Kiddy Cell Phones Dropped by Carriers

Verizon and Cingular have both discontinued the sale of their feature-limited cell phones targeted at children. (See RCR Wireless story.)

This doesn't mean that things aren't going well with younger children. It's just good business sense. The challenge with the phones is that they serve a niche market just like phones at the high end ($400+) which are also sold elsewhere (e.g., Nokia's flagship store on 57th in NYC). It's a niche market because the majority of parents we've surveyed with children under the age of nine years simple feel their child is too young for a cell phone of any kind. The tween market will be hot in 2007 according to our data, but once these kids hit late grade school years/junior high, they want the real deal as Verizon found out.

I have a report to be published early next month on selling cell phones to second graders that will explore this topic in depth.

Niche products have the challenge of inventory costs, fighting for limited shelf space, educating sales staff on a product they won't be selling often, etc. The kid products have the added challenge that they don't typically generate high ARPU contracts as they are prepaid or add-on's to their parents' contracts.

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Transforming employees into brand advocates

Using employees to make your brand more customer centric emerged as a key theme in our Marketing Forum.  Cindy Commander, an analyst for Forrester's CMO Group, recently conducted some research in this area.  She Cindy noted that Bain found that 80% of companies believe that they're delivering a superior experiences to their customers, but only 8% of customers agree!  Employees are central to delivering a strong, consistent customer experience.  But only 26% of customer experience professionals think that employees share a vision of the customer.  So, there's a huge incentive to bringing employees into the brand.

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Making the best use of mobile

Mobile marketing.  It's new.  Some marketers are happy to experiment while others look on with skepticism until the channel matures.  Christine Overby and Charlie Golvin helped Forum participants navigate this new channel:  they're like peanut butter and jelly - Christine comes at mobile from the marketing side and Charlie approaches marketing from the mobile side.  Both believe that mobile is a viable marketing channel, but marketers need to embrace the warts in the mobile experience as features not shortcomings.

The crowd at the Forum, not surprisingly, is ahead of the curve in their use of mobile:  texting, mobile Internet, and applications.  But, Forrester data shows that only a third of mobile phone owners send or receive a text message, and only 11% use the mobile Internet.  What do early adopters look like? No surprise:  they're younger (almost 80% of 18-24 year olds use any form of messaging). Surprisingly and related to what I wrote earlier that the US was behind in their use of QR codes, use of the mobile Internet in the US and Europe is equivalent. 

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Have You Ever Considered Yourself Switched On? Futurecasting Personas with Organic


Organic begn he session by asking the quetion: Have You Ever Cnsidered Yoursef Switched On? To answer this question, there were 10 questions that required an answer:
Have you ever...

Sent a picture through your mobile phone?
Captured videos on your phone? In the alterntive, captured videos at all?
been to Second Life?
Do you get more News frm RSS than CNN?
Have you unlocked an achievement on XBox Live?
Do you know what an achievement is on Xbox?
Have you reserved a zipcar?
Know what Zipcar is?
Got a Pirius through Zipcar?
Moved a TV Show from DVR to Ipod?
Had emails read to you while driving?

The point of determining if you are switched on? You could be part of the switched on Persona. The Persona of the future is the way that Organic suggests that we move...things are changing fast and the Persona of today could soon be the Persona of the past. Make sure that Persona you are developing is looking toward the future.

How?

Here are their suggestions, which are good ones even if developing Personas is not part of your strategy:

Invest in a digital strategy

Study the trends affecting your customers

Get saavy about emerging platforms, media and technolog.

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Kia Motors shows the heart of B2B marketing

Ian Bevis explained Kia's incredible growth in the auto industry and shared some humorous ads, but the more interesting story is the way they treat their relationship with dealers.  Kia needs to understand their dealers in addition to understanding their end customers because if the dealers don't sell their products, neither the Kia nor the dealers make money.  How do they build their relationships with dealers?  First, they understand dealers' primary motivation:  they're smart business people who want to make money.  Second, they leverage Kia's Web site:  e-leads are up, total traffic is up, and no surprise, sales are up, too.  Third, they shift employees around between the sales and marketing groups.  B2B marketing, like B2C marketing, needs to be an emotional proposition and needs grounding in knowledge of the customer.

Delivering Great Customer Experiences

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Principal Analyst Kerry Bodine provided the Forum audience this morning with an overview of what makes great customer experiences.  It requires employees with the right skills to build these experiences, processes to drive them forward, and an organizational culture ruthlessly focused around the consumer.

For marketers at companies just starting on a path towards customer-centricity, Kerry provided these first baby-steps:

1) Make this your mantra: “truly understand customer needs”

2) Look at your Web analytics log files

3) Listen to your customer service calls -- Find out what problems customers are reporting, and what kind of experiences they’re having with your call center.

4) Bring your customers in for usability testing -- this can be simple and informal

5) Observe your customers in the wild -- “channel you inner anthropologist”

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Key themes from day one

Last night after the Acxiom party, we (Elana, Harley, Cliff, Ross, and I) met to debrief all of yesterday's keynotes.  I had strong objections against including the "beer-a-mid," a reference to Pete's speech and the town of Wellesley's recycling program, in this morning's remarks, but after I went to bed, it appeared in the talk. Beeramid_2

So what should you remember?

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Lester Wunderman: Keynote Thursday

Charlene Li introduced Lester Wunderman.

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He began by stating that we are in the business of creating relationships between buyers and sellers..this is not new, We need some new rules to adopt to the  online world; we don't need new principles.

Relevance, relationships, repurchase and retention; these are the 4 R's for Direct Marketing.

Ask yourself, which product do you buy over and over again and why?

Would you like to be rewarded for your loyalty? He says we are not loyal to products the same way we are to family and friends..That is why relationships are so important. Satisfaction is the keyword.

We must satisfy our customers...the basic thought is the principles that he has been advocationg for years about relationship marketing can be enhanced through tecnology. Use technology to improve the delivery. Delivery of what? The delivery of the relationship. The dialogue.

Satisfaction, relationship, and loyalty...they can be enhanced online. Embrace the technology. Repeat.....embrace it. Add technology to death and taxes to the things that cannot be avoided.

Other comments from Mr. Wunderman: Internet marketing is a strategy, not s tactic. Some rules he notes: Create relationships Trust is the basis. Be accesible to your customers You are what you know

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Lester Wunderman

Yesterday in a conversation with Charlene Li which I will be posting in greater detail later, she mentioned that Lester Wunderman believed that there was no such thing as customer loyalty...that businesses needed to consistently and constantly satisfy their customers; this begins with listening. And with the thought of listening, I am looking forward to his Keynote which begins in a few minutes.

Lester Wunderman, Forrester Marketing Forum, Charlene Li

Ted Schadler: Behavioral Targeting and Using Online Data To Reach Customers

Ted Schadler began his session on behavioral targeting by saying that segmentation is shorthand for understanding customers. He said that segmentation allows marketers to reduce the diversity of consumers to groups that have similar characteristics.

What is the right segmentation? The one that predicts the behavior that you care about. there are three kinds of segmentation: Demographic, Attitudes, and Behavior. Ted highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of each kind and concluded that behavior is the most predictive and therefore the one of most interest to marketing. Simply put, past behavior typically provides insight into future behavior.

The Internet is a rich source of predictive behavioral activity. How to get started? As always, begin with what you want to know and do.

    1. Identify the behaviors that best mirror your product or service.

      2. Begin by looking at who has the enabling technology

    3. Target potential buyers by previous behaviors.

    4. Narrow focus to likely adopters based upon the intensity of their previous behavior.

This was a fascinating session and I will post more later today.  Best chart:

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