People are Joining and Fleeing Facebook at the Same Time

We’ve all heard the astounding numbers from comScore of how Facebook attracted 87.7 million unique visitors in the US in July, but what is too often neglected is the small but noticeable size group of online users fleeing from Facebook. This post in the NY Times shows us a different side that we are not used to seeing from Facebook… the quitters.

Some of the reasons the post describes why people are leaving the famed social networking site is the fear of stalkers, how the site makes them “nosy”, how the scene has turned desperate, and how some believe that their privacy has been compromised. Even though Facebook seems to be on top of its game now, it can not forget about all the above mentioned points, unless it plans to become a ghost town in the near future.

Knowing Your Target Market: Radio Shack Rebrands to The Shack

Chris Brown of writes about the recent re-branding of Radio Shack to The Shack.

She writes, “I just can’t believe that they dropped Radio to keep Shack. Actually, Radio isn’t that great either. Why not abbreviate it to something like RS. Wonder if they did any research at all?”

What sort of market research went into changing the popular electronic retailer’s name?

Knowing Your Target Market: Radio Shack Rebrands to The Shack

Customers 1st 2009 Podcasts: A Conversation with Deb Nelson, Hewlett-Packard

As we get gear up for the 2009 NACCM: Customers 1st Event this year, we’re going to be interviewing and getting to know the speakers and sponsors who will bring their perspectives on customer service to you. We recently sat down with Deb Nelson, the Senior Vice President of Marketing, Technology Solutions Group, Hewlett-Packard, and is responsible for worldwide marketing of HP’s services, software, servers, storage, and networking. She will be presenting her keynote speech, “Preparing for Customer-Centricity 2020: How to Evolve the People, the Process & Technology to Meet Future Needs,” on Thursday, November 5. Download the NACCM:Customers 1st Brochure to find out more about the program this year.

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Deborah Nelson is responsible for worldwide marketing of HP’s services, software, servers, storage, and networking. She leads marketing across five global business units to deliver technology solutions that help medium-size and enterprise organizations achieve better business outcomes.

Previously Deb was responsible for world wide marketing of HP’s personal computers, work stations, hand held products, and mobile and wireless solutions. Deb has held a broad range of marketing positions over her 20 year career. Her experience spans management of software, service, hardware products, channels, and partners, marketing communication, marketing research and business development in HP’s America and European Gail and worldwide organization.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your roll at HP.

Deb: So, as you may know, HP sells technology and technology solutions to consumers and businesses around the globe. In fact, just over a billion people around the world use our technology every single day. I am lucky enough to run marketing for HP’s enterprise business and we sell to businesses and governments around the globe. Our portfolio is a combination of business and IT services. This means different support services, consulting and outsourcing, as well as software, particularly around helping customers better manage their IT processes as well as information. And then a number of products ranging from servers to storage and networking.

What changes have had the biggest impact on customer centricity over the past few years? What do you think will change the most in the future?
Deb: Today, technology plays a fundamentally different roll in business. Technology today isn’t just supporting the business, but powering the business. Think about any business process whether you’re taking an order, replenishing inventory, even communication. It’s all powered by technology. And that means that today our customers, so CIOs, Chief Information Officers and their teams, they’re not just running IT projects, but they’re running business initiatives. They’re not just managing silos of applications and operations and strategies. They’re really managing and integrated IT platform that drives business change. That means that they need to measure technology results by the ability to either accelerate a company’s growth to help lower costs, something everyone is really interested in right now, or mitigate risks. And that means technology decisions today are really business decisions.

Now for the future, we think that customers will have even more choices about how to get accesses to different business services. And we refer to this trend as ‘Everything as a service.’ And that means that anything from just raw computing power to a business process to personal interactions, I mean, think about your consumer life, whether that’s email or other services that you get out of the cloud. That everything will be available to you whenever and however you want it. That means that customers will get to choose based on the best value. And therefore understanding and really anticipating customer needs and preference are will be very very critical.

Why is it so important for a company to have two way communications with their customers today? How has this relationship changed?
Deb:In today’s environment, we are lucky to have so many options to have a two-way dialog with customers. It’s not mass communications environments of previous decades. Today the explosion of media channels really gives the ability to have a true two-way dialog with customers. We don’t have to guess what customers want anymore, they’ll tell us. Social media has given us so many more listening points that where we can get feedback and have interactions with customers. This means it’s really critical for any organization to be enthusiastically engaged with all of their stakeholders and be a part of these dialogues going on. In fact, for us, we know that our target audience the enterprise business it buyers are actually some of the most active users of social media. We actually did research with Forrester that looked at all the different roles that people play in social media. And they said that our customers are actually off the chart as far as social participation, whether it’s someone who is creating content, so publishing a blog or publishing our own webpages, all the way up to one who is just reading and accessing information through this wide plethora of media we have. So at HP, we’re responding to our customer’s adoption of this exciting set of new social media and we’re changing how we engage with our customers whether that’s through different online interactions, blogs and podcasts such as this. We’re changing how we buy media, we’re changing the breadth of people that are participating in that so that we have the folks inside of HP that customer want to talk to like our technical engineers and presales folks. (This is so these employees can ) directly interact with customer about the technology and our technology solutions. And our goal is to have business conversations that lead to business.

