Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

The world got a little less zany yesterday with the death of Phyllis Diller at age 95.

If you’re old enough to have grown up watching the “Queen of Comedy” on TV, in movies or on stage, you’re probably of one of two minds: She was either great or grating. Hers was that sort of polarizing style and talent.

Perhaps because of that, she made an enduring impact on the entertainment business and is credited with paving a path for later generations of female comedians. She also became a uniquely memorable character to audiences she reached and touched, whether while entertaining troops overseas in USO shows, or making one of her frequent appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. 

In reading news reports and media tributes, I was struck by a few themes that defined Diller’s comedic persona. It dawned on me that there are hallmarks to her career that can serve as lessons and inspiration for us marketers, as we strive to create memorable impact and differentiated positioning in a crowded, noisy marketplace.

Here are a few of my takeaways. Perhaps you’ve got some of your own. If so, please share them in a comment.

Short and punchy works — but also takes work. 
Especially with the rise of social media and community management, balancing long-form, value-adding content with plenty of concise, well-crafted, information-rich tweets, comments, updates and replies is a critical ingredient in today’s marketing mix.

What bears noting is that these short-form snippets deserve as much strategic thought and professional care as your e-books, webinars, white papers and infographics.  

Skim through these Phyllis Diller quotes assembled into a slide show by the Huffington Post. Diller clearly had a knack for the punchy, high-impact, 140-character comment long before Twitter.

Now picture that behind each line was (I’m assuming) a team of talented, professional comedy thinkers and writers, evaluating every word and polishing every phrase until the result crackled and sparkled. You get the sense Diller wouldn’t have entrusted her Twitter stream or Facebook updates to the new intern. This is the work of subject-matter experts. Communications pros.

Dare to stand out
Simply by virtue of her gender, Diller was different for her time, and therefore bound to stand apart from her male comedy contemporaries. But she elected to go one step (OK, several steps) further to appear distinctive and attract attention. From her cackling laugh to the platinum-colored wigs and cigarette holder, you know when she walked through a curtain or delivered a punch line that this was Phyllis Diller.  

Which isn’t to say your content should be packaged and presented in a way that is garish. But, ideally, you have a vision for a design look-and-feel, and an editorial voice, that are reflective of a differentiated brand image and personality you want to establish in the marketplace. And you’re adhering to that visual identity and editorial voice consistently with the content you create. 


Much of Diller’s humor was grounded in empathy for issues faced by her audience, particularly women. When she talked about burying her laundry mistakes in the backyard, her inability to cook, her trials and tribulations with fictitious husband Fang, she was signalling to fans: “I know that life, relationships and raising children are full of challenges, hard work and heartaches.”

Based on that empathy, Diller could offer her audiences poignant observation and comic relief.

What you can offer with content is insight, solutions, case examples, tools, peer-to-peer community…and maybe a little humor and fun, as well. 

Embrace the “un-sexy”
With her knobby knees, crazy hair and heavy eye makeup, Phyllis Diller cut a less-than-sexy figure on stage. But that was part of what made her interesting and engaging. Someone able to make us stop and pay attention. Eager to study what she looked like, sure. But also to hear what she had to say.

Let’s face it, many B2B products and services are, purely on their own, not inherently “sexy.” But the best content marketing focuses not on the product or service itself, but on the challenges and opportunities the audience has in their professional lives and businesses. It’s in the context of diving into and exploring those often nitty-gritty, specialized, highly technical issues and objectives that your product or service can eventually emerge as looking smart, sexy and desireable. 

That’s why you’ll see companies such as Indium (which makes solder) and Miller Electric (which manufactures welding equipment) able to exert such a strongly attractive image and presence with their B2B content marketing. 

Because they understand that smart and sexy are in the eye, heart and head of the beholder.

RIP, Phyllis.


This post, originally published on Hanley Wood Marketing’s Content Is Marketing blog, is cross-posted here for subscribers to Touch Point City. For more marketing ideas and insights from my colleagues at HWM, subscribe to Content Is Marketing.


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If you’re a B-to-B corporate marketer, should you extend your marketing program to Pinterest?

Can we put a pin in the marketing hype around Pinterest?

Dumb question, right? After all, Pinterest is the latest hot social sharing network. And we’re talking hotter than hot.  I recently saw Pinterest described as the fastest growing social networking site ever (Facebook included). 

