How Vanguard does “social media” better than most companies @Vanguard_Group

I started investing last year after doing many months of research on where I should put my money. I ended up going with Vanguard and could not be happier. I am a big fan of indexing and fortunate enough to have Vanguard index funds in my 401k at work. (BTW, I recommended that everyone have index funds in their 401k – you can thank me after 25 yrs)

Being a marketer, I definitely follow Vanguard on Twitter and Facebook to see how a financial powerhouse like them use social media.  To my surprise, they are awesome. Social media is all about customer engagement but most companies use it as just another distribution channel. Social is all about engaging with your user base.  Getting feedback, answering questions and thanking your users from time to time is what its all about! Of course you want to push your content through social channels but it should only be about 20% of what you should do.  Vanguard has it all right.  I have asked questions through twitter, commented on Facebook, asked for some SWAG through these channels and received a response within 24 hours (and also my swag within a week). They always end the conversation with saying thank you to me for engaging with them.  They do A LOT more but I would encourage you to engage with them to find out for yourself.

The best surprise so far:  I received a thank you card from them for engaging on Facebook. Which is a great idea and was shocked to see it in the mail.  Even more shocking they gave me an extra blank thank you card with a note saying:

“Pay it forward! Use this extra note to thank someone who has inspired you to be a better investor!”

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How cool is that?  I would of never expected to get anything from them but it was cool to get a handwritten note mentioning my Facebook interaction signed by the person who I was connecting with at Vanguard. 

Vanguard my hat goes off to you for making me a better marketer. Keep on doing your thing.. I will always be a customer and a fan.

Thank you for doing social right! #Vanguarding

@MJASSAL

The Future of Marketing is bright! (and some factoids)

The future of marketing is bright, very bright!

I am fortunate enough to work for the largest technology research company in the world: Gartner

The biggest Symposium in the company’s history happened last week and I got to be a part of it. Met the worlds most insightful and sought after analysts. Attended some amazing sessions on future tech/marketing progress. Very cool week.

Marketing is going to be ruling technology. Its fascinating. Marketing is leading the way and technology has not other choice but to follow and keep up.

New emerging role: Chief Marketing Technologist 

Some of my favorite factoids of the week from the Symposium: 

  • Google’s ad revenue surpasses the entire U.S. print industry
  • Amazon’s warehouse space would fill over 700 Madison Square Gardens
  • 55% of consumers share their purchases on a social site
  • Truth in advertising: only 14% trust advertising
  • Google pockets half of all mobile ad spending
  • Greatest obstacle to digital transformation: lack of vision to define corporate strategy

@MJASSAL

@ThePitch_AMC is a great show for all ad agencies. That’s it, really.

I am glad #ThePitch came back for a 2nd season on AMC.  I think its a great way for agencies (I worked for 2 in my past life) to see what works and what doesn’t.  The best part of the show is the briefing and of course the Pitch.  The creative process is great as well.  The part that I do not like is the personal stories of everyone.  I do not want to sound rude but most marketers and advertisers watch the show for the agency content not how many kids the ad exec has.

I remember the last episode of the young ad agency executives from mischievous studios, who were specialists in viral videos getting it wrong.  As soon as I heard one of them say, its all about “entertainment” I had a feeling they were not going to win.  The simple reason why: its not all about entertainment.  Its about SELLING. 

The holy grail in marketing: Entertaining the consumer while subliminally selling your product creating brand equity.   

Sell

Ad agencies are here to sell the product.  That is their #1 goal.  Entertainment is part of the goal but not the goal itself. Many agencies are forgetting the sales part. Do some research and you will find that the majority of ad agencies who win creative awards do not hold on to the client for long because while the ad might have entertained, the sales were very weak.

Overall, love the show and I hope it keeps on going even though the ratings are low.  I am sure it costs them very, very little to produce the show so it works.  I also love interacting with people via twitter while the show is on… very cool. Keep it going AMC!

@MJassal

Simple Restaurant Marketing Tips that are Hardly Being Used

I had to write about this since its so weird how a few people are actually understanding the new marketplace for restaurants.  My wife and I eat out all the time on the weekends and love to try new places especially in our neighborhood so we can support our community.  The main 2 things people go to the restaurant for:

1. FOOD

2. SERVICE

First of all there are many places that cant even get both of these right.  But let’s say you have great food and great service but the volume coming in is still not making you any money… what else can you do?

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Let me give you an example of Indian restaurants, as you all know they pretty much have the same menu as every other Indian place. What you need to do is have a special dish that no other Indian restaurant serves and make sure its AWESOME. Make sure that it becomes the talk of the town. People will come in to try that and order other things off your menu. I know its a simple idea but no Indian restaurant within 20 miles of my house does this. If its really good it will get great PR and word of mouth (which is better than any other marketing in the world). 

Also, change it up a little. Why only serve chicken, lamb and goat. Serve some beef or pork. Make something special with those meats in an Indian spiced up way that has not been done before. You will get a whole new customer base. They will start to share it everywhere using all the digital sharing platforms out there.

This is not some miracle advice but just basic marketing tips utilizing some basic laws of marketing. I hope a place like this opens up in the near future.

@MJassal

@Famous_Daves knows how to get you to come back

I always wanted to go to Famous Daves and I finally got my chance.  The food was amazing but I have to say the service and marketing of the place is even better.  Cool things I noted from a marketing perspective from Famous Daves:

– You walk inside and you are transported to the South with the log cabin decor

– Waitress (her name was Mallory) asks if you are here for the first time (makes it special for us)

– Waitress gives my wife and I a free bottle of the sauce that I liked the most

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– We get a card for a free appetizer for the next time we come back

Restaurants need to do 2 simple things:

1 – Provide great food that is memorable (Ribs!!)

