Building TRUST instead of loyalty

I was thinking about branding and customer loyalty the other day. Hugh at gaping void pointed out that a brand wasn’t a thing it was a place… and that’s a pretty cool concept. But when it comes to business all we really want to do is get our customers to TRUST us… you don’t get loyalty without trust.

Kryptonite bike locks were a great example of a brand that had loyal customers buying their locks to keep their bikes safe. But when a video surfaced on the internet showing how to crack a kryptonite lock with a pen lid, people no longer trusted the kryptonite brand.

All that loyalty disappeared with a single video… you see, people TRUSTED kryptonite to keep their bikes safe.

People trust apple to make cool music players and laptops but when apple breaks that trust by DRMing music downloaded form its music store or their laptops overheat etc… then people lose their trust in Apple and start looking at someone else to trust.

You get the idea. A brand is a place people head to because they can TRUST the product or service.

McDonalds isn’t the greatest restaurant in the world but you can trust that the food will taste the same and the menu will be the same at any McDonalds around the world. And that’s why people go to McDonalds.

So when you’re building your brand you have to remember that all you’re doing is building trust. Don’t kid yourself that you’re building loyalty… you build loyalty with better products or services… you can try to buy loyalty with discounts, loyalty programs etc but that makes it easy for someone else to BUY your customers away from you.

Just some thoughts that might inspire a chapter in the book one day.

Published in: on September 7, 2006 at 2:34 pm Comments Off on Building TRUST instead of loyalty

How to make banking fun

Curious Lucre has a fantastically funny collection and description of bank notes from around the world. Here’s how they describe the note above:

And so the collection begins: with one of the uglier bills on the planet. No one on Argentinian money seems happy to be there. They’d all prefer to be elsewhere – it’s as if this is an imposition on their busy life.

This fellow is obviously a sharp character, and pressed for time. What do you want? My head is vanishing into my torso. I have no time for you. Spend me. Be gone.

A bank or a money transfer operation like Western Union, could easily have created something fun and entertaining like Curious Lucre but the underlying premise to big business seems to be that you can’t be entertaining or fun.

If you were a hotel chain, you could blog about things like Hotel Surplus … a site that sells surplus hotel art and furniture etc. But, the core business of a bank or hotel is not to be fun, they don’t seem to want people to visit their sites because they offer fun or entertaining stuff… they only want you to do business with them or be gone.

I wonder how much traffic and potential customers these big businesses would get if they focussed a bit more on entertainment with their websites instead of bookings and interest rates?

Published in: on June 8, 2006 at 10:32 am Comments Off on How to make banking fun

Don’t hit the target market dead centre

Big companies aren’t usually the first to create niche markets. It’s small companies that carve a niche and then – sometimes- become big companies, or get bought out by big companies.

It’s not that big companies don’t have wild and crazy people with great ideas… it’s often because a any great idea gets the edges rubbed off it by various managers, departments, lawyers and rules, to turn the idea into something that will appeal to as many people as possible. Big mistake… because that’s exactly what the competition is doing too.

A small company or individual has fewer management to please so their ideas can go anywhere. This diagram explains it better:

A small company or individual can turn a crazy idea into a business reality because, in most cases, they don’t need million dollar sales to satisfy shareholders, managers, wage bills, corporate offices etc. This allows a small organisation to target a small segment of the market: Customers who LOVE their product.

Small companies can afford to have people HATE their product or service. If you want the average version then they will send you to Walmart. Niche market, often means you buy it online or have to do some work to find it.

Big companies don’t want anyone to hate their product and targetting the niche few who will love it is not as economically viable as making a product that everyone can afford and use. (Except if you’re Apple… those ipods weren’t cheap and Apple didn’t care. Because they were selling to people who LOVED the idea of a $300+ music box)

So if you want to make a Bike Helmet you could follow the designs of the thousands of models that look the same and are average (safety in numbers), or you can make something like below:

Do you think boingboing would blog about the helmet on the right? No, and that’s the reason why noginsox are selling the helmets on the LEFT (and other cool designs) by the truck load at the moment.

