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What customers want, when they want it

I’ve talked in the past about the Three Rs of Internet Marketing—being real, relevant, and responsive. They apply to real-world marketing, too, which was brought home to me early this morning as I schlepped toward my hotel room at 3 am after a long evening of two delayed plane flights. What would be relevant to me at this point?


Right. A bed.
When I entered the room, however, I could not find a bed. It actually wasn’t a room—it was a suite. There was a kitchen, a dining room, a living room—it was really impressive—but no bed. Could there be another room? In my addled state, it took a few minutes to find the handle on the wall that pulled down the big bed. And I had to move chairs and a heavy cofee table that had one of those heavy unattached tops to make room for the bed.
Oh, and I cared about one other thing. I wanted Internet access so I could send an e-mail to my wife telling her that I had arrived OK. Calling at 3 am is not cool, so I tend to use e-mail in that situation.
So I had to find the Internet connection. There was no desk in the room, but I finally found the wire hanging out of a wall near a little table in the corner. I fired up my laptop and was presented two choices of what kind of Internet access I wanted—I didn’t really understand the difference between them, so I chose the cheaper one. I had to fill out a long registration form and finally got access.
Except it didn’t work. I got the dreaded “Page not found” for everything I tried. So, I looked for the phone number for technical support, wondering if there would be anyone there at 3 am. I comforted myself by thinking, “Hey, if they are in India, it’s the middle of the day.”
But the phone number was out of service. I ended up digging a phone cable out of my bag and sending the e-mail using my modem.
And it started me wondering about the way we do marketing. All the nice stuff, the dining room table and the couches and the kitchen were all wasted on me because they weren’t relevant to my experience of staying in a hotel for a few hours. The two things I really wanted were more painful than they had to be. All the money they spent was wasted on me and I ended up a bit frustrated about my stay.
To the hotel’s credit, the next day they were genuinely concerned, cheerfully credited my account, and noted the problem I had. I fully expect them to follow up and fix it. So they passed the real and responsive tests. But more and more, it might make sense for us to focus on what we think people expect. I didn’t need a suite. I called the hotel and told them I’d be late and they knew I was checking out the next morning. They might have made sure the bed was down.
Even offline, being relevant is critical to a happy customer.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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