Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Two Days and Twitter

It has been a most enjoyable two days; Sunday and Monday.

On Sunday Bruce and Susan prepared a fine meal for his daughter, Danielle, and her boyfriend, Mike, which meant I got to go outside, as it was a BBQ and they ate at the picnic table in the backyard. I relaxed on one of the chairs. No beer or wine or steak for me though, just grass.

Bruce and Susan give me almost everything I want--most of all love. They have taught me the importance of consistency, praise, patience, and positive reinforcement.

Bruce says the focus of successful relationships (Business or Cats; LIFE!) keeping people, or cats, happy, is keeping the emphasis on serving rather than results, on involvement and personal touch, affection and care.

Meow! Meow!

Nothing wrong, says Bruce, with response rates, financial reports, and industry analysis, but once the focus goes too far in that direction, it is far to easy to lose sight of the value marketing ball, which is a matter of acting for the benefit and satisfaction of others. Value, says Bruce, comes from making a continuing contribution to a customer’s success or happiness.

Price and premiums may attract customers, says Bruce, but its knowledge and information, communication and constant giving, if you will, that sustains relationships. Price and premiums may get them in the door, but it does not keep them coming back. Doing it right may please customers, but helping them achieve their goals keeps them.

Bruce says Eccelesiastes reminds us there is a time to sow and a time to reap. He says people who are obsessed with either change or stability are bound to eventually harm their organizations. As visionaries people have to be able to sense when to exploit an established crop of strategies and when to encourage new ones to replace the old.

Which brings me to Bruce's post on his website BirchLane:

Bruce's friend from Twitter, Leslie Carothers, whose Grandfather, Jerold Frederic (I wrote about him a few posts ago) is a world-class pianist, has been very kind to promote Bruce's photography to Interior Designers, writes in her Blog at Furniture Today:

"Many of you know (but maybe a few of you don’t) that Kathy Ireland is the owner of Kathy Ireland World Wide and that KIWW is, according to Newsweek, a 1.4 billion dollar a year company which produces over 15,000 items sold to home furnishings consumers around the world through over 17 different manufacturer licensees.

"I knew Kathy was a huge and well respected name in the home furnishings industry and was very successful but it was not until our communication began on Twitter that I knew the woman behind the brand. And, now, I know the brand AND a bit more about the woman and so do 11,000+ other people who are following Kathy on twitter @KathyIreland.

"Here is what I know to be true about Kathy from watching her tweets over a period of weeks now:

"1. She tweets herself and does not pay someone to tweet for her. This is unusual for a major celebrity and shows me that she is willing to commit her most precious resource-time-to let people know who the woman is behind the brand. I admire this. As someone who tweets for a living on behalf of my clients, I know how much time it takes to be involved in authentic conversations. It shows me she understands the real power of Twitter-to build relationships by giving of herself in a loving, genuine and heartfelt way with many people from all over the world whom she does not know face to face.

"2. She is constantly reaching out to offer people hope and encouragement with their daily parenting (or other) challenges. This proves, to me, that she is genuine in living her brand as a Christian who is “providing real solutions for busy Moms.”

"3. She supports Feed The Children and many other charities and non-profits and is using Twitter and her celebrity status to help raise money for them-successfully.

"4. She speaks out about issues that are, for some, uncomfortable or unpopular. She is not afraid to take a stand and/or educate her followers/readers re: what she believes in. Even when people tell her not to do this, she still does. Kathy has a rare quality-courage. She could lose an endorsement or a licensee and she knows it, but she goes ahead because she knows how many parents and their children could be helped with the correct information. Is there a better definition of a leader? She is fearless on Twitter and I admire her for that alone.

"5. I know, from Twitter, that Kathy had to evacuate her family during the recent Santa Barbara fires, she has four children, she spends “bubble time” with them each day-no phones, no radio, no internet-no external stimuli whatsoever-just she and her kids with total focus on their needs.

"6. I know Kathy is very good friends with Elizabeth Taylor and that @DameElizabeth-as she is known on Twitter-adores Kathy in return.

"7. Kathy frequently asks her followers what THEY think about business decisions she is considering. For instance, recently, she asked her followers if they thought she should launch a new home magazine . She got huge feedback. Follow her and go back in her “tweetstream” and you will see the conversations and what the “twitterverse” thought of that idea. She understands the power of Twitter to “source the answers you are seeking from the crowd.” This is known, in the online world, as “crowdsourcing.”

"For instance, imagine you are going to High Point or Vegas and you have 1500 opted in consumers “following” you on Twitter. Why not ask them before you go something like this on Twitter: “Hey, we’re going to High Point to buy furniture for you, what would you like to see us carry?” ( And, furniture retailers like @iposit and @HighStyleClt are using Twitter to hire people, too.)

"8. Kathy understands that, through Twitter, when people admire and know WHO YOU REALLY ARE and WHAT YOU REALLY STAND FOR-OVER TIME, they begin to trust you and that this precious gift of trust is worth it’s weight in gold.

"Let me ask you this:

"At the end of the day, do you think that the people that are opting in to follow Kathy on twitter and ask her help and advice might just be a little more likely to walk into your store or go online and find out where they can buy a piece of Kathy’s home furnishings line? Do you think, if you are a manufacturer who licenses one of Kathy’s designs, that you might want to be on Twitter and talk with her to get the cross pollination that would develop as each of your “follower” groups witnesses the conversation between the two of you and jumps in with their own thoughts? If you are a furniture retailer carrying one of Kathy’s lines, do you think you might want to go on Twitter and talk with Kathy about how well her lines are selling, what consumers love or, even, what consumers are asking for? How valuable do you think this might be to you?

"I imagine Kathy knows the answer.

"Trust takes time. Building relationships takes time. Twitter accelerates the process over the entire world-in real time-allowing you to converse with potential customers in both your local trading areas or, if you are an ecommerce player, across the entire world. The choice is yours."

Bruce says he likes this Blog entry that Leslie write because it addresses the importance of dialogue in marketing. Trust comes from dialogue. And Bruce has first-hand experience with Kathy Ireland asking him on Twitter if Susan and he were happy with "her" lamps which they (and me!) have in the bedroom. His answer? A resounding "Yes!"

As Bruce wrote, All You Need Is Love.

When Bruce worked at Hearst Magazines, he once overheard a top circulation executive say to a copywriter, "that’s a beautiful direct mail package, but does it communicate that we love them?"

Personally, I like to keep in mind Bruce and Susan's philosophy: "We love our customers (and our Nadine!) and we will do whatever it takes to make them happy."

Ah, this is a long entry for me and it has made me a bit weary. Think I will take a nap in bed. Oh, and the lamps--they are Kathy Ireland lamps. Bruce and Susan have such good taste--and love.

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