Posts Tagged ‘Chris Brogan’

Does the motor trade want to sell cars?

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 by Jon Clements

 

Are you in the market for a new car?

Good luck – you may have trouble finding a dealership wanting to sell you one.  Bear with me – this isn’t a post about cars, but about customer service.

This year, the UK’s retail motor industry welcomed, with outstretched arms, a new word into its lexicon – “scrappage”. In the middle of a thumping recession, the Government-funded scheme has helped the car business boost sales with a £2k sweetener for buyers agreeing to scrap their 10-year-old vehicle when buying a new one. Without it, the world of the motor trader in 2009 would have been a very different one.

A world without scrappage was depicted in a recent speech by Joe Greenwell, Ford’s UK chairman and president of the Society of Manufacturers and Motor Traders at its recent annual dinner. He said: “Without scrappage, this year’s total registrations would have been less than 1.7m. Against a high of nearly 2.6 million units in 2003, current expectations are for car registrations to fall to 1.8m in 2010. There is no doubt that..underlying demand remains weak.”

And this is the point. At a time like now, every customer counts.

It was Chris Brogan’s recent blog post on frustration with bricks and mortar retail that came to mind on a weekend trip to several high end car dealerships from which I came away convinced that some dealerships don’t want to sell cars.

First up – VW: we entered an empty showroom where the only person keen to talk was the receptionist. A salesman just about managed to grab some brochures but the car we wanted to see was “being used by a colleague over the weekend”. That’s fine, but did he want to arrange a viewing? No.

Next, BMW: we were sitting ducks, asking to be sold the benefits of a particular model. The salesman – not looking terribly busy – said: “I’ll get you a brochure. It’s all in there.” What about the boot space? The car battery was flat so the boot wouldn’t open. Now there was a veritable crowd of customers awaiting the grand boot opening. Eventually the lid was lifted and off the salesman skipped: “Leave it up, won’t you,” he chirped.

Lastly, Mercedes: best of the lot, but not great. We did get invited to sit down, but for a rather lacklustre chat about the car in question and promises about the great vehicles coming out of that manufacturer in the next couple of years.

For an industry facing a steep incline next year with a spluttering engine, it’s a worrying picture of customer interaction.

One man who knows a bit about car sales is one Derek Clements (disclosure: my father) who spent more than 50 years in the car business and ended his career training dealership staff in customer care. He said: “Getting new customer enquiries is expensive and dealers have to make the most of every one. It’s vital that sales staff make people truly welcome, comfortable and unthreatened before talking to them about what the customer wants or needs and matching that with the features and benefits of a car.

“In other words, make the customer feel important, listen to what they’re saying and start to build their confidence in dealing with you.”

With all this in mind, I asked Letty – a woman of advancing years and 10 years on the local Tesco checkout - what she felt customer service was all about and she said: “It’s just about being friendly. People seem so detached from each other these days and it costs nothing to smile.”

Listen to Letty – you could do much worse.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Love my company, love my blog

Thursday, March 26th, 2009 by Jon Clements


SXSW Flash Panel: Corporations & Social Media from Kipp Bodnar on Vimeo.

Once you’ve got over the initial impression that this is a convention of intellectual truckers, the above film is a great insight into how and why US companies are using social media – and particularly blogs – to facilitate a conversation with customers and understand what they really want.

Social media evangelist, Chris Brogan, brought together people from companies including GM, Crocs, Best Buy, Pepsico, AMD and Jet Blue to share their ways of working online.

And as one commentator on Brogan’s blog succinctly puts it, the value companies get from using social media is being able to say to their customers: “This is me. Love me. Hate me. But ultimately, tell me how to be better.”

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Ain’t she Tweet

Thursday, November 13th, 2008 by Jon Clements

Just when you’re waiting for something about Twitter to come along, a digital truck load arrives all at once.

Albert Maruggi - always a reliable listen – has a great podcast about how Twitter is more than just a way of micro blogging what you’re doing from minute to minute (though that happens too). He interviews Julio Ojeda-Zapata about his book “Twitter Means Business” and how Twitter can help build relationships with businesses and journalists.

Uber-blogger, Chris Brogan, gives a more personal take on what Twitter means to him plus some strategies on how to get the best out of it, without Twitter becoming a full-time job.

Finally, Stephen Davies over at PR Blogger, has created a roll-call (or Hall of Shame, depending on your viewpoint) of PR people now, officially, Twitter addicts.

As recession looms, anyone with a line in therapy for digital addictions is going to mop up.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Blogging means business

Friday, September 26th, 2008 by Jon Clements

 

The world of blogging, or should I say the Blogosphere, has had a thorough sifting and analysis thanks to leading blog search engine, Technorati. And some of the conclusions should add something to marketing departments’ “to do” lists.

The graph below shows the impact that blogging has had on professional and corporate bloggers, with the main benefit to businesses being a higher industry profile.

 

A good example of corporate blogging well done has to be that of Sun Microsystems’ CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, who manages to have a respectable blog “authority level” – that is the number of other blogs linking to your blog – without compromising the company’s image.

Social media expert, Chris Brogan, is one commentator who has lauded Schwartz’s blog for making the company appear human and having that extra, indefinable sheen that goes beyond pounds and pence.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

“I-Brand U-Brand”

Monday, September 8th, 2008 by Rob Brown
Personal Branding on the Social Web

twitter-pic.jpg

Why, I wondered does Neville Hobson hold his hand in front of his face in the picture on his blog…and on Twitter…and on…hang on a minute.

Is this a subtle form of personal branding?  Social networks; Facebook, Linked-In and microblogs like Twitter are growing fast and individuals are, if not clamouring for our attention, at least aware that there is a lot of noise out there.  If we are going to build an individual online presence it makes sense to follow some of the tradional rules of branding.  Consistency is one, which means using the same image across a range of networks.  Using a strong, stand out and easy to remember image is another.  Pr 2.0 gurus Todd Defren  and Brian Solis  both do this - Todd has a cartoon style image on his Twitter feed and Brian uses an arresting image with his specs in the foreground on his blog.  

Chris Brogan has just published an ebook on personal online branding so it’s a hot topic.  It’s an interesting read and looks at personal branding from a broad prespective.  What particularly fascinates me is the way in which people apply the iconographic rules that have histrically been used by brands totheir own images of themselves.  

This world has created some rules of its own.  Take a look at the picture above of some of the people I follow on Twitter.  These images are tiny, smaller than thumbnails, so making something work at this scale becomes part of the art.  Colin Byrne  CEO of Weber Shandwick and Deirdre Breakenridge author of the book PR 2.0 both use strong purple colours in their backgrounds to make them stand out.  Aleks Krotoski , presenter of The Guardian’s Tech Weekly podcast uses a close up of her fire red locks as her Twitter image (fifth row, left of middle).

I have no proof that any of these individuals have done anything other than post the first image they came across but whether by luck or good judgement they all stand out.  I have to confess I have toyed with the technique myself.  There is a deliberate use of colour in my profile pic and it seemed to me that if social networks use small images an extreme close up might be a good idea.  Charles Arthur Technology Editor of The Guardian didn’t agree.  He thinks I’m trying to hide a dodgy moustache

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann Erickson and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).