Archive for February, 2010

What Twitter Users Will Do Next

February 23, 2010

Twitter was new, it isn’t any more. And that is going to change the way people behave on the platform.

One of the first things I think we can expect to see people on Twitter do is get more selective about who they follow.

Until now, this hasn’t really been the case, as users have tried to understand the platform by exploring it. In the process, following brands and people who under normal circumstances they may have not.

The behavioural norm on Twitter has been to follow someone – when they follow you. This has had a benefit – an increase in the number of an individual’s followers which for a while could be described as flattering.

I think most seasoned users are over that feeling now and will soon start to look for more control over their experience on the platform. Such control can only come from being more selective about the people and brands they allow on it as far as their sphere of personal influence and interaction is concerned.

I think people could well also start to develop multiple profiles on the platform based on how they plan to use it. People could well, for example, develop a personal and a professional handle to ensure their updates are relevant to the people who are exposed to them. Given the public, or ‘indiscreet’ nature of the platform, it seems only natural that people over time will want to separate their personal lives from their professional ones.

Whatever changes in behaviour do occur, one thing is certain. People will get more selective about who they follow – the simple desire to be more in control of their experience will ensure this.

The implication for brands – be genuinely interesting in your Tweets to consumers. That is, if you want them to continue following you.

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How Many Fans Does Your Brand Really Have on Facebook

February 23, 2010

Marketers have started to use ‘contests’ and ‘promotions’ in an increasingly frequent way to build fans for their brands on Facebook.

What they may be doing (and expensively too), is creating a collection of ‘contest enthusiasts’ rather a database of fans – in the true sense of the word.

Genuine fans have a high level of ’emotion’ and ’empathy’ to a brand and are unswerving in their loyalty to it.

However most contests and promotions are not designed to attract such fans (brand enthusiasts or advocates in essence) but a much more mainstream set of customers – including those who belong to competitors.

The result is that many brands have ended up with ‘so called’ fans as opposed to ‘genuine’ ones.

What do you do if you’ve built your fan base using contests and promotions?
The first step is to look at how you might segment it to understand who on your database is actually a fan and who is not.

A good way to do this is to use the principle of NPS (Net Promoter Score). NPS (www.netpromoter.com), was developed by loyalty guru Frederick Reicheld and is now a trademark owned by Bain Consulting and Satmetrix Systems.

What NPS helps you to do is break down your customers into 3 key segments – Promoters, Detractors and Passives – all by their responses to one key question ‘would you recommend this brand to a family member or friend?’

By breaking down your fan base in this way, NPS helps you to understand the emotional traction of your brand – its pull and strength in relation to your fans on Facebook.

What’s the benefit of undertaking this exercise?
It can help you get a more genuine, down to earth picture of the emotional strength of your brand as it relates to your fans on Facebook.

It can help you to figure out who’s a fan, whose not – and start to look at your strategy for Facebook with a  much clearer and better defined set of objectives.

And finally, when you segment your fan base this way, and apply the principle of NPS at regular intervals, you start to see whether the initiatives you’re undertaking on Facebook are having the desired impact and shifting the needle when it comes to your fans – or not.

The Most Effective Ads – The Ones That Confront

February 23, 2010

Some ads leave a lasting impression on people and re-frame the way they think and behave. They do so because they confront their audiences – usually with the truth about their perceptions – before proceeding to deal and convince them of their irrationality (if required) – in a direct and head on manner.

Two great pieces of communication that do this in my mind are ‘the Great Schlep’ with Sarah Silverman for Barack Obama by Droga 5 and an ad titled ‘prejudice’ that was done in 1994 for Hyundai in the UK.
The Great Schlep – Barack Obama campaign – Droga 5


Droga 5 did this viral video for the Barack Obama camp. It was aimed at the Jewish community and its goal was to overcome prejudice towards Obama given his African/American background and get older people down to polling booths to vote.

The video confronted the perceptions the community had towards Mr Obama in a direct yet humorous, funny and eminently watchable way as you’ll see when you hit the play button. The ad also used fact to highlight the importance of voting in certain states. It reminded people for example how Al Gore lost the election to Bush and the state responsible – Florida! All in all a great piece of communication – one of the most powerful I have seen.


Hyundai – “Prejudice”

Another super super ad that confronted people and made them think about what was really driving their decisions to buy a car was Hyundai “Prejudice” – written in 1994 for the brand in the UK.

The ad questions consumers on why they really wouldn’t buy a Hyundai. It confronts them with the dark truth that it might be due to something none of us in a civilised world ever want to be tainted with – prejudice.