A HubSpot e-book, How to Use Pinterest for Business, cites data from Hitwise 
which ranks relative newcomer Pinterest the fifth most visited social site,
ahead of more established heavyweights such as LinkedIn and Google+.

And leave aside for a moment the potential advantages of hitching your brand to the latest social media meteor. What could possibly be the harm in adding another social sharing site to your mix? Just dig into the corporate marketing vault. Pull a nice assortment of photos, posters, ads and videos. Create your profile. Put up a pinboard or two. And watch the audience engagement and site traffic roll in.

So, should you extend your marketing program to Pinterest?

I’m going to step out onto Luddite’s Leap here and say “no.” Especially if you’re in a B-to-B relationship with your most important buyer or specifier audiences. And maybe even if you’re B-to-C.

If three or more of the following statements apply to you and your organization, you might want to hold off for a while on “pinning,” and instead put your immediate focus and resources on other priorities:

14: Your e-mail open and click-through rates are plummeting, but you’re continuing to pump out e-mails without a plan for testing ways to turn around those metrics.

13: You’ve yet to blog, post a video on YouTube, explore SlideShare as a content distribution channel, or engage with groups relevant to your audience on LinkedIn.

12: You’re still struggling to “close the loop” between where your online traffic (and leads) are coming from (i.e., sources), and which of those channels are converting into engaged followers or actual customers.

11: Your marketing team is already feeling challenged to sustain regular updates, useful curation and community engagement via the other social sharing sites where you already have a presence.

10: You’re not going to be able to add any budget, staff or outsource marketing support in the near future.

9: It’s been longer than you’d like since your team produced a relevant, differentiating content asset — an ebook, a how-to video, a webinar, a useful widget — for the audience(s) you’re striving to reach and engage.

8: You’ve yet to conduct an A/B landing page test, to see if a different approach to copy, graphics and the registration form can make an impact on downloads of your existing content assets.  

7: You’ve yet to develop a content asset and make it available to all comers, ungated, just to see how far and wide your content can circulate.

6: Beyond “It’s growing like gangbusters!” or “Everyone else is doing it,” you’re having a hard time articulating a cogent rationale for adding Pinterest to your marketing mix.

5: You’ve yet to hear from any of your customers or prospective customers who are using Pinterest to search for suppliers or product information online. 

4: Your lacking a solidly functional mobile website.

3: Your organization’s website is still closer to brochureware than a content-rich engagement hub.

2: You told yourself once that you’re not going to be one of those marketers who chases the next shiny object.

1: You remember that admonition your parents used to give: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

My skepticism about the current hype surrounding Pinterest might stem most from that last one, to be honest. I have no doubt people are discovering all sorts of ways to express and enjoy themselves, and to find others of like mind and interest, on Pinterest. But that doesn’t mean it automatically merits a land rush among marketers to stake out promotional turf on the world’s fastest-growing communal cork board.

In fact, I wonder if we marketers do ourselves, our brands and our customers a disservice if we continually behave as though every last medium, gathering place and community — offline or on — is automatically considered, first and foremost, a marketing opportunity.

Do we run the risk of irritating rather than engaging if people can’t find a place, a moment, to express themselves and relate to one another without Big Marketing poking itself into the conversation?

What do you think? Am I all alone on Luddite’s Leap here? Or do you agree it wouldn’t hurt for B-to-B marketers to consider taking a pass on Pinterest?

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Here’s a question that’s been nagging me for a while:

Is it high-risk behavior to routinely use social media to let the world know where you are?

Consider this quick case study, then tell me if it makes you think twice about tweeting, posting and checking in your whereabouts. If it doesn’t, I’d like to know why.

4:27 p.m.     Prospective criminal — let’s call him PC (in this case, it’s me) — logs in to HootSuite.

4:28 p.m.     PC spots the following tweet from a male avatar — let’s call him IY:  “I’m at Sunrise Inn (street address, city name).” The tweet includes a foursquare URL. HootSuite shows that IY published the tweet 27 minutes ago.

4:29 p.m.     PC studies IY’s Twitter profile and notes that IY lives in a U.S. city and describes himself as a consultant and best-selling author.

4:30 p.m.     Sensing an opportunity, PC checks the online White Pages. He finds addresses for two individuals by the same name, IY, one of which has the middle initial F.