2 – Provide great service that is memorable (A well trained staff)

The rest of the marketing that you do is icing on the cake that will make me come back sooner rather than later.  Famous Daves does all of these things, no wonder the restaurant was packed on  a Tuesday night.  Going back this week!

Manpreet

@mjassal

Life Insurance and the Marketing for FEAR

Quick back story:

After getting all of my investing and retirement accounts in order a couple of my friends (one of them is a agent and the others father is an agent) suggested that I get Life insurance   I told them I already have term insurance and so does my wife.  They both told me that term is not good and I should get Whole Life Insurance. I asked them about the benefits of whole life and this is where the marketing of FEAR came out.  Here are some of the key phrases they both used:

– You might die broke

– Your taxes might be at 50% when you retire

– The world economy is so volatile you dont know when things will be stable

– The market (stock, financial markets) never returns anyone any real money

– You might die right after your term expires

– You need protection, term is not protection.

Since I am a marketer by trade, you have to know that these tactics do not work anymore.  10 years ago, maybe.  Right now there is so much information available to the common person that they can do their own research and look things up in an instant.  You should not market on fear since that does not do really well with anyone that has some sort of financial education in this case.

Only market on the benefits of the product. That’s it.  If someone doesn’t think the benefits relate to them at all or do not find anything useful in the product, then I would repeat the benefits or come at it on a different angle.  Marketing is about bringing value to the consumer not fear.  Needless to say, I did not buy whole life.

Manpreet Jassal

@mjassal

First time visit was an education and scam from @PowerHRG

I will try to keep this as short as possible.  I wanted to see if I needed a new roof after Sandy, luckily Power HRG (based in Melville, NY) was door knocking trying to solicit business. They knocked on my door and I made an appt for someone to come that night. 

They came about 30 mins early which I didnt mind, sat down and asked me some questions about my house. I told them everything, the guy then showed me videos, educating me on how roofers work.  I really liked being educated. He took me outside and measured the roof himself. I also told him I am thinking of replacing some windows as well.  He went back into his car and got some window products to show me and make me realize why they have the best windows in the world. By the way, he was in my house for 4 hours. I gave hints that I was busy but he still did his thing.

Here comes the (marketing) scam.  He basically created the estimates for the roof and windows separately and then told me his First Time Visit price. If I sign up and do my roof right now it will cost me 15k, if he has to come back it will cost 17k. You gotta be kidding me!! I mean really, 2k more for calling you back to sign up.  Of course this was a MAJOR turn off. He then told me his UPS analogy and how if UPS has to come to the house several times to get a package signed it costs the company a lot of money, so if he had to do the same it costs money. Sounded like a bunch of BS to me. I mean, how am I suppose to compare prices with anyone else? Talk about high pressure sales in your own house. 

Now as a marketer I know the whole shtick but the analogy does not make sense to me since I am the buyer. If I order something and UPS ships it, if they have to come to my house several times, I do not care since I am the buyer.  It costs the same to me either way!  UPS is showing their exceptional customer service and commitment to getting the goods delivered.  After that I thought I am not doing business with Power HRG, I just didn’t like their attitude towards potential customers.  It wasn’t the sales guys fault, he was just doing what he was trained to do, but the training he received was disappointing. 

Moral: Get your marketing story right and give exceptional customer service because that is what will take your from good to great! 

My humble advice to @Microsoft

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Microsoft recently came out with a new OS and tablet (surface) and the world was like “Umm.. ok, thats cool.”  The problem is Microsoft has taken the brand equity in our minds as an old software company for enterprises to utilize.  The cool factor does not apply to Microsoft at all and in my humble opinion the only way to fix it:

INVENT SOMETHING!

You have to stop copying what Apple is doing and make your own devices/solutions that will revolutionize the way people live their lives.  Just like what Microsoft did with Windows 95 and bought the power of user friendly computing to every household. As a marketer when I see the surface tablet ads, it does not leave an impression with me.  I forget the whole ad in seconds and move on to look at my iphone.  When I played around with it I asked myself what does this do that I already do not do with my ipad?  Answer: Nothing.

I am not an expert on technology (at least not yet) but in marketing (also positioning) you have to build a product that no one else has done before (a revolutionizing product) and take the first position category in someones mind. We know Microsoft has money, now all they have to do is get trendspotters, futurists and top minded technologists in a room to give is the next best thing!

Manpreet Jassal

@mjassal

@Jetblue is my friend

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I wanted to write this post a while ago but it slipped my mind.  So the story goes: I was coming back from Gartner Symposium and got to the airport (pre-checked online) to stand at the bag drop line for Jetblue. The line was long and slow. I saw a Manager (checking his phone every 30 secs, looking like he was texting) stand there looking like he does not care that the line is getting longer and only 2 people are helping at the bag drop counters.  

So I did what everyone should do, but they don’t.  I took a picture of the manager texting and sent it to @jetblue via twitter.  My message: Line is getting longer @jetblue and the manager does not care! 

The first response I got was from another person online saying that they “feel my pain.” I love that. But Jetblue got back to me in 2-3 mins saying asking me what airport I was at, I told them “MCO.”  They told me they will check whats happening and that the manager is only using his phone for work related stuff.   

Another 2-3 mins passed by more people came at the counter and the line started to move faster.  THAT’S THE POWER OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA! Jetblue wrote back to me that we asked and the manager was using his phone for work related issues and that the line is moving along well now. This was awesome. A regular passenger like me had power to make a difference! 

I have to commend and praise Jetblue on getting back to me in a timely manner, treating me like a human and not a number. Will I use Jetblue for a long time even though it might cost me a little more? You betcha!  

(I also love how they are helping out NY now after Sandy, which is why I posted their image) 

Manpreet

@mjassal