The ad is on the line but doesn’t cross it. It is questioning but not accusatory. Beautifully scripted, it opens a doorway to viewers at the end – highlighting how though prejudice may exist – knowledge invariably overcomes it.

Hyundai Prejudice – another case of the Brits once again showing the industry the way. I saw that ad in the nineties and it left a lasting impression on me that I felt compelled to share.

You Have a Social Media Monitoring Tool. Now What Are You Going to Do With It.

February 22, 2010

Social media monitoring is high on everyone’s agenda at the moment. Technology companies have been quick to respond. They always are (they’re the guys who gave us CRM and Y2K remember!). They’ve now introduced tools that do everything from capturing conversations to segmenting them by sentiment – negative, positive and neutral.

The real challenge for brands though the way I see it is not capturing conversations but doing something about them.

This is not as simple as it seems.

Social media conversations – issues vary

Very often I’ve found that social media conversations relate to the way a product has been designed, built or sold. Sometimes they point to an issue with the way a firm hires or treats its customers. And in still more cases they suggest a need for ethics, or for a firm to re-look or refocus on key elements of strategy such as staff empowerment or business process – such as its decision to outsource for example.

These issues do not require a company to set up a blog or presence on Facebook or Twitter. What they require it to do on the contrary is “introspect” and make fundamental changes to the way it operates if it is to successfully change the nature of conversations consumers are having about it online.

Bose – the brand people love to hate (well some people anyway)
Bose is a high end audio brand with a significant amount of negative publicity online.

This is driven largely by the audiophile community who see the brand’s products as “overpriced” and “poorly built” using components that enable to maximise profits over performance.

Audiophiles (and they include high end audio dealers – a key influencing segment) – also rip into the brand for the way it chooses to sell its products. Bose insists on dealer exclusivity for example and does not allow customers to take their system home to try it before they buy it – a practice considered standard among audiophiles.

If Bose seeks to influence the conversations this segment (audiophiles) are having about it online, it will need to do a lot more than set up a blog or page on Facebook. It will need to relook its entire marketing value proposition – all the way from product design to build and sales experience.

Bose’s response to social media so far has been unimaginative. It sued Consumer Magazine in the US for a negative review for $200,000. Only a change in its fundamental approach to business will get audiophiles to think and talk differently about the brand.

The problem – no one will review Bose’s products any more. An issue given that when people buy an expensive audio system the first they do is check out its reviews online.

Walmart – people count – their opinions too
Walmart is America’s biggest retailer with 2 million employees worldwide.

Consumer groups and employees slam the brand for its policies on a range of issues -low wages, poor working conditions, predatory pricing – the list goes on.

The unions started websites like walmartspeakout.com to force the retailer to change its game. The comments on the site are damning like this one from a staffer who chooses to remain anonymous “I’ve only been with Walmart for 3 months, and can already see the writing on the wall. Low wages, backbreaking work, unaffordable health insurance, and no personal life due to a ridiculous schedule!”

To make matters worse, in Feb 2009, a 58 year old employee set himself on fire and died saying he “couldn’t take working there any more”.

What’s amazing about all this is that Walmart had embarked on a social media strategy which consisted of engaging with bloggers, providing them with news and information about the company and even inviting to Walmart’s headquarters to see how things worked – as far back as 2005!

The strategy clearly hasn’t worked, as negativity towards the brand has continued.

The reason Walmart’s strategy hasn’t been successful I think is because the brand’s focus is still on social media – not the issues it has raised and that it clearly still needs to resolve within its business. The only way the brand will change conversations is by taking the issues people have raised head on and doing something concrete to address them.

Nike – if the shoe fits – wear it
Few brands have faced as much damage to their reputation as Nike. The brand’s refusal to address allegations over its use of sweatshops in Asia were one of the key reasons that competitors like Adidas were able to re-emerge as challengers.

Today conversations about Nike and its use of sweatshops continue in social media. The new debate is about the use of China as a hub to manufacture. The issue – workers are paid not just low rates but organised unions are not legal so they can’t complain.

To influence conversations, Nike must address the issues they raise. Unless it does so, demonstrating in the process a visible commitment to fair wage levels, the conversations people have about it online will continue to be mixed.

United – if you’re going to break anything – make sure it’s not a guitar
When Dave Carroll, lead singer for Sons of Maxwell boarded a United Airways flight bound for Nebraska and looked out of the window he was horrified to find baggage handlers throwing baggage into the air cargo hold

Part of the baggage they were throwing, were his band’s expensive music equipment which included his beloved Taylor guitar.

