Thursday, November 29, 2007

AT and T/Cingular/Sprint /Verizon - A Lesson in Service

The mobile phone and mobile service industry is very competitive and for good reason. It is a cash cow and there are only a few service providers to choose from. Recently my business partners and I turned in our old phones and purchased all new phones and as a result needed to coordinate ourselves with one service provider.

We all came from using different service providers - Verizon, (formerly Cingular)AT and T and Sprint. We all decided to go with Verizon. One partner was already there, but two of us had to leave our service providers of years, AT and T and Sprint. A Tale of Two Services it certainly turned out to be.

I ported my number from AT and T to Verizon. Little did I know that this automatically killed my AT and T account. I called AT and T right after my number ported to discuss my options to cancel my old account. They told me that my account had already been assessed a $150 cancellation fee. I replied that I did not even want my account cancelled but they did it automatically. Come to find out I only had 14 days left on my contract with AT and T. I explained that I had just received a phone through my business therefore did not need two phones and would like to explore my options. I also explained that after 4 years of being a loyal customer that $150 for 14 days was a great way to ruin what had been an otherwise great customer experience and relationship. The gentleman (and he was just that - very nice and courteous) said he would check to see what he could do. He got back on the phone and said they would waive the $150 fee. I thanked him and explained that this was consistent with the great customer service I had received for the past four years and would be happy to leave my wife's account with AT and T for the time being. Honestly, when the company was Cingular they were absolutely fantastic to deal with and I was skeptical when AT and T took over, but there has been no drop off in service. Because of their understanding and their willingness to acknowledge a loyal customer and treat me right, I will not hesitate in the future to include AT&T in my search for a cell company, or other services AT and T offers. They did the right thing and it is just that simple to market your company in a effective way. Here I am talking about how great they are. How many others will read this? That is good marketing and it did cost them much - actually it did not cost them anything. The $150 your thinking - on a 4 year customer who was low maintenance, they did not lose any money - they made money.

Now on to Sprint. My business partner moved away from Sprint, it took 3 days to port his old number and they treated him poorly. That is the short version. Needless to say none of us will ever consider Sprint for cell service based on his crummy experience and the problems he had with them prior to leaving their service.

Guess what - Sprint is losing customers by the bus loads. They are in trouble, even though they are the lead sponsor for NASCAR, and advertise through the nose. None of that matters when you have a crummy service and treat customers - new or old - poorly. Word spreads quickly.

The moral of the story is - even if your customers leave you treat them right. Take abuse from them? No. When the departure or the continuing relationship is handled maturely and professionally, treat them with respect and let them know they are valued. Good marketing, in this instance, is very inexpensive and incredibly effective. I recommend AT and T mobile whenever it comes up.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

(Real) Creative and Function

Seeing a few pieces in the press regarding sites that do a great job creatively for the audience/user but fall flat on the delivery side of the experience. So the age old issue of form vs. function comes up. Can a web site be both very creative (fun and a pleasure for the audience to experience) and do what it is created to do for a lot of big brands - drive more business? Easy answer - ABSOLUTELY. So why don't more sites/rich media deliverables (i mean real creative online work - not merely a site with a flash banner on it - for references check the FWA) perform the second half of the equation more times than not?

We will explore in some upcoming posts.
Until then behave yourselves.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Indiana, Where Art Thou?

The top ten states for starting a business were listed recently by Fortune. Check out the list by clicking here. They also list the ten worst. Is it any wonder that DC comes in dead last? The political capital of the country and the absolute worst place for starting a business (enter cricket sound effects here). Hmmmm I wonder if there is any correlation?

Since Indiana is not listed in the top ten I guess I can comment here - or at least ask some questions?
If you are aggressively trying to become a hot bed for entrepreneurial start ups and recruiting other proven winners from other states do you look at a list like this and take a lot of notes?

If you see this list do you get upset that you are not on it? Do you care?

I would like to know where Indiana resides on this list. I do know Indiana is not in the top ten or the bottom ten.

I am no Doug Karr, but I have some pretty smart folks that read this blog and I would like to hear their commentary about good old Indiana and what our beloved state could do to work themselves in to the top ten.

AdWeek to It's Prime Audience: Shops Stand to Lose in Digital Revolution

What a good article in AdWeek from a few weeks ago. Here are a few of the best quotes from the piece...
According to a new study by Accenture quoted in this article:
According to 70 industry leaders surveyed by Accenture, agencies have the most to lose in the new order, even more than broadcasters. When asked who would fare worst in the transition to digital advertising, 43 percent said agencies, compared to 33 percent who answered broadcasters. Cable operators were third with 10 percent. No respondents chose search companies or digital ad specialists.

Accenture interviewed 70 advertising "decision makers" around the world from February through April this year. Respondents included executives from agencies, media companies and technology providers.

The consulting firm found 50 percent of respondents believe digital media would be the primary form of content and advertising delivery in the next five years. Over 80 percent think it will happen within a decade.

