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…where to spend the bucks!

A lightly edited excerpt from an article by Josh Elman appearing here. Though dated, the anecdote and the concept are still relevant, I thought. And for companies not merely in the product space. Here we go:

twitter-bird-white-on-blue

Pretty much every new app has the following problem: lots of people sign up but don’t stick around.

I frequently get asked what are benchmarks for retention after one day or one week. My answer tends to be the same for products in the early days:

Ignore the benchmarks. Find the patterns in the stories of people who do get your product. Figure out what converted them and got them so excited to keep using your product every day or every week. In the early days, your main focus should be to attract and create more and more of those “core users” who deeply use your product. Over time you can try to increase averages, but first, you just need a core and strong base.

Most people look too much at the “big data” and try to draw conclusions. In the early days of a product you have to talk to people. You need anecdotes much more than data. You could say The plural of anecdote is data.

To collect anecdotes, you have to talk to actual users. The best users to call are ones who can help you understand why they tried your product and what hooked them. I like to look for bouncebacks. Bouncebacks are users that have tried your product, bailed immediately and didn’t find it useful, came back to try again for some reason (at least 1 week later, or even better, 1 month later), and then got hooked.

The first step is to identify some bounceback users to call…

From these patterns, you can invest in revising your marketing and improving your product and onboarding. Revamp your messaging to focus more on the messages that brought people back and got them engaged. Update your product and onboarding to simplify whatever the users did the second time to get fully engaged…

We learned from early users that many of them signed up for Twitter and thought it was just a megaphone. When they had nothing to say, and didn’t otherwise understand the product they bailed. When they later heard about how valuable Twitter could be if they followed their reverend or the food truck that broadcasts its location every day, they came back and tried again. But this second time they specifically sought out people to follow and had a good experience. We rapidly rebuilt our onboarding to focus much more on following and finding the right people which caused significant increases in how many users were activated after signing up. We revised our messaging to talk much more about finding and following the right people on Twitter instead of talking about tweeting and broadcasting.

I recommend doing this exercise of interviewing new bounceback users every 6 months. You’ll learn a lot about how to keep improving your adoption and activation.

End

 

 

Source: Image from publiclibrariesonline.org

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Suveer Madapravan is feeling happy.

April 25 at 7:35pm ·

Today at Hyderabad airport…..

I was at the internet center using the (free) net service,

Spotted this lady with a kid in panic.

You guessed it right: she had missed a connecting flight, coming from Delhi to Hyderabad, proceeding onwards to Cochin. Wife of a navy officer based in Cochin, she used my phone and spoke to her husband as she didn’t have a mobile phone. I tried booking tickets and the price was Rs. 14,700 per ticket just then I saw Mr. Gavin, customer service officer from indigo and elaborated her story; in fact, he too was searching for her. I asked him if he could accommodate her in the next flight for which he said he would try and took her out of the boarding area to the Indigo ticket counter. I asked her if she required some money – she declined.

Then, I got back to the internet center, her husband calling me almost continuously and asking me to buy a ticket with the assurance he would transfer the amount to me without delay. But, I couldn’t connect with her as she had gone outside the boarding area. Was just upset I couldn’t do much and mentally stressed thinking what would have happened And started using the internet.

Just then I saw this lady coming back and thanking me…she gave me desi ghee laddoo and mixture.

indigo 1

I was so happy to see them settled and asked her how much did she pay for the tickets.

She said, ‘NOTHING.’

I was pleasantly surprised and happy that INDIGO recognized her as a navy officer’s wife and did the realignment free of cost.

I have heard people share a lot of bad experiences with Indigo executives…but, here is a HERO…Mr. Gavin, customer service officer who took all the responsibility and ensured a smooth arrangement.

Kudos to Indigo and Mr. Gavin. As I see it, Suveer too has been no less a hero either.

indigo 2

This incident brings up a key question not confined to Indigo:  Why can’t all – may be not all, but most – customer-facing employees be like Mr. Gavin?