He immediately informed the air stewardess about the matter and asked if she could do help. She said she couldn’t as the baggage handlers were not United Airlines staff but contracted agents. If Dave wanted them to stop he’d have to speak to them himself.

He did. But they brushed him away as they left the tarmac.

When Dave got to Nebraska he checked his guitar and found that it had been smashed due to the way it had been handled. He spoke to United about the matter for the next 6 months but they refused to replace or repair his damaged guitar.

So then Dave did what any musician in his shoes would. He wrote a song about his experience “United breaks guitars’. The song went viral and got more 6 million views on YouTube with 37,000 comments about other customers’ experiences with the airline.

The issue for United
It’s not Dave’s guitar. It’s the systems the airline had in place to address his complaint, the level to which staff were empowered to act and the Airline’s decision to outsource an increasing number of processes – baggage handling being one of them.

Sure United may have saved a bit of money by contracting baggage to an outside supplier. However in doing so the airline lost control over the quality of service provided. In the process, they damaged their reputation…and Dave Carroll’s beloved guitar!

To stem the flow of negative conversation online, United doesn’t need social media marketers or bloggers to help. It needs to get its act together internally. Only once it does, will it have any chance to move the conversations the right way.

You have a social media monitoring tool.
Question is – what are you now going to do with it now?

You could spend hours playing with the options the dashboard gives you. You could sit in on any number of presentations by consultants to show you month after month what the latest conversations about your brand online are. Or you could – once you’ve identified the issues – decide to act on them. Move your focus from outward to inward, involve your organisations key stakeholders – and work with them to develop a lasting solution – ground up – to addresses the problems customers have raised – whatever they may be.

What Makes A Social Media Strategy Work?

February 21, 2010

In my last post (below), I discussed the 4 levels at which companies are using social media. In this post, I look at another key result of my study – the 5 key things a firm needs to get right if its social media strategy is to work.

1. Clarity of Intent. For a firm’s foray into social media to be successful, its intent in terms of what it seeks to achieve from the exercise must be clear. In the case of Ford (the example I used in my last post below), the objective is very simple – position the company as open, honest and transparent. With Zappos they’re clear too – they want to be selling culture not shoes. Kickstarting the exercise with clarity of such nature is key to success.

2. Clear understanding of the medium. Social media works differently to traditional media. There are some things a brand can and can’t do. It would be a mistake for example to sell overtly on certain social media territories like Facebook. Moderation of content while always tempting is frowned upon by communities. They’re there to give opinions – brands that are afraid to accept them shouldn’t play in the space.

3. Adequate resource investment. Social media strategies require resource to manage them. People will comment, and brands will need to respond appropriately. Resource needs to be in place to allow them to do so. Nothing is worse than an untended initiative. And there are many of them by way of corporate pages on sites like Facebook. They get no traffic and damage rather than enhance the profiles of brands.

4. Dynamic not static engagement approach. It’s good to go in with a plan. It’s also good to keep the plan fluid. This can make the approach consistent but also responsive. Things change very quickly in the digital world. One needs to keep a close eye on change to ensure one’s strategy is always dynamic – and aligned to shifts that may be taking place in the market.

5. Management commitment. The last point that’s important for companies, once they launch themselves into the social media arena is to stay committed to it. Many brands, particularly if their strategy is designed to operate at a corporate level receive initial flak based on perception or earlier decisions. We are seeing that happen to the Pope in a big way for example. It’s all a natural process of catharsis. If a brand is serious about its social media strategy it will learn from it. And if it does, it will use the knowledge gained to improve the way it conducts its operations.

Social media is here to stay
It will soon, if it doesn’t already, exert an influence on the way your company is perceived at a corporate, brand, product or service level. By understanding how social media works (see previous post below), companies can harness its might to develop a powerful strategy to build a clear advantage for themselves over competitors.

The 4 Levels At Which Companies Are Using Social Media

February 21, 2010

There is more being written about social media than any other marketing topic today. And with good reason – social media has turned out to be a powerful determinant of a brand’s success.

Before a company ventures into the social media arena however it pays to take a look at what others before them have done in the space. Recently I did a study on the social media strategies of organisations and found they were using them at four key levels:

1. Corporate
2. Brand
3. Product
4. Service

Corporate
Ford Motors – open, honest and transparent

Ford Motors is one company that uses social media – and effectively too – at a corporate level. Ford’s objective is clear – it wants to be seen as “open, honest and transparent.”