4:32 p.m.     PC checks LinkedIn and finds one profile for a man named IY. No middle initial indicated.

4:33 p.m.     PC scrolls the LinkedIn profile and finds that IY is president of his own company. The company name is a three-letter acronym: IFY, Inc. PC is fairly certain that it’s IFY who is visiting the Sunrise Inn.

4:35 p.m.     PC returns to the online White Pages to pinpoint IFY’s street address.

4:37 p.m.     PC checks MapQuest to discover that, assuming IFY is still at the Sunrise Inn, he’s more than 55 miles, or a little more than an hour, from home. Even if IFY left the Sunrise Inn just prior to tweeting, he’s very likely 30 minutes or more from home.

As a member of IFY’s online community, what can I do with the news that he’s at a hotel (or a movie theater, or a restaurant) in a certain city at a certain time? Not much. This sort of social media update is of little information, conversation or entertainment value.

But what if I really am a prospective criminal, and I’ve got burglary, vandalism or another form of mayhem in mind? Maybe this sort of tweet is my opportunity to act. To strike.

I’m probably a fuddy duddy when it comes to “here’s where I am, here’s what I’m doing” information sharing. But it seems to me that if we want to keep our loved ones and homes safe and secure, we’re OK sharing who we are, what we think, what we know, etc. But where we are? That’s information best left unpublished.


What do you think? See any cause for concern in the IFY behavior described above? I’m eager to be educated if I’m missing the point on “here’s where I am, here’s what I’m doing” social media updates. Please enlighten me with comments below.

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Factor in both works and words, and no executive in U.S. history lived as notable and quotable a career as Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who died this week at age 56.

As well-earned tributes flow, along with “best of” articles on Jobs’ contributions to computing, connectivity, media and management, what might content marketers infer from 10 of Jobs’ most quoted observations on business, innovation and life?

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”
Even the most prolific and accomplished content marketers will make mistakes now and then. Typos and bad line breaks creep into blog posts. Links are occasionally broken. That e-book we thought would light up the landing page proves woefully short on wattage.

Harvesting marketing inspiration from the words of Steve Jobs

We sweat the details and fret the mistakes — or at least we should. But ideally it’s the commitment to envision, then publish, that next added-value content asset, and then the next one, that overrides the occasional glitch in the minds of our communities. 

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
If content marketing were a race, tortoises would have the edge. Focus and consistency over time. Being multi-channel and integrated vs. going for the one blockbuster downloadable asset. More about regular blogging than writing a best seller. Continuously measuring, rethinking, improving.

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
Listening is valuable and important. It should be part of content strategy. But the big wins and wows tend to come when marketers say: “We know this category. We understand these people, their businesses, their dreams and pain points. There’s an opportunity to change the game here. To create something they’ll find uniquely valuable.” That asset, that idea, doesn’t necessarily appear fully formed in customer surveys or sentiment analyses. More often is shows up while you’re singing in the shower, or riding the bus home from work.

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have… It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”
Except in rare cases, there won’t be the money, staff or time to plan and execute exactly what we’d draw up on the white board. So you look at your budget, and all those tactics you’ve been investing in for years, and ask yourself: Can we start by shifting 20, 25 even 30 percent of our budget from what has been to what could be? If we always do what we’ve always done will we always get what we’ve always gotten? And then you identify a core team of passionistas — internal stakeholders or external partners — and start talking strategy, personas, channels and KPIs.  

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
And don’t waste time repurposing someone else’s content. Guest bloggers are great. Curating to help your audience stay abreast and make sense of relevant news and information is smart. But too many would-be content marketers assume the quick and cheap path is to slap their logo on a collection of previously published work, or rely on a content farm churning out articles for a nameless, faceless reader.

“I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.”
Sometimes it’s the tweet you dare not to send, or the “viral” video you choose not to post, that sustains the integrity of your content strategy. Or that skimpy blog post you elect to hold for further development, even though it’s Friday and the planning calendar says it’s time to keep cadence. If you’ve thought hard about your brand’s personality and value proposition, and have a clear vision for the audience personas that matter most to your business, way more often than not you’ll make the right call.

“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”
When it’s all said and done, do you want to have bested the direct mail control by half a percentage point? Found a clever way to put one over on those search-engine swifties over at Google? Or do you want to have attracted and engaged a business-critical audience — prospects, customers, employees, dealers, you choose — in ways no brand has dared try, much less accomplished?

