Posts tagged ‘Business to Business’

What Apple’s Maps Experience Teaches

The introduction of the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 went relatively well, with one notable exception – many people are up in arms about the quality of Apple’s new maps software. Withering criticism has been heaped upon the company. Here is the New York TimesDavid Pogue. Here is The Wall Street Journal’s and All Things D’s Walt Mossberg. You know it is bad when a Tumblr blog has been created lampooning your software’s shortcomings. Yikes.

What does a company do in the face of such a maelstrom?

We previously chronicled Netflix’s botched rollout of a separate DVD-only service called “Quikster.”  However, Apple’s move is different in that they can’t just create a system update that reverts back to Google Maps – which previously came pre-loaded on iPhones and iPads. Doing so would: a) defeat the business rationale for creating a maps app; b) admit that a competitor is flat-out better than they are at something; and c) provide Google with leverage – should they even allow such a move – to force Apple either into an exclusivity pact or to provide additional concessions.

Still, Apple’s maps stink.

Today CEO Tim Cook admitted that the company blew it. He even apologized, saying he is “extremely sorry.” This is from an AP article:

“While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.”

It is a bold move for a company to mention, let alone outright endorse, competitors. However, as a PR move, this may prove extremely shrewd. Apple’s famously loyal customer base may appreciate Cook’s honesty and give the company some time to get this app right.

A key lesson, and one that applies to professional services companies as well, is that if you truly have botched something – oftentimes honesty is, as the cliché goes, the best policy. One of the worst things a company can do is stand their ground and remain tone deaf to their customers as they get pummeled by criticism.

These words can go a long way in preserving relationships:

We are truly sorry. We will fix the issue. In the meantime, here is what we can do for you.

Michael Bond

September 28, 2012 at 10:44 pm 1 comment

Creating Value – Lessons Learned from a Summer of Craigslistist

As the parent of three boys, my household has accumulated a lot of STUFF! As such, at the beginning of the summer, I made it my project to de-clutter the house through the use of Craigslist.

In doing so, I picked up a number of valuable marketing reminders that will help with my fall project (more de-cluttering), and these nuggets are not just limited to my household, they apply to professional service firms, as well.

Value

  • No matter the cost, value needs to be perceived. Customers on Craigslist aren’t shopping for deals or making impulse buys, they are investing time and resources to find a product they need. In a similar fashion, clients are reaching out to your firm based on the value you offer. It is important that firms reinforce this through their marketing efforts and all communication channels, which bring us to the next point . . .

Presentation

  • Value is perceived based on how your firm is presented. If I post a photo of the item I’m selling on Craigslist, potential customers can see the value first-hand. Printed materials, websites, social media, e-mails, etc. – they all need to present your firm’s value proposition. Imagine a website for an architectural firm without renderings, or a law firm’s RFP without any mention of the attorney’s expertise. The result would be potential clients  going to competitor that has actually demonstrated value.

Competitive Analysis

  • I once posted an item that cost quite a bit more than three others were offering. My bad! I didn’t research the going price on Craigslist, and in turn, my item didn’t sell. Professional firms are no different than any other business. You need to keep an eye on your competition and what they are offering. Doing so can reinforce your efforts to create value or inspire new methods of attracting and retaining clients.

Timely Response

  • We live in an era of immediate gratification. This was reinforced when I took a day or two to respond to questions about my posted items. By the time I returned the correspondence, the potential customer had already moved on to someone else or another product. The same is true for clients. It’s highly likely your professional firm has built its value on client service. This needs to be supported by timely responses to inquiries. If not, the client may find solutions elsewhere.

Communication

  • In completing my summer project, I was constantly amazed by the number of people that responded to my post with a message requesting a call. It’s the Internet, shouldn’t all communication be electronic? I quickly came to realize that my potential customers were not luddites and instead only wanted to know who they were purchasing from. It was part of their perceived value – you don’t want to buy something from someone you don’t like. In the same vein, professional service firms need to maintain regular communication to not only build value but to create a relationship.

While my summer project is over, the lessons learned serve as good reminders. As we interact with those looking to purchase an item from Craigslist or attract a new client, we need to remember the importance of value. And speaking of value, if you are looking for some gently use children items, find me on Craigslist.

–          Chuck Brown

 

September 14, 2012 at 6:20 pm 1 comment

What’s Going on in your Patch?

There has lot of grumbling about the imminent demise of newspapers.  You can scope out all the latest casualties here

On the flipside, there are many exciting developments that suggest news reporting in new and different forms is here to stay.

At the community level, Patch is one of the more interesting and innovative developments.

Patch is giving voice to underserved, but significant (15 – 100K population), suburban markets that are generally overlooked by the major metro dailies (that it, if the market still is one).  They’re doing it online, encouraging active community participation and giving back through their “Give 5” program.

Cheers to the talented team of publishers, editors and reporters who saw fit to evolve and innovate.  And another shout out to the local, on-the-ground teams across the country charged with starting up their community Patch sites.

But this is a business-to-business blog, so why should professional services providers care about these hyper-local, community-centric online publications?  Because this is the future of news and information delivery. 

Pick a city and check out the “Who’s who” profiles.  This is an opportunity to let the Little League parents know that, despite your fanatical screams for the Pony Padres every Saturday, all week you’re a mild-mannered expert in interstate taxation issues.  Are you a green architect who wants to showcase your services and work with like-minded folks with the potential to refer business your way?  Check out the volunteer opportunities to steer local school and library greening programs. 

In recent weeks, my office has had reason to coordinate with two different Patch editions.  In both instances, there were fatal accidents in the local area, and attorneys were working to find witnesses to help sort out what actually occurred.  The Wall Street Journal just isn’t very effective for this purpose.  Of course, there are highly targeted advertising opportunities to be had, as well.  Patch is an easily accessible information resource unlike any the majority of smaller communities has ever known.

Remember, every media outlet – from CNN to The Recorder to the El Cerrito Patch to your personal Facebook page (yes, it counts) – appeals to a different audience and speaks to that audience in a different voice and style.  So beware of thinking the neighborly tone of your local Patch allows for less-than-professional participation. Working with media remains all about awareness of the differences in these communication tools and delivering appropriate messages in a manner that is going to resonate and reflect well on you and your affiliated organizations. 

–          Traci Stuart

January 28, 2011 at 10:25 pm 2 comments


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