As Scott Monty, Head of Social Media at Ford said in an interview with Freshnetworks Blog “we share with the public anything on our intranet that is not commercially sensitive.”

He isn’t kidding. The company is an open book and shares everything from investments the company will make to redundancies of staff and dealers that may be coming.

Ford has also set up a website called ford.digitalsnippets.com where bloggers and anyone writing about Ford can download digital assets and use them at will on their sites. Ford has realised an important point:

In social media, brands that win will not be those who write about themselves but those who get others to do so.

The multiplier effect has never been more important.

Zappos – people buy culture before they buy shoes
Another company that uses social media at a corporate level very well is online shoe company – Zappos. The CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh is second only to Obama in terms of following on Twitter. It isn’t hard to see why. He is insightful, inspirational and sometimes just downright funny.

Some of his posts – “Going fishing for first time with board member. Think they may be taking this thing of teaching a man to fish too seriously

Or “I try not to carry grudges, but I’ve decided I’m no longer going to be friends with the guy who invented 6am flights.”

Tony uses his Twitter feed to evangelise the coporate culture at Zappos – realising it is unique and what puts Zappos ahead. The company will give new staff members $1000 to leave after their first week of work for example if they decide they won’t be able to accept the culture or live up to its high service standard policies.

Their charter – “delivering WOW through service”, “being humble” and “creating fun – and a little weirdness.” You can check out Tony Hsieh’s Twitter feed at http://www.twitter.com/zappos

Brand
At a brand level there is no dearth of companies who have used social media well.

Burger King – cheeky and irreverent
One campaign that is fantastic is Burger King Sacrifice. Burger King asked fans a simple question – did they love the Whopper more than they loved their friends? And if so would they delete a friend for a free Whopper voucher?

Well many did. To the extent that Facebook stopped the campaign. The bloggers went to work and the rest as they was history. Burger King established itself unequivocally as the most cheeky and irreverent brand in the burger industry – which differentiates it nicely against its competition.

Gillette uART – making shaving fun
Another great example of social media use at a brand level is Gillette. Gillette came up with this cool iPhone app called uART that allows you to put a beard on a friends picture, and then using your finger as a razor – shave it off. You can save and share the look which is often hilarious.

It sounds like fun – but in my view the intent could never be more serious.

Gillette is a brand that to younger audiences could easily be seen as “their dads’!” Gillette uART is a great way for the brand to connect with these audiences and be fresh, relevant and appealing to them.

The Pope – now also on Facebook
The Pope is also using social media at a brand level – a few months ago the Pope launched his page on Facebook. The Pope is using social media to understand brand momentum and customer sentiment towards the Church.

It didn’t take him long to find out – fans were vocal with their points of view – as you’d expect them be and attacked the Pope on the Church’s stance on a number of issues- the use (or non use) of condoms, gay marriages, the policy of male only Priests, their vows of celibacy – the list goes on.

From the comments, the Pope will have understood by now the Church has an issue – one of both momentum and relevance – both of which are seen in dwindling attendances at Sunday service.

The move to establish a presence a Facebook is a brave one however. This awareness can result in a strategy – a change – that can bring the sheep back to the shepherd.

Product
The third level at which people are using social media is product.

Volvo XC 60 – taking the car and the inspiration to the people
In a recent campaign out of New York for example Volvo set up a You Tube channel for the launch of the new XC 60. The channel featured a number of videos including two powerful ones from designers Jonathan Dissley and Steve Mattin – who describe the inspiration behind their design of the car.

In addition to a presence on You Tube the brand also had images of the car distributed on Flickr and information made available to owners of key auto blogs.

Social media at a product level – infinitely more is possible
Marketers can use social media at a product level in many interesting ways. Besides using it to talk about products, they could use it to develop new ones as well. Concepts can be tested ahead of launch and a decision as to whether they should be progressed or not taken based on feedback from the people.

Google frequently adopts this approach. Most of the products it launches (including Chrome) are available in beta form. Then, based on user experience they are modified – launched or shelved. This is a clever strategy as people’s expectations of a beta product are usually lower – making them less critical of it – which gives marketers more time to get it right.

Service
Comcast – using customers to provide the answers
Finally companies are also using social media at a service level. Comcast for example, a Pay TV and Internet service provider uses Twitter to respond to customers’ questions or address feedback or a negative comment.

