This is a transcript of an audio podcast.
Editor's Note: This is episode 4 of 8. If you are just jumping in, you might want to start with the transcript of episode 1.
Lee Odden: Welcome to IBM Press Podcast series of Mike Moran and Lee Odden. My name is Lee Odden CEO of TopRank Online Marketing and Executive Editor of marketingblog.com. TopRank is an internet marketing consulting agency that provides enterprise, search engine optimization, social media, and online public relation services for clients that range from Hewlett Packard to McKesson. Our guest is Mike Moran a distinguished engineer from IBM. The credentials list of Mike Moran is nearly a mile long. He is the author of two very important books, the new Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules and Search Engine Marketing, Inc. Mike has more than 20 years experience in search technology. In fact, he led the original search marketing strategy for IBM.com as well as the integration of IBM.com’s site search technologies. Mike worked on IBM’s website for eight years and now works on IBM’s OmniFind Enterprise Search and Analytics Products. In addition to his search work, Mike is also a columnist for Revenue Magazine and WebProNews. He also writes a very popular blog called "Biznology," which you can find at mikemoran.com. We are on the fourth of our series of eight podcasts. In this fourth podcast, we will talk about the new customer relations and how your web experience is your new brand image.
LO: In chapter five, Mike, you talked about the new customer relations in terms of look, feel, sight, sound, and touch. Can you describe the importance of that for marketers?
Mike Moran: I think that for some traditional marketers they might be puzzled when we talk about those kinds of things because their idea is, "Well, I’ve seen the website; it has our corporate logo up there, and it looks okay. What other brand image are we looking for?" That’s kind of a marketing communications approach to brand image. It makes sense that people would come out from that perspective because in the old world marketing communications was pretty much all you had. You could send out brochures; you could have commercials; you could do certain things; and you were communicating everything outbound to the customer. The difference is that people make up their mind about your brand based on many other things besides your marketing communications. This is always has been true. They care about how your product actually worked after they used it. They care about the kind of service they get when they complain about something. They care about whether you knew how to bill them properly. They care about how your sales person treated them. All these things make up your brand image even though marketers haven’t traditionally been concerned with it because there are other departments in the organization that deal with those things. The web is a little bit different because the web is a place that marketing can control that is interactive. So the experience that people have with the website is something that really speaks to how they feel about your brand. If they find the website to be difficult, if they find themselves squinting at the screen every time they try and figure out what they pick, if they get lost, if they can’t find things in your search engine, if they have to put things in their cart and go all the way to the end before they find out what your shipping charges are, all these kinds of things are going to annoy customers and those things really detract from your brand image even if you are doing every thing else right. Understanding all of the different ways that marketers have to be involved in the website, not just what the content is, but also in the design, in the user experience, in the way that customers interact from start to finish, those are really critical parts of your brand image.
LO: So in much the way that we talked about a holistic approach to testing and measuring results and revising and all the different ways of communicating with the website, it sounds like we really need to look at all the ways in which customers can interact on the web with a particular brand as significant influencers of that brand experience.
MM: The thing that’s tricky is that marketers usually haven’t thought of themselves as being responsible for that. They thought of themselves as being responsible for whatever the outbound message is; what the words are on the screen that people talk about. Maybe they’ve had people that were responsible for putting product images up, but they haven’t really thought that they were responsible for how fast the website is or whether the shopping cart works properly, and in a sense, they’re not. I mean there are specialists that do all those things. But the marketer really has to be the one who is asking questions, who is trying to be the ombudsman for the customer, who is trying to really say, "Hey, there is a certain image we’re trying to convey. If our shopping cart doesn’t work every time, that’s a problem. If our website is so slow that people get frustrated, that’s a problem. If our web design looks like it was done in 1998 and never repainted, that’s a problem." So even though that’s not your area, it’s part of what you have to do in order to protect your company’s brand image.
LO: Many marketers traditionally had the position of being responsible for controlling their brand image. What do they think about the notion of paying attention to all these different aspects of the web experience?
Mike Moran: I think it can be scary. I think that there is a certain comfort in being able to say that’s how our commercial looks, no matter what television station plays it, it will always look that way. Or those are the pictures for the product, and our product will always look like that, and that’s how we want it to look. With the web, there are so many more moving parts that you really can feel a little overwhelmed at the whole prospect of saying how can I control how people feel about my brand when I don’t even understand all these principles of how someone would interact with the website or whether it is easy for them to find things. And the answer is that you don’t really have to know everything about it; you don’t have to know as much about it as the people who specialize in doing it. But you have to come at it from the customer’s point of view. You have to know enough that you can ask good questions, that you can ask questions about how they are testing these things, and how they know the things they are doing are correct.
All the feedback mechanisms that you’re learning to try and tune your marketing message you can use as well to make sure that your site is performing the way it should, to make sure that the people are responding to it the right way, to make sure that the conversions are happening. Just because conversions aren’t happening doesn’t mean that the marketing message is wrong. There could be many other things that are wrong with the website, and that’s what you have to focus on and make sure that all those groups who are responsible for those things will respond to that customer feedback the same way you’re going to change your marketing program to do that.
LO: Mike, marketers may not be used to dealing with all these different specialists. What advice can you give on interacting with these kinds of specialists that marketers may have not had to deal with before?
MM: Well, I think that it seems new because they may not have ever dealt with a programmer or a webmaster and there is a lot of people out there that they may, you know, they dress funny and they are all wearing black and you know there are these strange people that they may not have been ready to work with. But those people are not much different than the creative people that they work with on other things. So, I mean there were always people in marketing who responsible for writing copy, for taking the pictures, for designing the logo, and for all the kinds of things that you did with collateral from the olden days. And you didn’t understand necessarily everything it is about what they did, but you understood enough to be able to talk to them, to be able to direct them, to be able to explain to them what’s important. And to be able to convey to them what kind of mood you are trying to create, what kind of customer you are attracting, which this market segment cares about, all those kinds of things are things that you already know how to do because you dealt with specialists all your life in marketing. Hence, you can deal with these ones too which is may be that you know a little bit less about what they do than you know about what traditional marketing specialist do. And so it will take some time for you to get comfortable with them and develop that relationship, which you already know how to do that. You just don’t know you know.
LO: Excellent. Again, sage advice.
LO: Well, that concludes the fourth of our eight podcasts from IBM Press and our discussion with Mike Moran. Your book is called Do it Wrong Quickly, and there are some questions that come up about how you go about doing that. How do you start, and how do you know what wrong is? That’s the topic of Episode Five of our podcast series. For more information on Mike Moran and about the two books that he has written, Do It Wrong Quickly and Search Marketing, Inc., please visit mikemoran.com. This series is brought to you by IBM Press at www.ibmpressbooks.com.