In my opinion most importantly...
Advertisers are pessimistic they have a good grasp of the tools needed to operate in this landscape. Over 70 percent said the industry is not "technologically prepared for the resulting changes in performance measurement."

"People felt the complexity had grown over the last few years," Symmons said. "It's harder to target and track and develop campaigns."

Jacob's opinion:
From where I sit, and what I have always believed is if you do not have a grasp, the experience, or the in-house capabilities on how to best research, strategize, produce , execute, measure and repeat that process with the adjustments to improve the entire result partner with those that do. This is why the big boys like international Publicis, JWT, WPP, Dentsu, etc are gobbling up digigtal shops, search shops, etc. They see the writing on the wall and understand in addition to what they are experts in they can add a ton of value for their clients and themselves by either working with or bringing on board the experts, the experienced, the proven successful in this digital industry. Partner with those that have the knowledge and experience - set your pride aside for the progress of your client's return on their marketing and advertising dollars - after all you will reap the benefit of this long term as a wise partner who knows who best to bring in for certain types of projects (digital specialists) that will add value to an overall ad and marketing program. It is the reason my shop, The Basement, does not do print. If we have a client that wants print we partner with an expert, an experienced shop in print.

The full piece from AdWeek is here.

Some Catching Up to Do

It has been a few weeks since my last post. I have a bunch to catch up on and have seen quite a bit I have wanted to comment on. So, rapid posting in mass quantity is on its way. Stand by....

Friday, November 9, 2007

Where the agencies at???

I got an email from Ron Brumbarger last week and he was kind enough to invite me to the Techpoint 10th Annual Tech Summit.

I graciously accepted his invitation and attended this event this morning. I listened to Ron and David Becker give a presentation and then the Governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels took the stage to speak to those interested in the growth and proliferation of the Tech sector in Indiana.

I met some folks, saw some old friends and walked through the exhibitor section of the summit. Lots of interesting companies and some not so interesting companies. I did notice one glaring thing though...

Where are the ad agencies???

Here is a room full of business owners, entrepreneurs, potential clients and potential contacts,and as far as I could tell not one single Indianapolis ad agency was there, nor were there any staffers from any agencies. Maybe I missed someone, surely I do not know every ad agency pro in town, however I know or can recognize a lot of them and I saw none. Why not? I do not know. We at The Basement Design + Motion work with agencies and they could be chatting with prospective contacts, networking and growing their business at these events. They could be growing their tech client base so why are they absent? I cannot answer that question. What I do know is that we at The Basement offer services that are highly valuable to companies such as those that were at the Summit today and we sell to agencies. So it is obvious why I want agencies at these events. However, if they refuse to serve these folks, a large void is left open. A void someone needs to fill.

After all, start ups are in desperate need for good, solid marketing advice. They, more than many, need solid recommendations and execution to getting the word out about their organizations. I read a piece written specifically for new business owners and entrepreneurs in last week's IBJ by Mark Hill, local Indy entrepreneur and very successful business professional, about seeking good counsel. One should seek out, per Mark, a good ad agency. Agencies - go introduce yourselves to those who need your services, at the events where they appear in abundance!!

A good friend and highly qualified public relations and marketing pro Mike Snyder was at the Summit representing his company The MEK Group. To Mike's credit he gets what this sector means to not only his business but also the State of Indiana. However, I do not consider his company an ad agency, and neither does he, so he is exempt from this post. Lucky you Mike. ;)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sony PS3 Animation

I saw this spot and think it is does a great job of telling the story of the Playstation 3 experience with animation and motion graphics. The spot does a great job of exhibiting the excitement, variety and attitude of the brand.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Dentsu Purchases Attik and Implications

If you are not familiar with Attik, you may be with some of their work, most recently the Little Deviants site they created on behalf of Toyota's Scion brand. A great campaign, and an even better micro site experience.

Recently Attik was purchased by Dentsu, Japan's largest ad agency. Attik started in the UK, and grew into a global interactive agency, having multiple US offices. Many in the industry have regarded this as a Japanese agency purchasing a US company. A trend is creeping into the recent purchasing trend for interactive content companies. International buyers of US companies. In the past it seemed many of the digital shops were purchased by large US ad conglomerates as a nice digital addition to an already bloated portfolio.

Recently it seems as though American creative in the digital arena is being snatched up by global suitors. There are a few implications that may start to occur:
1. International dollars fueling what may be an emerging bubble in the online space
2. Some large US players missing out due to aggressive non US companies that have money to burn
3. More new techniques and a broader range of styles, interface experiences and heavier interaction in this online creative - checked out many European or Japanese sites lately? Very innovative stuff going on in many cases.
4. Environments that are using mobile more ubiquitously and are leveraging faster connection speeds will be working directly with American companies that are not used to these environments. What effect will this have on our side of the pond?