What I noticed as I went through the feeds was that often other customers would jump in and provide a solution to questions customers posted. What a great way to amplify the size of your customer service cell – at no additional cost.

Four key levels – which one for you
There are four key levels at which companies are using social media. Which level is right for you? It depends on your objectives. You can use social media at a single, multiple or at indeed all levels depending on the challenges facing your brand or the opportunities you’d like to take advantage off.

If youth is an attitude, here’s a brand with plenty – Paul Smith for Evian

February 21, 2010

I am always excited by a good brand idea and I think this is definitely one.

Evian has tied up with British fashion designer Paul Smith who has designed a special edition bottle for the brand which goes on sale in November just in time for Christmas.

What I like about the idea (and it is clear when you watch the video) is its tight fit with the brand and what it’s all about – youth.

Firstly the fact that Evian has used an older person like Paul to deliver its proposition of youth is both fresh and inspiring. As Paul says “youth is not a question of age, but a question of attitude.”

Most creative people are child like (they need to be to break new ground) and Paul is clearly no exception. With a studio full of toys and other bright and colourful items, Paul comes across as a credible and natural endorsement for the brand and its proposition of youth.

Finally as a successful, but also convivial fashion designer he is an effective brand spokesperson – likely to easily connect with Evian’s audience.

“Life is about living young and enjoying yourself everyday” Paul says. Who would want to disagree with that?

Should a brand listen to its customers?

February 21, 2010

It’s what all brand gurus advocate – or most of them anyway.

It’s an idea, the usefulness of which, when taken beyond a limit though – I must admit I question. The reason – a lot of brands have found themselves in trouble because they were listening when they should have been envisioning instead.

Coke was one such brand. They listened to what people said about Old Coke and their strategy was …well…to take it off the shelf. A “classic” blunder endlessly documented.

Ogilvy makes a good point on listenership – the context being research. “It’s a lamppost” he says, “use it for illumination – the way an intelligent man does – not for support – the way a drunk might.”

We all use research to base decisions. Nothing wrong with that. But sometimes what we as brand marketers think is more important than what consumers’ do.

Henry Ford summed it up best when he said “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse!”

Marketing in a recession

February 21, 2010

Marketing in a recession

Singapore is in a recession, as are most of the top twenty developed nations of the world. In most organisations, the reaction is predictable. Cut marketing budgets – every one else is. Yet, doing so could be one of the most myopic decisions a business could make.

Why?

When a market is down, prices are too
Marketing any product or service involves a cost. When times are good and economies are booming, this cost is higher than normal. The reason is simple. There are a far greater number of firms competing for the attention of the customer. For a marketer to stand out – or simply be heard – they must put a lot more weight behind their media spend.

In a market that’s down, however, many competitors withdraw completely from the market or significantly lower their media spend. This presents the astute marketer with a priceless opportunity to buy media impact at a fraction of what it would normally cost.

Let’s illustrate the point with a simple mathematical example.

Let’s assume the the total media spend in the banking industry in Singapore in 2008 was 50 million dollars. Bank A’s budget was 10 million dollars. What this means is that its category share of voice is 20%.

Let’s assume in 2009, all the major banks cut their media spend which drops the total category spend to 40 million dollars. If Bank A maintains its budget of 10 million dollars, its share of voice has increased. It has moved from 20% to 25% – without any additional expense or outlay of funds.

In this situation, the marketer has gained at least in media terms.

The next question though is how to use these gains for strategic impact and advantage
Sure you have an opportunity to buy media (or more specifically the opportunity to be heard) at a lower price. But the real question is what are you going to do with your buy, what are you going to invest it in?

The choices are many. You could use your low cost media space for promotional purposes – to try and sell more products during the recession and stimulate short term demand – or you could use it to build your brand and create equity for the long term.

Many marketers will go for the short term solution and try and stimulate sales demand during the recession itself through incentives and price-off’s. Changing market sentiment is difficult enough for Governments though, leave alone a single brand. In all likelihood – you will find it proves an uphill task depending on the product category that you’re in.

Then more appropriate solution in my view is to focus on the long term and use your media investment to build your brand. To take the time to understand what it means (if you haven’t done that already), what makes it unique, different and compelling to your audience and then convey this difference to them in the most impactful manner possible.

What this approach will do is prepare you and your brand for success when the market turns. When the ice of the recession shows its first signs of retreat giving way to the first buds of recovery and growth.

If you have used the recession to build your brand, then you will have gained during this period of uncharateristically low marketing activity a strong lead over your competitors in terms of your brand’s awareness, knowledge and preference – factors that ultimately lead to higher sales, growth and profit.

Recession. Crisis or opportunity?
The recession is here. And it’s both a crisis and opportunity. The question is how you are going to use it to build your brand’s future benefit, advantage and success.

Needs you may not know your customers have

February 21, 2010

One-to-one marketers have traditionally focused on satisfying the functional and emotional needs of their customers. A bank knows that a customer who has just taken out a home loan will soon have a need for home insurance. This is a functional need that it quickly moves to serve.

The same bank also knows that all customers are not created equal. Some are worth more than others – and have an emotional need to be recognised as so. The bank caters to this emotional need through loyalty programmes, reward and recognition initiatives and exclusive service privileges.

But consumer needs are not just physical and emotional. They also cover ground that is increasingly social, moral and environmental.

No man is an island – the social needs of consumers
We all feel the need to belong. Be it to a family, country or tribe. When marketers tap into this innate need, they are able to create greater affinity for their products.

The Harley Owners Group (H.O.G) – if everyone could join it, they would
Harley-Davidson is not a motorcycle – it’s a way of life. The company’s focus on the social needs of its customers is one of the reasons why this is the case.

H.O.G. or Harley Owners Group was introduced in the nineties with a simple purpose – ‘to bring Harley owners together – to ride and have fun.’

The more than one million H.O.G members spread across 1200 H.O.G chapters across the world meet monthly and organise events that include dinner rides, parades, toy runs, parties and social get-togethers.

A key objective of Harley’s relationship management strategy is to bring members together to create a sense of kinship and community. It is this kinship and community that has contributed to the fervent loyalty its customers have to their brand.

We all want to sleep at night – the moral and ethical needs of consumers
In the past, we cared less about where and how products were made and profits distributed.

Not any more.

Now, increasingly, we want to know that the money we spend on coffee is reaching the guy who grows it. That the pair of sneakers we wear weren’t made by children the age of our own. And that the money we spend on goods and services funds more than just the lifestyles of an astute few in business.

Project Red – all things being equal they are not
Of 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS across the world, 22 million (or 69%) are from Africa. Worse, the number is growing at the rate of a thousand new infections every day.

Enter Project Red – an initiative of rock-star Bono and social activist Bobby Shriver. The aim of Project Red is very simple – use consumers and the power of choice they wield to make change in the places that need it most.

Brands that sign on to Project Red pledge to donate up to 50% of their profits to AIDS-related projects in Africa; brands that have signed on include American Express (the Red Card), Apple, Motorola, Armani Exchange and Dell.

Think about two credit card mailings you receive. One offers you the chance to win a million rewards points. The other offers you the opportunity to help people afflicted by one of the most terrible diseases of our time.

Which card would you choose?

Again, understanding how customers’ needs are starting to go beyond themselves can help an organisation develop relationship management strategy that is less transactional and more transformational in terms of impact on its business.

What good is progress if we will ultimately have no place to enjoy it?

The environmental needs of consumers
In 2007, the Stern Report and Al Gore’s inconvenient truths made ordinary people – and Governments across the world – sit up and take a closer look at damage being caused to the environment.

The result has been a level of awareness and concern that corporations can no longer ignore. A few have responded positively – strengthening existing customer relationships – and building new ones.

Off to a flying start – the Qantas ‘fly carbon neutral’ programme.

In September this year, Qantas launched a unique new programme that positions it as one of the most progressive airlines in the world.

The programme sees Qantas make serious investments in its business to reduce carbon emissions. It also allows its customers to make a contribution to offset their individual share of emissions. The contribution is as low as $8.40 for a flight from Sydney to Singapore which goes towards carbon abatement projects in Australia.

In 2006/7, Qantas claims to have saved 280,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions through its programme; the target is 870,000 tonnes annually by 2011. To further demonstrate its commitment, the airline earmarked September 19 (2007) as ‘world carbon neutral day’ – funding the carbon emissions of all passengers on all its flights across the world.

Qantas is an airline in touch with reality – and good customer relationship management strategy. Its investment in the programme is likely to be modest compared to the brand and customer equity it is likely to generate for itself through its operations across the world.

Relationship marketing is moving on
You can’t build relationships any more by focusing solely on the functional and emotional needs of your customers. You can’t rely only on loyalty programmes, contact programmes, freebies, offers, price offs, and other exclusive service privileges. To build strong and enduring relationships, organisations need to go beyond the strategies of the past – understand the changing mental and social mindsets of consumers, and tailor th