I see a few factors responsible for this magic to (not) happen: a) Firstly s strong conviction from the top to do the right thing by the customer and not hesitate to walk an extra mile if situation demands b) strong communication, stretched to the point of indoctrination, of what the org stands for with frequent reinforcement, preferably practiced very visibly in live action,  and c) empowerment at the service end-points for showing sensitivity backed up by quick action

While on the subject of indoctrination, so well managed by the MNC’s, I’m reminded of a specific instance that serves to exemplify the point being made. Years ago, I think late seventies or early eighties, Hewlett-Packard was lagging behind everyone else in the field in announcing a 32-bit computer, something the Indian market clamored for. We faced stiff resistance wherever we went to talk about HP’s computers, the ones with 16-bit word-length. We had folks coming in from Palo Alto (International Sales), Hong Kong (Fare East HQ) to tell us and our prospects, thumping the table, how word-length did not matter at all in commercial data processing where data is basically 8 bits. In fact, shorter word-lengths yielded better results at times! Neither did we buy the argument, our customers, even less. Since there was no 32-bit product in HP’s stable, we were forced to push ahead in the field whatever we had, on the back of those arguments we didn’t believe in. Needless to add we were completely disheartened with so few wins.

Some months passed. A team, no strangers, came down from Palo Alto grinning ear-to-ear to break it to us.  This time it was a you-asked-for-it-and-here-it-is 32-bit computer, made available for sale in the Indian market! Along with it came a new set of arguments – all of it old hat to us – how a 32-bit machine out-zips machines with shorter word-lengths (never mind there was hardly any of its kind in the market), all from the same executives spoken with the same conviction! I didn’t think for a moment they were being dishonest. It was more like ‘my company says now this is an innovative product that outperforms 16-bits and it must be so.’ Some innovation, indeed!

That’s indoctrination for you. Am sure if one asked any HP employee in any of its factories or from any of its far-flung field-offices across continents, they would speak the same words! Contrast it with an Indian organization, where every employee proudly has his own views on his company, its values and its products and speaks about it freely. And that’s why not all of them can never ever be Mr. Gavin.

Indigo, not all is lost yet…indoctrinate…indoctrinate…indoctrinate thought, speech and action…the way to go.

 

End

 

 

PS: HP reckoned its new product a success over its lifetime – I’m sure they had the numbers to back up. Though it did not exactly set any river on fire, no books were written about it, as far as I know. An epic  let-down for die-hard’s like me. However, it was a certainly bold step for HP, perhaps the first among its peers,  to embrace Unix over proprietary software for its mid-range and mini-computers. Staying with proprietary software was cited by many industry pundits as a reason for the downfall of the legendary Vax machines and the eventual demise of DEC.

Source: vide Gopalakrishna Sunderrajan in fb.

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The simple answer is you don’t.

Imagine the following retail scenario. You discover beautiful piece of furniture only to find that it is a “one of a kind”. You discover where you can order one only to find out that it could take 4 to 6 months to receive your order. So, how does this retailer manage to survive in the age of free two day shipping? Salt Creek Farmhouse is an example of a vertical furniture retail shop that has found ways to develop customer relationships to thrive in an omnichannel world. Retail survival requires transformation to new paradigms. Lesson 1 starts with focusing on doing what the giants are not doing.

” 

And what are they doing right?

An extract (lightly edited for brevity) from Chris Peterson’s take on SCF’s success story interspersed with an occasional comment from me within <..>:

 Five lessons from Salt Creek Farmhouse

  1. Telling your story is as important as the products you sell

In the age of mass merchants, much of retail lost its “soul”. Stores merely became places to sell products. SCF is a small business and retail shop with a great story that creates a unique brand identity and differentiation for their products <though “Our Story” could do with more romance in there, I thought>

  1. Engage your customers to help tell your story

Far too many retailers use social media as another way to advertise products and promote sales. One of the most powerful aspects of visual social media like Instagram the new word-of-mouth   is having customers posting photos of how they are using products in their homes…To quote SCF’s Instagram page: “Lovely pieces should come with a lovely story.

  1. When you can’t compete on price, compete on value and personalization

…SCF competes on quality art and workmanship that people still value. They also create personal relevance by designing things for customers, and pieces that you cannot purchase everywhere…<Just imagine what a draw these pieces would be in your rooms>

  1. Know your customers and go where they are shopping

For SCF’s products that would get lost and never be found in the millions of SKUs of an retail giant, Etsy was a perfect digital place in the company of other similar artisan style stores therein…core customers could organically search for products like theirs on Etsy. It is more important to be where your customers are, than to be on sites or in stores with the most traffic.

