Friday, January 2, 2009

Asking for online feedback

Many sites (amazon, expedia, etc.) ask you for feedback when you buy something. ebay goes further by making it such an integral part of the process. By I received an email today from a US company called that goes to a new level.

They've given me a list of reasons for why customer reviews are really helpful. I actually found the list quite interesting, and indeed helpful. I will be using it in presentations to clients - to show the value of opening out the brand to customer feedback, and also to show how a long form email can be a valuable part of CRM alongside offers.

Here's their list of reasons in full:

* Let me take a moment to explain why product reviews are so important.

We trust that your shopping experience with was a positive one, and while we hope every product we sell offers a high level of satisfaction, we simply cannot be absolutely sure unless we get feedback from customers like you. We sell a lot of products, and we do our best to keep ourselves informed and provide you with as much specific information as we can. But, in the end, it is still YOUR experience that really counts and keeps us better informed about aspects of a product that would otherwise be unknown to us.

We take all the reviews we receive very seriously, good or bad. In fact, your reviews can even make or break a product at! Here's how:

When people like you share their positive reviews with one another, more new visitors to our site can be confident in the satisfaction and results they will achieve. Your review may be that final little bit of information necessary to sway someone else into finding a product with life-changing results! Then, that person's positive experience is passed on and read by another person, and so on....

On the other hand, if a product is simply not 'living up to the hype', and is receiving lukewarm or even negative reviews, then inquiring shoppers have the right to know. In fact, if the growing body of public opinion is that a product is simply ineffective, we will remove the product, (not the reviews), from our site! Honestly, there are some products we no longer sell because the reviews were awful.

With the staggering number of products available online, getting the benefits of previous users' experience is vital. I am also a shopper, of course, and I also buy products online. I personally find that reviews act as a safeguard ensuring quality and efficacy of every product. Like everyone, I am much more confident buying a product online if I have seen reviews for it first.

Think how you feel when you come across a product that you think might be right for you, and some great reviews or a few success stories confirm those very thoughts, providing you with confidence and certainty. Think of how you feel when a review might make you aware of something you neglected to consider about a product or its claims, steering you in a better direction. A community of people sharing thoughts, opinions, and experiences is an extremely beneficial process in the online shopping world.

Of course, not everyone is in 100% agreement, and experience with the same products may vary. But, a longer list of reviews for any given product means a more accurate general consensus. It takes just one person with the courage and dedication to write one simple product review to 'get the ball rolling'. That's how online communities and forums are created!

We would greatly appreciate your thoughts and opinions on any products that you have purchased, or even a product that you purchased elsewhere, but would like to express a few thoughts about.

We are giving you, the customer, a forum to be heard by thousands of people! If you wish, you can even state your opinions with the comfort of knowing that you are protected by total anonymity by entering your name in the review as 'anonymous'.

So, this is why I am personally asking you for your help. On behalf of all present and future ZooScape customers, just like yourself, I know that the more product reviews we have at our site, the better informed everyone is going to be.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year Predictions

Some predictions based on some knowledge, and a bit of wine
  1. After a lot of nasty price and offer ads this xmas and new year, we'll move into a advertising and communications style that celebrates how long things will last. 'Smart investments' will be suggested in things that are built to last not built to burn. We'll see lots of extended warranties and new services that look like they 'save' you money on the surface (but will be disguised insurance policies)
  2. Just seen '100 books' on the nintendo ds. And of course there's the amazon kindle and the sony reader out there too. They're still living in the world of neeks at the moment, but i reckon 2009 will see the growth of illegal book sharing. Have book publishers learnt from the harsh reality the music and film industries faced...?
  3. It will be a year of consolidation and mergers in agency-land. There really are just too many agencies, meaning that each one has quite a lot of average people running around doing average work. Particularly in 'digital' where there's a LOT of average people pulling the wool over the eyes of senior agency staff who wouldn't recognise a digital opportunity if it sat there at breakfast.
  4. Sadly, CSR, green credentials and ethics will take a back seat in communications. It will be interesting to see which organisations and brands pull support for these programmes - this will be an eye-opener for who was serious and who was green-washing.
  5. Related to point 4, i think there's a massive opportunity for organisations to 'go local', and more importantly for some local organisations to thrive if they get it right. large companies can go local / personal by using digital to understand customers and potential customers. local organisations can't compete on the buying power and scale of multi-nationals, but they can win on trust and customer knowledge / service.
  6. Also related to point 4, some of the good ideas for new forms of business organisation that were born out of sustainable thinking are equally valid for a wary economy - renting, sharing, repairing.
  7. I might be biased, given where i'm now working, but i honestly think that we'll see new types of sales promotion that connect sales with genuine and relevant customer needs. Digital means that a sales promotion doesn't have to be one size fits all any more, the customer can have more control on what's interesting to them, and organisations and brands that capture this with genuine insight and genuine ideas will benefit from promiscious customers who can see past the false econony of a quick price reduction.
  8. There was an interesting article in Q the other month that suggested that music tends to predict the economy. I'm hoping that more songs like Elbow's 'One day like this' show new optimism that will filter up into the economy in 2009. Sadly, i reckon we're in line for some depressing smiths-style numbers. But i'm loving the return to the 80s synth lines from Keane and the Killers latest albums.
And now to more wine...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

For Emma. Xmas 2008

Click here for details...