“I want to put a ding in the universe.”
Imagine if every B-to-B marketer went to work looking to put a ding in their industry, never mind the universe. Can’t do it, you say? Easy for Steve Jobs, selling those cool consumer technologies. My product’s a commodity. I’ve got no say in R&D. There’s not enough budget. And besides, customers only care about price. Tell it to Rick Short. He’s making a ding over at Indium. His product? Something that operates deep and unappreciated inside all those devices Jobs and Apple are renowned for: Solder.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently…”
Paul Gillin dares to declare that big ideas don’t have ROI, and he’s probably pretty much right. Sadly, most big content strategies don’t come gift wrapped in a spreadsheet of predictable lead volumes and revenue numbers. But what you know in your head, and your gut, tells you there’s this opportunity to do something special. And you know you can measure, course correct and evolve as you go. Planned smartly, executed well, it stands to reason ROI will come. But to get there, you might have to challenge yourself, your boss, your team, your clients, to see things differently.

Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets.”
Likewise, if you keep putting relevant, value-adding content out in the market. Via your online channels, within social media, through your sales force, in your advertising and direct marketing. Exposed to great content consistently, over time, customers and potential customers will open their minds, hearts, browsers and office doors. Invite them to do that, and their wallets will open, too.


From an early Mac Plus owner, a movie buff and a content marketer, thanks, Steve Jobs, and the employees of Apple and Pixar, for your leadership, products and ideas.


What about you? As a marketer, as a business person, what inspiration do you take from the works and words of Steve Jobs? Comments welcome.

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This past week more than 600 people converged on Cleveland, Ohio, for a special event. It wasn’t a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, although there was plenty of energy and even a concert sort of vibe. It wasn’t a pro sports event, though the focus was definitely on winning and losing in a highly competitive arena.

This was a business and networking event. The inaugural Content Marketing World conference and expo, produced by the Cleveland-based Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

For two days, corporate and non-profit marketers, agency pros, publishers, consultants, bloggers and technology vendors enthusiastically discussed, demoed and debated the hows and whys of content as a marketing strategy.

If you’re a marketer and you missed CMWorld, you missed many of the field’s leading authors and practitioners presenting their thinking, success stories and best practices. Real-time PR strategies. SEO techniques. Customer experience improvement tips. Plus case studies from companies such as Intel, Kelly Services, Sherwin-Williams and DuPont.

To sample the information shared, you can swim through a swollen Twitter stream at #cmworld, or read a collection of 40-plus ensuing blog posts compiled by CMI’s Michele Linn here. Click on the links and you’ll likely pick up a content marketing best practice or two, or six.

Executive Summary

Meanwhile, if you’re a corporate marketing executive, there’s another type of takeaway to be gleaned from CMWorld. It’s an insight that — provided it resonates with you — has the potential to do more for your team, your brand and even your customers than all the CMWorld round tables and product demos combined.

Maslow's hierarchy

Content marketing: Maslow's hierarchy made manifest?

This isn’t a takeaway you’d have seen bulleted in a CMWorld PowerPoint. It transcends individual speakers and sessions. And it doesn’t come bundled with any of the latest content management systems or social media listening tools.

Yet, if you ask people who attended CMWorld, it’s a good bet many would agree this is the most powerful takeaway they’ll bring back to their organizations. And here it is:

Content marketing is inherently energizing and fulfilling for the people who practice it.

That’s right. Call me Pollyanna. Call me Norman Vincent Peale. But we’re talking Maslow’s hierarchy of needs here. Esteem and self-actualization as byproducts of a job well done. 

You could see it on faces and hear it in voices of not only the presenters, but the corporate marketers, too. You could almost feel it in the ballroom air.

  • Best-selling author David Meerman Scott, exhorting marketers to cull gobbledygook from their communications and write in real, human and humane terms.
  • Lee Odden, a bona fide SEO guru, reminding attendees to optimize online content for people first, web crawlers and search engine algorithms second.
  • And Intel’s Pam Didner, speaking with passion and humor about opportunities she sees to improve a multinational content planning and development process that most would consider already highly advanced by industry standards.