       5. Lack of inventory can be managed as an asset

…SCF literally carries almost no inventory. In order to sell pieces as they build them, they focus on other value propositions of customization and exclusivity as opposed to the old paradigm of “mass merchandising”. It also requires developing an intimate relationship with customers who appreciate quality and service beyond the expected and are quite willing to wait for months to get what they want!…

End

 

 

Source: Chris’s article appears here.

 

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Wilson runs a nail factory and decides his business needs a bit of advertising.

He has a chat with a friend who works in marketing, and he offers to make a television ad for Wilson’s Nails.
“Give me a week,” says the friend, “and I’ll be back with a tape.”
A week goes by and the marketing executive comes to see Wilson.
He puts a cassette in the video and presses play. A Roman soldier is busy nailing Jesus to the cross.
He turns to face the camera and says with a grin, “Use Wilson’s Nails, they’ll hold anything.”
Wilson goes mad, shouting, “What is the matter with you? They’ll never show that on television. Give it another try, but no more Romans crucifying Jesus!”
Another week goes by and the marketing man comes back to see Wilson with another tape. He puts it in the machine and hits play.
This time the camera pans out from a Roman standing with his arms folded to show Jesus on the cross.
The Roman looks up at him and says, “Wilson’s Nails, they’ll hold anything.”
Wilson is beside himself. “You don’t understand. I don’t want anything with Jesus on the cross! Now listen, I’ll give you one last chance. Come back in a week with an advertisement that I can broadcast.”
A week passes and Wilson waits impatiently. The marketing executive arrives and puts on the new video.
A naked man with long hair, gasping for breath, is running across a field. About a dozen Roman soldiers come over the hill, hot on his trail.
One of them turns to the camera and says, “If only we had used Wilson’s Nails!”

 

End

 

 

Source: santabanta.com

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Well, that’s what Burger King did, we learn. Here’s the story put out by Trend-Watching:

whopper

On McDonald’s yearly ‘McHappy Day’, the brand donates proceeds from sales of Big Macs to aid children with cancer. On November 10th, Burger King in Argentina contributed to its competitor’s cause. Every Burger King in the country refused to sell Whoppers and redirected customers to McDonald’s so they could buy a Big Mac instead (thereby aiding McDonald’s charitable initiative). Though Burger King’s campaign was a bit cheeky – customers were told to go to the ‘place where they don’t flame-grill their burgers’ – they did help their competitor sell more burgers than they ever had on McHappy Day. And McDonald’s even thanked its rival off-the-record.

Burger King took this opportunity to showcase two sides of its brand personality. Firstly, it proved its empathy and selflessness by sacrificing its own sales to support a charitable effort. How could anyone not get behind that? Secondly, the brand put on a massive show of confidence. Because what it’s saying to customers (without saying it) is, “we’re fine sending you to McDonald’s, because you will like our burger more and you will come back!”

And yes, this is a marketing stunt. But what a stunt. Think about it: Burger King stopped selling their flagship product for entire day, at all its stores in Argentina (109, to be exact), then they directed hungry customers to a competitor! Kudos to whoever was brave enough to pitch this idea…

That’s what a brand story is all about!

End

 

 

 

Source: Trend-Watching, a site that makes interesting observations on what happens in very diverse fields.

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small-term-investment-plans

 

My passion of collecting anecdotes and experiences was unexpectedly rewarded today with a very unusual story. Here it goes:

Amit works for an old, respectable and conservative financial-services organization, helping people with investment counselling and management in certain parts of Mumbai city as well as rural Maharashtra.

On one of his cold-calling visits, he meets up with a prospect in one of the smaller towns.

Whatever else, rural folks, you’d know if you’ve dealt with them, are quite sharp in their assessment of whom they’re interacting with.  So, when Amit introduces himself and his org and explains the purpose of his visit, this man hears him out patiently, asks a few questions and finally says:

‘Look young man, all this is fine. I have heard about your org. No issues there. But I don’t know you at all. You pop up suddenly before me from nowhere and expect me to discuss my finances with you? You’ve no references that I know of, to recommend you.’

Amit digs into his bag.

‘Don’t bother showing me your customer letters. Unless it’s from some one I know, I trust…’

Amit pitches all that he has learnt in his training and all that he had collected from the field over the years.