Some crazy person got it in their heads to create a bike helmet that looked like a bald head with nails hammered into it… fantastic.

Forget aerodynamics, cooling, sun protection… these products are FUN.

We always rate businesses by market share, cash flow, profitability… I think FUN is just as important as all of these things.

Published in: on December 9, 2005 at 5:47 pm Comments (3)

The Talent Myth

For years I have been coaching jobseekers to focus on their talent and not their skills and experience. Talent is the reason why some people are stars at their jobs while others are just ok… and you can’t train or teach talent. But I was reading an essay by Malcom Gladwell, when these few sentences grabbed my attention:

They were there looking for people who had the talent to think outside the box. It never occurred to them that, if everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing.

He’s talking about Enron, Arthur Anderson, Worldcom etc… big companies that hired and financially rewarded young MBAs to become stars by pushing them to think outside of the box. And while they were doing this, the whole place fell apart.

I’m summarising Malcolm’s essay dramatically here but he made a case that creating a talented organisation is far better than relying on a plethora of talented people. In other words, an extraordinary busines can make ordinary people achieve extraordinary things. We often assume that people make organisations smart… often it’s the other way around.

Published in: on December 1, 2005 at 12:41 am Comments (0)

A ‘desk’ teaches us two incredible lessons…

I have a friend who makes furniture, each piece is hand-carved from beautiful timbers. The problem is, there are hundreds of other craftsmen out there also hand-carving furniture out of timber… so his pieces may or may not stand out of the crowd, but they’re not necessarily remarkable. The desk below is remarkable… people have described it as cool, insane and awesome once I tell them the story :
b-25 bomber desk picture
This is a piece of tail section from a B-25 bomber that has been stripped back, glass added and turned into a desk. That’s pretty cool.

So there’s lesson 1: You can make anything remarkable… even a humble desk.

But the real lesson here for anyone who sells anything is how and why you might pay $15,000 for that desk…

Published in: on November 13, 2005 at 11:46 am Comments (3)

Why you’re screwed if all you have is a job

Just finished listening to an excellent podcast from Steve Pavlina about how to make money without a job. I’m not going to mention home business so please keep reading. When you build a house you build it on more than ONE foundation, but most people support their lives on just one foundation; their job. So their life looks something like this:
if you look like this you're screwed

More like a diving board isn’t it. If you were to lose your job then your whole life can come crashing down around you. Now let’s say that you have a few ideas, crafts, hobbies or investments that bring you in small income streams – your life would now look something like this:

if you look like this you're screwed

So if you lose your job it is a nagging inconvenience but your whole life doesn’t collapse around you. Understand I’m not suggesting you become some money hungry ‘Donald Trump wannabe‘… I’m just talking about enough money to give you some choices in life. Let me give you some more ideas…

Published in: on November 10, 2005 at 8:20 am Comments (6)

You can’t buy exposure like this…

nina gordon banner
Nina Gordon is lucky, she has a voice of an angel, her music is nice and she recently released one of the prettiest cover songs you’d ever hear called ‘Straight out of Compton which was originally recorded by NWA (Niggers With Attitude). This song gained her more fans than any marketing idea her record label could have conceived… and you’re going to hear why in a second. WARNING, this song was written by NWA and has lyrics that would make a sailor blush, but damn it’s pretty:

Straight out of compton: Download

There are so many lessons to learn from this song:


Published in: on November 8, 2005 at 9:18 pm Comments (13)

Why big businesses can’t innovate new brands

Here’s my take on why big businesses can’t build innovative new brands as quickly as small companies or individuals… their motivation is all wrong… everything they do is for the money. (more…)

Published in: on November 7, 2005 at 4:13 pm Comments (0)

Wouldn’t it be cool if…

Why do so many businesses look the same? A dull, soul-destroying business costs the same amount of money, time and effort as a COOL, raved-about business. Here’s a new way at looking at any opportunity and create something cool.


Published in: on November 5, 2005 at 9:18 pm Comments (40)