Whether their planning next month’s blog posts, promoting a webinar or producing a video, content marketers automatically put themselves in the position and mindset of seeking to be of value and service to customers and prospects. It’s implicit in the strategy. The onus is on marketing FOR customers and prospects vs. merely AT them.

But we marketers focus so much time and effort planning and creating touch points to reach and influence our audiences, it’s easy to lose sight of the impact felt by those doing the touching.

A specialist who’s only job is to squeeze another fraction of a percent ROI against the direct mail control package isn’t likely to feel the same sense of purpose and reward that can come with creating an educational ebook or an inspirational video — touch points designed to deliver meaning and value for customers.

Likewise, most traditional campaigns are geared to capture attention and drive action. But unless it’s a public service announcement, being of service to the target audience is usually not a primary objective spelled out in the creative brief.

Energy Born of Intention

This is not to say traditional marketing tactics are less worthy, less creatively stimulating or less intellectually satisfying when planned and executed well. Most practitioners agree content marketing is not a wholesale substitute for more traditional  marketing methods. It’s a complement. An enhancement. And the more integrated the tactics and channels, typically, the better the result.

But if you’re a CMO who’s yet to fully embrace content marketing, consider what it would mean to have your team arrive at the office each day consistently pumped to plan and execute compelling, useful, even entertaining content for key audiences.

Then consider that them doing so is a proven path to achieving business and marketing priorities.  Building traffic. Performing well in search. Sparking audience engagement. Generating and nurturing leads. Creating community within social media. Positioning your brand as a thought leader.

Sound like a win-win?

To be clear, content marketing is no walk in the park. It’s demanding work. Don’t imagine for a minute your team and their consultants and agency partners won’t be working hard and brainstorming bullets to consistently develop great content and deliver real results.

But the fact that so many practitioners seem to gain a higher sense of mission, pride and, dare I say, pleasure when undertaking content-driven strategies might the best argument for adopting one.

As Norman Vincent Peale once said: “There is a real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment. The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.”

More energy. Positive energy.

Is that the karma that comes with content marketing?


What say you, marketeers? Am I riding unicorns and smoking rainbows with this post? Or do you agree there’s something about attracting and engaging customers with value-adding content that can cause marketers to feel better (i.e., more proud, excited, strategic) about the work they do? Agree or disagree, I’d welcome your thoughts and feelings on the subject.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

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I saw a news article this week which made me think about branding vs. audience engagement.

More specifically, it made me wonder how big the gap might be between marketing investments that primarily strive for brand awareness, and marketing that focuses on creating true business-building customer engagement.

Maybe you saw the article, too. Monday’s AdvertisingAge e-newsletter reported on Aflac’s search for a new “spokes-quacker.” The insurer recently cut loose comedian Gilbert Gottfried, the voice behind its brand mascot, the now famous Aflac duck.

Gottfried had tweeted a reference to the tsunami in Japan, using it as the basis for a wisecrack about the current state of his love life. With 70 percent of Aflac’s revenue coming from Japan, the tweet prompted Aflac marketers to send Gottfried packing.

The article went on to report:

  •  Aflac’s Gottfried-voiced duck campaign, which debuted in 2000, is largely credited with driving the company’s brand awareness from 11 percent to 95 percent as far back as 2006.
  • Since 1999, Aflac’s market share in the accident and health insurance category has grown from 7.88 percent to 9.04 percent, making Aflac in 2010 the category’s No. 1 brand.
  • Aflac spent $81 million on “measured media” last year.
  • While the insurer has cut ties with its spokesperson, the spokes fowl will continue to feather Aflac’s nest. “The duck is here to stay,” was the quote from an Aflac marketer. 


Branding vs. Customer Engagement
I don’t have the real data on this, but let’s assume Aflac has spent at half its 2010 pace on duck-driven advertising over the past decade. If so, it’s probably invested more than $400 million to make an impression on the market through the voice and playful antics of a duck.

In return, the company saw brand awareness skyrocket by more than 80 percentage points. At the same time, the company’s business as gauged by market share (not a true measure of revenue and ROI, but let’s call it a proxy) grew just over one percentage point.

Accident and health insurance is presumably a multi-billion insurance category, so a gain of one point in market share certainly represents a boatload of additional revenue.

Still, the story made me wonder what might have happened to share and revenue if Aflac had spent an equal amount of money on content marketing. Maybe not even an equal amount. Let’s say a fraction of that amount.