[whilst this is on my blog, this is actually just for Emma. Others passing by, hope you're not disappointed!]

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy holidays

Sorry, been far too quiet for a bit. It's been a blistering start to my new role at iris. Meeting lots of lovely people, getting involved with loads of new clients and some great ideas and opportunities for 2009.

So, I plan to think of a few predictions for 2009, and hope to be much more active next year.

But have a good xmas and new year!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The voices in my head

So yesterday, after 18 action-packed months, I left Proximity London.

(I'm joining iris in a group head of planning role.)

But I thought I'd do a top five personal achievements at proximity for my own records. Yes, a bit narcissistic, but that'll be blogging in general.... And there's nowhere else to put it.

1. Delivering digital strategies for RNLI and Harveys for 2009 (let's hope they're implemented), and winning a place on Shell's global digital roster

2. Seeing Harveys become a genuine challenger brand to DFS following the sponsorship of coronation street. It shows how a simple strategy, good advertising and a passionate client and agency teams can really make things happen. I think the most satisfying was seeing new work across multiple channels - TV, Print, Leaflets, Website, Email, Mobile, In store.....

3. Working with DDB and Mediacom on VW annual planning. The BTL agency wouldn't normally have had that level of involvement, so we (proximity) were very pleased. Some lovely campaigns for VW: Scirocco, Golf v6 (to come), Tiguan, Touran, Passat CC too.

4. Mentoring or helping or working with some great people who I know will do well - james hidden, james hough, jamie chadwick, kirtsy higgins, abi fletcher, mat spencer, jo dann, andy ford, emma bushnell, charlie h-s, nicole mackintosh, andrew waddell, matt tanter, scott hendry, anna booth, megan randell, emma slade, tessa clements.

5. Actually using semiotics, ethnographic research and discourse analysis sensibly and practically for some work! Simon W - the original map of possible positive charge inputs seems to be working....

Thanks to amanda phillips, mark hancock and kevin allen who took a bit of gamble letting me in the building in the first place. Thanks proximity and good luck in the future.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Last night I had the honour of speaking at 'Statstock: - how the other half plan'. This was an IPA Strategy Group event that brought together 9 planners to speak about what its like to plan from the perspective of their discipline.

The brief was to 'to help younger planners broaden their view of what strategy and planning can mean in very different types of agencies and consultancies'.

So I was speaking from the world of direct marketing. Which was bloody difficult as we had Max Wright from Rapier speaking about an integrated approach, Martin Bailie from Glue (digital), Sam Noble from iris (sales promotion). So as you can imagine, there was the potential for a lot of overlap... It was also made more difficult as we were speaking at the same time in a big room at the Mary Ward House with booming acoustics....

(Oh yeah, and there was no audio visual equipment either, so flip charts, pens and actual conversation were required)

The reality for me is that planning is planning is planning when you're looking for the 'grand strategy' (thanks to Stephen King's theory of planners here). It's about understanding people, motivations, moods, potential connections and how brands can be inciteful in linking these together in a useful and valuable way.

But planning is necessarily more discipline focused when you're 'advert tweaking' - i.e helping craft the execution (including the measurement / evaluation).

So for DM I tried to focus on the new and interesting things that i've been involved in that lead to more effective direct marketing: semiotics, discourse analysis and ethnography. (In retrospect, I tried to throw too much in to my 10 minutes!)

For me, the way that differerent speakers approached their chat was just as instructive on the shades of planning as their content:

  • boards vs. live pen scribbling vs. just talking
  • conversation vs. polemic (i didn't realise we were competing for which discipline was best...)
  • facts and case studies vs. thoughts, ideas and suggestions
  • looking back vs. looking forward
I didn't get to see all the other speakers, but overall feedback was that it was a interesting night, people felt that they had value for money and some ideas to take away. (as well as some top tips. which reminds me. this guy has scanned in all of the first pack of IPA strategy group fast strategy top tips. wow - check it out here)

The ipa girls were filming, so hopefully we'll see some good edits on the ipa website soon.

Monday, October 13, 2008

FREE music downloads

Whilst i've not been blogging, I have been spending time writing and producing new pieces of music.

Over on Clueless Chimp there's 5 new tracks to download for FREE! (right click on the link, save target as. Then click on the file from explorer to launch into itunes)

My good friend David Nicholls and I have been jamming away, and Hey Now Sister is the product of that. To be honest, it needs a remastering, but you get the idea.

I was in a band called 'Amber Waves' with David at university. Or was it 'The Amber Waves'? We argued a lot over the definitive article. In fact we argued a lot about a lot back then. We're older and wiser now, safe in the knowledge that we'll never be on the front cover of Melody Maker or Select, and we won't be performing live on Top of the Pops.

We do have some vague plans for some live events in 2009 though.