Brave New World

If you’re considering a technology shift in your product, take a moment to consider something most companies don’t – your customers. When I worked for a large chemical company years ago we were always changing some formulation without considering that many of our customers had optimized their processes for a modulus of X when running ABC123. Recent events with my cable provider have extended this into the brave new world of integrated communications.

These folk are currently doing a migration to a digital system in my area. I learned about it with a rather abrupt letter that arrived in my mailbox. No real discussion of benefits, only that I needed to get some new hardware, hook it up to all my TVs, and then activate with them.

This is a great example of where marketing communications can help. Instead of positioning this with customers through direct mail, spot cable ads, and online we get no communication of benefits, only what we’ll give up if we don’t migrate. Then when it comes time for the migration, I wait an hour in an understaffed office to get hardware. When I hook it up, only 50% seems to work and the support person on the phone has an urgency to get me off the phone quickly. Again, with no promise of benefit to me as the customer.

But, in today’s world of social media, the stakes are far higher. When I added a mention of my frustration to my Facebook page, it immediately lit up with comments (mostly critical) from friends. A quick scan on Tweetdeck shows pretty heavy traffic on this topic. The moral of the story? If you don’t handle marketing communications properly up-front, your customers may handle it on the back end, and you may not care for the result.