Dunno the answer. Not sure there is a definitive answer. In fact, I’m not even sure this is a criticism of Aflac’s marketing strategy. The question just came to mind.

What’s your take?

It’s no longer 1999. It’s 2011. If you had the option to spend $80 million this year to have an animal squalk at your audience, in hopes of growing awareness for your brand, or spend $8 million on content, looking to attract customers into engagement with your brand, which would you choose?

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Marketing can be complicated. But recognizing opportunities to build and maintain a brand’s image is sometimes remarkably plain and simple. Case in point:

This week my wife scanned our monthly bank statement. She noticed a $2 charge that lacked clear explanation. Curious, she called the bank’s customer service number. After a few minutes, a customer service rep picked up. When questioned about the $2 charge, the CSR politely explained it had been deducted from our account by mistake.

She went on to explain that the bank now charges $2 for providing photocopies of cancelled checks on customers’ monthly printed statements. Based on the type of accounts my wife and I have, under the bank’s new policy we should have been passed over for the fee. The CSR apologized and offered to credit the $2 to our account.

So far, so good.

But my wife, a small-town banker’s daughter, felt compelled to ask a few more questions.

Wife: What if I hadn’t noticed the $2 charge?
CSR: It would not have been restored to your account.

Wife: Why?
CSR: We lack the ability to identify and credit accounts mistakenly charged the $2.

Wife: Will you notify customers, so they can check their accounts and let you know if the $2 fee has been deducted?
CSR: No. Again, the bank lacks the ability to identify customers who were mistakenly charged the fee.

Wife: Yet you had the ability to charge our accounts the $2?
CSR: The CSR didn’t really have an answer for that question. Perhaps because it was phrased rhetorically. And perhaps because the answer, in fairness to her, resides with someone above her pay grade.


A Micro Brand Management Case Study
Never mind that a financial services company making record profits decides it needs to charge $2 per month to help customers with their financial record-keeping by providing photocopies of cancelled checks. I know a certain small-town banker who, if he were here today, would have labelled that idea…well, a word that rhymes with chicken spit. But again, let’s leave the policy aside for a moment.

Leave aside, too, that the reason for providing photocopies is that the bank decided years ago that collecting and returning the cancelled checks themselves was too costly and inefficient a practice to continue.

Let’s just focus on the $2 mistake.  

Here’s the Harvard Business Review case study, in a nutshell: You are a bank executive. Your bank has mistakenly taken $2 from some customers’ accounts. Incredibly, your crack IT team is unable to tell you which accounts were debited $2 in error.

What’s a bank — what’s a brand — to do?

I’m pretty sure my banker father-in-law would have recognized this as a brand moment of truth. Come to think of it, he wouldn’t have used the word “brand.” He’d have spoken about the situation in old-school terms, such as “honesty,” “fairness,” and “doing the right thing by customers.”

Then he very likely would have sent out a message — a letter, an e-mail, some tweets — suggesting that customers check their recent statements, to see if by chance they were mistakenly charged $2. Those communiques would have expressed regret for any errors. And they would have encouraged customers to call or e-mail if they see the $2 charge on their statements.

Finally, the letter and e-mail might have noted that, in an era when consumers’ trust of the financial services industry could be at an all-time low, your bank is committed to earning your trust and safeguarding your money.


What Price Brand Image?
It’s possible my bank is taking steps to correct its $2 error. And it’s possible the CSR was not fully aware of efforts underway to correct the situation. Ideally, both of those caveats are the case.

If not, then this scenario illustrates that recognizing opportunities to build and maintain a brand’s image is sometimes remarkably plain and simple.

And yes, sometimes there’s a cost involved. In this case, the cost to maintain a brand image might have been to forgo the $2 fee revenue in the first place. Or, if not that, it might have been the potential expense involved in owning up to an error and refunding some customers a $2 mistaken charge.

But from all indications, at least for this bank, at this particular moment of truth, the number crunching was already done. The value of its brand image has been calculated and set into policy. And that value turns out to be remarkably low and fungible.

Two bucks a month.


Sound like a brand moment of truth to you? What would you have advised the C-suite if you were the bank’s head of marketing and brand management? Does brand image and loyalty really hang on such seemingly trivial policies and interactions? I’d welcome your comments and discussion.

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