Tell us a little about what you’ll be presenting at NACCM this year.
Deb: My talk is about preparing for customer centricity over the next couple of decades. And I’ll share some ideas about what you can do today to help get people, processes and technology ready for whatever the future brings. As a part of this, (I’ll be speaking about) deploying effective strategies for listening to customer and communicating with them in ways that meet their needs now and in the future. And I’ll talk about what a company needs to focus on to achieve customer satisfaction and loyalty, which has changed rather dramatically over the last five years, and will continue to change. Before, in our space, quality, deliverability and reliability were the number one drivers of customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. But today, these are really just the anites to enter into the game. So I’ll talk about what HP is doing to increase and measure customer loyalty. And finally, I’ll discuss some of the things we’ve learned at HP about when and how to stick to business basics and when to embrace new methods and technology to maintain a strong customer focus.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Deb: It’s been a pleasure talking to you Jenny, and HP is a whole company that is really focused on delivering great experiences to customers. In today’s environment, we have a lot more tools to do that and to be able to have a two-way dialogue. I often hear about how some organizations feel threatened by social media, or feel that it’s a risky journey. But we really view it in a different way. We think it’s a super opportunity to be engaged real time to find out what’s on customers minds. And I’m really excited about speaking at the Customers 1st Conference in November, and it’ll be a great opportunity for me to hear from others to hear about what they’re doing to be engaged with customers.

We’d like to thank Deb Nelson for speaking with us today and a very special thank you to our listeners. Be sure to follow us on Twitter at

See you in November!

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It’s harder to hold on to today’s customers

Mike Linton of Forbes recently commented on the difficulty that is keeping customers for your business. We all know that it’s far easier to keep customers you currently have rather than acquire new ones.

However Linton makes the point that as long as you have a brand that stays relevant and listen to customers needs. He also points out that it’s important to stay relevant in your customers mind when it comes to value and pricing.

Everyone is hurting today in this economy. How are you ensuring that your customers are going to receive the best price and value from you?

The ‘Greying’ of Social Media

From our post yesterday looking at a not-so surprising article in yesterday’s NY Times, Who’s Driving Twitter’s Popularity? Not Teens, which looks at the popular growth of some of the latest social media in the last few months, specifically, Twitter; I thought I’d add my 2-cents. As we noted, they supply some interesting data from comScore including that just 11% of Twitter users are between the ages of 12 to 17. Overwhelmingly, Twitter users are an older segment of the population and as Forrester Research notes in the article, people aged 35 to 54 using social media grew 60 percent in the last year.

Shocking? Hardly. Over at Mashable they’ve highlighted this in their coverage of the NY Times piece here, and had written about this just a few weeks ago. In the NY Times piece they highlight a couple of obvious reasons why, first, that the nature of the technology, much more public than social networks like Facebook, is less enticing to teens who are more comfortable interacting and sharing with their friends rather than random strangers coming across their streams. This in turn, looking at it from a professional perspective, offers adults a means to find interesting and useful topics and discussions relevant to their interests.

But very simply as a segment of the population, the ‘Teens’ demographic overwhelmingly uses social media/networking compared to other age groups. In a sheer numbers comparison, there’s not many more users to attract to the technology while other age groups, all you have is room to grow. In fact, in the case of Twitter, that may be what will eventually happen for 12-17 subset of users. But for me, what is fascinating is how fast the comfort level is rising in the adoption and ongoing usage of social media by older users – not so much that they are leading the charge in using technology, but rather its overall importance as a tool among many tools they use. In the past, in the early days of the dot com boom and bust, web usage was still highly segmented. For social media today, its usage overall is beginning to top even the frequency users access their emails:
In fact in a follow-up piece on their technology blog, BITS, they look at this growing adoption and usage by older demographics, citing recent Forrester reports and data. Clearly, as a communication and interaction medium this growth in usage by older segments of the population raises some questions. For marketers, particular brand managers, the hope that the power of tv, radio and other traditional mediums to influence purchasing decisions will somehow remain strong is increasingly questionable. Why? Well, looking at advertising dollars and ROI through those mediums seems shaky at best. I’m sure any media buyer out there would say not so, but I am biased. And as we pointed out this week, clearly marketers see the numbers and the level of adoption by all age groups and customer segments, and its not a question of should we use social media, but when.But looking past marketing, the impact of social media on the business landscape raises even more questions. How does it impact customer service, if increasingly customers feel they are able to get better and faster responses via social media a la Twitter, case in point, Comcast and Southwest Airlines to name a few. How might it impact product development, market research, sales, etc, etc. Of course, I may be simply preaching to the choir.But then again, every time I work with direct marketers and product managers in certain industries, I continue to hear, well our audience just isn’t that tech savvy. When I hear that, my eyes glaze over and mind drifts away and I think, for your sake, I hope it’s true.

