving me the details of Doosh’s Wellington stockist – Marvel Menswear – excellent! I went round  to Marvel Menswear later that day, tried on the Arctic coat, and brought it on the spot.

It may be a sad reflection of our times, but nowadays an incredibly prompt and friendly reply to a web site inquiry stands out as amazing customer service to me.  Simply by responding to me as they did, I was already predisposed to buying their product, and the only thing that could have ruined it was if there had been a product quality issue (there wasn’t), or poor service in-store (the service in the store was excellent).

Nice one Doosh, and not forgetting Marvel Menswear!

Posted in Brand Experience, Cogitating, Consumer Trends, Internet, Marketing | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

So, Twitter’s now mainstream – Time Magazine covers it

Posted by Lee on June 5, 2009

time_logoIt’s taken a while, but it looks like Twitter is now a bona fide, mainstream phenomenon, because this month, Time Magazine’s cover story is all about Twitter.

Well done to Twitter, and let’s hope this isn’t a sign that the Twubble is about to burst as early adopters ‘jump ship’ to look for the next cool, edgy, big thing. Probably not this time, because recent research shows that Twitter has (with the exception of ‘Celeb Followers’), got where it is without a lot of support from either Gen Y or the Millenials, probably the most fickle of all groups. No, Twitter has become the SM tool of choice of Gen X and Boomers.

It has become invaluable to users as an ‘interest and link resource’ – once you’ve found key people to follow ( based upon your own interests), you can post and read tweets, and send  interesting links to each other and the group. In effect, these fellow Tweeps become part of your ‘global hive research brain’. The  power of global micro-bloggers in real time!

Anyway, check out the Time article.

Posted in Cogitating, Consumer Trends, Internet, Mobile, Social media, Society, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The 1980’s – a lot to answer for?

Posted by Lee on May 24, 2009

The 1980’s, a decade of indulgence, bad fashion, big hair, and even bigger shoulder pads.

gecko with mobileAnd it wasn’t just the hair and shoulder pads that were huge. Big egos, big aspirations and a huge hunger for success all combined to make the 80’s the decade of greed. Who can forget the immortal line, “Greed is good”, as used by Gordon Gecko, the stockbroker anti-hero in the movie Wall Street?

In the early 80’s, mobile phones were relatively new, and the size of house bricks. IBM launched the home PC in 1981 and most of us were using MS-DOS until the arrival of Windows in 1985. Mass browsing on the World Wide Web would take another 9 years, when the Mosaic browser was launched.

What’s truly amazing is that many of us remember the  80’s but cannot recall how technology has moved along since then.

So, what has changed in the last 3 decades? Thankfully, the physical dimensions of most things personal – hair, shoulder pads, mobile phones, computers have all reduced dramatically. “Greed is good”, the ethos of the 80’s, isn’t a popular stance in our current times. Conspicuous consumerism is no longer cool and vulgar displays of wealth are tacky. Thrift is the new  black, and although size is everything, now it’s all about down-sizing – cars, homes, jewelery, weddings, mobile devices, laptops and stereo systems are just a few examples. Now, ‘Small is good’, just as long as it performs exceptionally well.rubik cube

Geek toys were also around in the 80’s – and they have their modern equivalents. Check out this Wired article.

However, before we merely write the 80’s off as the ‘bad taste’ decade, remember that it was also the time of the emergence of consumer based mobile and personal computing technologies,  the predecessors of our i-phones, Blackberries and always-on home media centres.

Posted in Cogitating, Consumer Trends, Economy, Mobile, Society, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The start of our ‘Winter of Discontent’? NZ circa 2009

Posted by Lee on May 18, 2009

Down here in Wellington, it’s cold, wet and windy – the usual conditions heralding the approach of Winter. However, this year it feels a lot chillier. Signs of the ‘R’ word are appearing everywhere – take a walk down the streets and we seem to be in the middle of a perpetual ‘sale season’, with shop windows everywhere yelling out to us with ’50 – 80% off everything in store’ and ‘2 for one offers’ – it all feels a little desperate.

For the moment, the cafes are still doing a roaring trade, but there’s little escape from the fear of  ‘R’ for the patrons of the coffee shops. As they sit there, sipping on their lattes and reading the newspapers, on nearly every page there are tales of economic woe. A couple of months ago, these stories would have been restricted to the business section of the dailies, but now they have spread across to the national news section as the economic woes of the world are no longer just  ‘Where did my investment go?’ or “Damn it, my shares have dropped again”, but now there’s  a torrent of ‘R’ words stories – Recession, Redundancies, and Real Kiwis losing Real jobs in Real communities – and if not mine, then very similar to mine.

Turning up my collar against the wind and the rain,  I decided to pick up a sandwich for lunch and came upon another sight that really added to my gloomy winter feeling. There on Lambton Quay, the ‘retail mile’ of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, were a group of people handing out leaflets and selling cakes.LWR Cake Bake

Lane Walker Rudkin, the iconic Kiwi clothing manufacturer is closing down and had just announced that 186 workers were being made redundant. Apparently, the workers may see their last wage payments, but there is no guarantee that they will get any redundancy payment or holiday pay. Sure, in times like these redundancies are going to happen, but it seems that yet again, the employer is not doing the right thing by their staff – this is an issue I’ve written about before. Surely as a minimum,  the staff’s outstanding holiday pay is an entitlement – an entitlement the company must have known about when the noose started to tighten.

So, were these ex-workers striking? Hardly, as that would be pretty pointless – no, instead they had set up a cake stall to to help the workers help each other out.

This may not be a big deal in other countries, but in NZ, it’s all quite unusual. However, what’s changed since earlier recessions and industrial unrest is the use of social media. In no time at all, The NDU (National distribution Union) who are acting with these ex-workers, have just launched a Facebook Group, “Bake a cake for Lane Walker Rudkin Workers”

I accept that these are the signs of the times, and maybe this is going to be our winter of discontent, and that’s a reality, just as long as employers continue to try and do the right thing by their employees, even while making the tough decisions.

By the way, if you come across these guys and their cake stand – take a moment to stop, put your hand in your pocket and buy a piece of cake. It’s delicious, and just be thankful that it isn’t you that’s been driven to doing this.

Posted in Cogitating, Consumer Trends, Economy, Social media, Society | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Time for a new economy?

Posted by Lee on May 10, 2009

great-depression-soup-lineI’m no economist and have been waiting to see how the world’s leaders and their band of advisors are looking to fix this broken mess called the global economy.
However, I’ve yet to read anything that looks like an attempt to build a new economic model. Instead, and in desperation, all we keep hearing about is how governments are pumping more and more ‘money’ into the fatally damaged system.
It seems a little like giving numerous blood transfusions to a critically ill patient without first finding out where the patient is bleeding from, nor attempting to stem the flow. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cogitating, Economy, Politics, Society | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »