Becoming Gatekeepers: How Old Media Can Leverage Brand Trust

28 11 2007

“This is art? My 4 year old could paint this”

Any person that has ever walked into a museum, especially of the modern/contemporary variety, has no doubt uttered an iteration of these words. Lets face it, art is an ambiguous concept and us laymen goto museums because people that know far more than us about the art world carefully curate the pieces that are displayed. They are our filters to the art world, and I would say 95% of the art I am exposed to is in museums. Of course, aficionados have expanded circles of exposure beyond museums such as galleries, art shows, artist friends, publications, books, etc.

The art world is a great metaphor for today’s media landscape because for the same reasons that we allow curators to filter our peek into the vast artistic realm, we allow media outlets such as Vogue, CNN, BusinessWeek, etc. to filter our fashion dos & don’ts, world news, and business thinking. The answer? Trust.

As productive people we often don’t have the time to waddle through 3000+ blog posts a day so we either trust other bloggers like Robert Scoble to filter news for us, or let it bubble up to mainstream trade publications and news sources. To further clarify, just like in the art world the hardcore among us read everything ourselves and conduct our own filtering, but that is merely because our egos tell us that we are the best curators for our information, which sometimes can be true as no one else knows what information you deem most relevant.

So, what is this holy grail that I speak of?

Well the most trusted media sources are offline entities, although they may have online components. Therefore, they are in a position to leverage their clout to become online filters for their area of expertise. For example Vogue should reach out to fashion bloggers, allow them to become affiliates that they can sell ads for, and create a mini-portal where they aggregate posts they feel are most relevant for their readers on their site. It’s a win-win situation: Bloggers get better CPMs and more exposure, and Vogue becomes a gatekeeper and increases their online ad revenue. I spoke about topic-centric vertical ad networks in my previous post and in my opinion these old media powerhouse names are best positioned to take advantage of this new trend.



Is the Customer Always Right?

23 10 2007

The quick answer: No they are often wrong, but what can you do about it?

We have all heard the adage that apparently originated at Marshall Fields around the turn of the century. However, as anyone who has ever worked in a service or retail job is intimately familiar, the customer can be obnoxious, ridiculous, and sometimes even a little bit insane.

Well according to Debra Brede, an investment adviser and owner of five-person D.K. Brede Investment Management, we should simply fire the customer. Here’s the full BusinessWeek article: Why, When, and How to Fire That Customer

Furthermore, the Chief Happiness Officer blog provides us is a well written list of the top 5 reasons why the customer is wrong:

1: It makes employees unhappy
2: It gives abrasive customers an unfair advantage
3: Some customers are bad for business
4: It results in worse customer service
5: Some customers are just plain wrong

Check out the original article for further elaboration on the points.

Firing customers is not a solution, it is avoidance of the problem.

No offense to those who live in the world of finance, but you cannot capture the value of a customer in an equation. It is not a matter of they are worth X and cost us Y; Y > X = Fire ’em.

Here are three key insights into difficult consumers:

1. They aren’t all bad:

At times I would consider myself a bad customer; however, I am almost always provoked by terrible service. Yesterday I was at Circuit City in Union Square here in New York and I was looking for a specific computer cable, but I got the run around and after 25 minutes I lost my patience and dug into an employee, in retrospect more than I should have, but I was serviced immediately. Looking back, could I have just started off angry and saved 25 min? This type of situation trains a customer that the only way to get decent service to raise your voice a bit. On the other hand since retail service is usually sub par, I always take the time to thank employees when they do a good job.

2. Take some time to listen:

Instead of just writing people off, listen to them. The reason they are angry could very well be justified. Listen to them, and try to fix the problem together. You can learn a lot.

3. Really bad customers, can be really bad for business

I will admit that some customers are just nasty and walk in looking for a fight, but the number of customers that are beyond reproach is very small. Most people come around if you give them a little respect. For the ones that are adamantly *%#@(‘s, well just deal with them. They are few and far between and you don’t want them on a vendetta against your establishment as they can drive away a whole lot more business than what the ‘equation’ can account for.