Sponsor Spotlight: Chadwick Martin Bailey

Today, we’ll continue looking at the companies who are participating in The Market Research Event. Today, we’re featuring Chadwick Martin Bailey.

Chadwick Martin Bailey provides custom marketing research that helps leading companies solve their most challenging business problems and attack their best opportunities. Specializing in segmentation, brand, sponsorship/event ROI, customer experience, product development, and employee research, we focus on identifying the specific actions our clients can take to get, keep, and grow customers.

Hear more from Chadwick Martin Bailey and other leaders in market research at The Market Research Event this October 18-21 in Las Vegas!

Verizon tools help you fix FiOS yourself

The reports today that Verizon has implemented tools to help customers fix their FiOS services themselves.
The New York-based telecom unveiled its Verizon In-Home Agent, a computer program subscribers can download to help them trouble their own television or Internet connections without having to call the company’s customer service. The application, which for now is only compatible with the Windows operating system, gives users the ability to run the same troubleshooting applications technical service agents run when customers call them. In addition, the program can help users set up their Wi-Fi connections, configure e-mail accounts, set up voice mail.Will Verizon fix its customer service woes by allowing customers to fix things on their own–or will it be more of a disaster for the telecommunications giant?

Speakers of TMRE 2009: Dean Macko, Hyundai Motor America

In the weeks leading up to The Market Research Event 2009, we’re going to be hearing from the speakers of The Market Research Event. This week we have Dean Macko, Hyundai Motor America, who will be presenting “Hyundai’s Evolving Emotional Connection With Consumers,” in the Insight Driven Innovation Track on Tuesday, October 20, 2009. To learn more about The Market Research Event, download the brochure here!

1. Tell us about a project you are working on or recently completed that you are proud of?
Macko: We are just putting the finishing touches on a fantastic new segmentation here at Hyundai that exceeded all expectations. Not only is our target segment consistent with our brand direction, but if you plot current Hyundai owners on the map according to whether they bought for the right reasons (up and coming brand, quality just as good as the Japanese) vs. the wrong reasons (price, deal), the pattern points almost directly at our target segment!

2. Think ahead 5 years, what major changes for MR/Consumer Insights do you see?
Macko: I expect to see more behavioral research. We are looking at doing large-scale copytesting soon, and the techniques out there are mind boggling. I think Marketers are looking for better answers out of how an ad performs than what can be captured via surveys, so we are talking with cutting-edge companies that are scanning the brain, recording eye vacillations, facial coding, eye tracking, etc. to monitor advertising response. In the end, a hybrid approach is where I’d want to end up.

3. What inspired you to get in the field? What keeps you motivated?
Macko: The work continues to be fascinating, especially for a rising brand like Hyundai. Looking ahead, this field can take you down many paths. These analytical skills can take you into Strategic Planning, Advertising, Brand Strategy, CRM, etc. It’s a great tool to have in the kit, and who doesn’t like getting their hands dirty in a bit of data to uncover that little pearl of wisdom!

Why are Teens Anti-Twitter?

There’s been buzz this week about the rejection of Twitter by teens. And Jeff Bertolucci of PCWorld asks, “Just how uncool is Tweeting?” Bertolucci writes that according to ComScore, only 11 percent of Twitter users are aged 12 to 17, the New York Times reports.

Bertolucci thinks that the reason teens aren’t down with Twitter may be because its too public, whilst texting allows for more privacy.

What do you think?

4 Lessons in Customer Service

This post in the Online Business Advisor details a few lessons learned from a recent stop at a store while searching for a laptop. Customer service in the online realm shouldn’ t be different just because you are not in the customers physical presence. Reviews of bad customer service can float very quickly now with the social web age. So here are a few lessons learned that all businesses should take seriously.

1. It’s important to know when customers want to buy. There should always be a point in your site that can get consumers easily back to the shopping cart, and it should be easy to navigate to as well.
2. Customers should not be aimlessly searching your site. There should be easy navigation, a clear call to action, and prominent offers should be visible.

3. Make sure to offer alternative to consumers and that they alternatives are easy to find.
4. The web doesn’t close, its a 24/7 business so even if you’re not around there should at least be a FAQ page with commonly asked questions and answers to help consumers when they are stuck.