From the look on the man’s face and the body language, he knows he isn’t making any headway.

And finally:

He pulls out his cell-phone, not one of those fancy ones, and says: ‘Sir, take this. Pls call these people and check,’ reeling out a few names. ‘And ask them how long I’ve been calling them…from this phone.’

The man shakes his head, almost sympathizing with the youngster: ‘How does it help?’

‘Sir, they’ll confirm it to you – for the last 7-8 years, I’ve been calling them from this phone, from the very same number.’

The man says: ‘I’m not sure where you’re going with this, my friend.’

‘Could I be holding onto the same number for so long, Sir, without doing right by my customers? Doesn’t happen with most guys in our profession; they change their numbers often and perhaps jobs too – like they’re erasing and escaping from their past…’

Amit waits for his words to sink in.

They find their mark at last.

The man’s gaze is fixed on Amit as he rests his case. Well, maybe the lad has a point…

With some more effort, he becomes Amit’s customer and remains one till this date.

 

I’ve no problem confessing it would have never occurred to me…

I hope this is now added to the org’s lore to be shared with its employees.

 

End

 

PS: So, what’s it with your investment advisor?

As a man out on the field meeting people and people, I’m sure he has many more stories under his belt. Let me see…if I can tease a few more out of him.

  

Source: besttermplan.in/short-term-investment-plans/

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From Steven S Reeves in here:

Magic Pen

(lightly edited for readability and conciseness)

Stories from the frontline selling are often are counter intuitive and funny, or at least ironic. They entertain, and educate, but aren’t always true. This one is true, and it goes like this. This story about the salesman’s magic pen illustrates how the smallest detail, or idea, can make a big difference in any sale.

John was intrigued. At this first meeting with Steve, he noticed the pen in his shirt pocket. A pen wasn’t unusual, of course, but this one was. John recognised the logo on the pen clip. He had one just like it himself. Those pens were gifted to prospects and customers by Steve’s fiercest competitor.

Steve represented one of the two hardware companies dominating the Unix server market. John was in the process of choosing a hardware supplier for the new database project. He’d already met with, and been impressed by, the other company. That was how he’d been given his pen. He didn’t understand how Steve would get hold of one, and especially couldn’t figure why he’d be advertising his competition.

The question had to be asked.  Why was Steve showing that pen?

Steve smiled, shyly.  He’d need to tell the story of how he came by it.

John already knew the competitor was eating Steve’s company’s lunch, winning just about every deal in the market. The business had professional sales people, a strong product line, and management refusing to lose new opportunities under any circumstances.

But that wasn’t the story of how Steve got the pen.

He’d been one side of the usual punch up over a new server sale, and in trouble. Despite proving his hardware was superior, and persuading management to let him offer an eye watering price, he still wasn’t winning. The other side was determined not to lose, and offered to supply it’s server for free, just to stop Steve’s company winning a deal, any deal.

Instead of giving up, He decided to stay in the game and fight. Cutting a long story short, Steve won the deal based on functionality, service, and a reasonable price, against the opposition’s free of charge.

At the meeting scheduled to finalise the contract, Steve’s new customer used the pen, given to him by the competitor, to sign the paper.  This was too big an opportunity to miss.  Steve wanted that pen as a trophy.  He offered to exchange his own gold-plated pen for the cheap plastic logo pen which had been used to sign the contract.  His customer readily agreed, happily joining in the joke.

Steve left the meeting with a signed contract, and what was to become his magic pen.

John chuckled at the story. Later he’d find out why that buyer had chosen to pay for a server when the alternative was available for free. Right now he still didn’t know why Steve was displaying the pen in his pocket. So he asked again.

This time the response was a broad smile. Steve carried the logo pen in his shirt pocket because, at every first meeting, his new prospects would ask why he was displaying the pen. Then he’d get to tell the story, of how his customer preferred to pay for Steve’s server, rather than have the competitors product for free.

Showing the pen in his shirt pocket caught the attention of potential customers.  They asked the question, and, as a result of hearing the story, realised they needed to seriously consider what Steve was saying about the strengths of his company and product.

The small detail of a plastic pen made a very big difference, bringing Steve more business his way and job promotions.

Do we need to add the competitor tried to recruit Steve several times?  Maybe it wanted it’s pen back?

End

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