Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mystery shopping and the customer experience

The year has started with several requests for mystery or secret shops. I could or should have expected it. Why? Because aside from being used for measuring quality, mystery shops are an excellent tool for developing customer experiences. And, the focus on unique customer experiences is increasing, also outside of the hospitality and entertainment industries.

While mystery shops are great for checking out the competitor, auditing prices, and checking the integrity of team members, I believe the thrust has been to measure quality and whether team members adhere to certain standards when providing service.

But now, companies are going a step further, to use mystery shops to help them develop a unique experience or to measure if they have been successful in providing the experience they sought to create.

An example: Some time ago I walked into the lobby of a hotel. One of the first things my eyes rested on was a garbage can: a clean, empty and neatly placed garbage can. In traditional mystery shops that would not necessarily be counted as a negative. After all, nothing was done wrong and nothing was filthy. But when trying to map (or create) the customer journey, it certainly will because who wants to have a view of a garbage can.

And, by the way, creating a unique experience is as easy in a small market and for a small business as it is in a large market and for big business.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Return on Marketing Investment in Small Markets

In 2006 I attended the Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) Seminar of the Institute on International Research in Fort Myers. I will be posting a bunch of ideas discussed at that seminar. This is the first.

For some time now “branding” has been a focus for many brand teams. But it’s being challenged by the quest for a responsible ROI, a pressure to achieve better returns on marketing spending. The statement that I most remember from the ROMI seminar was this:

Branding has value if it:
· Enables you to command a price premium
· Drives volume
· Increases the average lifetime value of your customers
· Or a combination of these
All with an acceptable ROI. That’s a serious challenge in markets as small as ours. How can we go about it?

  1. To understand how to face the challenge, we have to remind ourselves what a brand is. A brand is one word you own in the mind of the relevant consumer and which provides value to that consumer. The key words are: one word, ownership, value and the relevant consumer. Often, brand teams try to achieve ownership of that one word through advertising. This often involves highfixed costs (and therefore makes it harder to achieve an acceptable ROI). So, the larger the market, the better. But, what to do if you serve a small market?
  2. We must realize that advertising is not the only way to achieve ownership of that one word. There are more tools in a marketing mix which can be used to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.

So, we should ask ourselves the following questions.

  1. Are we unique (or different) in the way we: Conduct our direct selling, Manage and nurture our relationships, Provide customer care, Conduct our public relations, Are involved with our community, Price or distribute our products?
  2. Does this uniqueness provide value to the consumer, which in turn will provide revenues for us, in the short or long run?
  3. If we are not unique or different,is there a way we can be? In which area will this “uniqueness” provide the best return for us?

So, when you are next thinking about "branding", think further than "advertising"

I look forward to your comments.

Marketing and strategy for not-for-profits

There are now so many not-for-profit organizations, both governmental and otherwise, trying to raise funds, get members, attract “share of attention” of the same people. All are having a harder time doing so.

How can your organization stand out?
By taking the same strategy and marketing approach as successful businesses do.

Many years ago I developed the program “Charity is no longer” in an endeavor to share strategy and marketing thinking with not-for-profit organizations. I held presentations and workshops for, among others, the Rotary Club of Curacao and several chapters and national congress of the Jaycees International.

The issue recently came up again, inspiring me to revive that program in 2007.

In the session of your choice we can discuss your biggest challenges from a business point of view.

  • Attracting and retaining active board members and general members
  • New approaches to raising funds
  • How can the internet help you
  • Asking for and giving support other than money
  • Advertising your projects, programs, cause or club
  • What else can we do, where else can we help? Brainstorming for new project ideas
  • Capturing your ideas in a strategic plan

All topics can be tailored to your needs and delivered in Papiamento, English, Spanish or Dutch. Contact me at or (599-9) 767-3085.