Monthly Archive: January 2011

You’ve Heard Of Slow Food. How About Slow Selling?

John Gerzema of Y&R’s BrandAsset Consulting is a pioneer in the use of data to identify social change and to help companies both anticipate and adapt to new consumer interests and demands. Gerzema also shares some of his findings in the pages of Inc..

In his latest piece for Inc., he examines eyeglass provider Warby Parker’s customer service model, what it means and what others might learn from it.

Warby Parker is built on an insight that eyeglasses are a distressed purchase. The eye chart is the easy part, but the vanity test is where the stress begins. Think about it: You stand in front of a mirror in the presence of a salesperson while choosing an expensive object that will be perched square on your nose for years to come. It’s a Seinfeld skit played out at the mall.

But Warby Parker is kind of like Lenscrafters meets Netflix. Simply upload your photo to their website and you can virtually try on every style of frame. Still can’t decide? The company will mail samples to you. Started by Wharton students Neil Blumenthal, Andy Hunt, Jeffrey Raider and David Gilboa, the company strives to make every aspect of the experience is relaxed and unhurried. Instead of pressuring you, they’re betting you’ll be a more satisfied customer if you get to make a buying decision in your own sweet time.

Warby seems to get that purchase funnels are now petri dishes…

I love how Warby is in no rush. This tells me they’re confident without being cocky.

Whether it’s products or services that one hawks, going against the grain by exuding a patient confidence might be a winning move.

How’s Your Influence In Digitally Connected Networks?

David Armano is extending his reach with a new article on Harvard Business Review’s blog, “The Conversation.”

Armano, a Senior Vice President at Edelman Digital, offers up six pillars of “the new influence” in his piece: Reach, Proximity, Expertise, Relevancy, Credibility and Trust.

I didn’t learn about influence from a book written by Malcolm Gladwell or by studying influence theory. I learned about it from years of active participation on the social web. It’s becoming more clear to the business world that this new kind of influence is more is critical to understand and harness. The increasingly skeptical but empowered public uses the Internet to bypass the middle men (like institutions) and go directly to the source.

In other words, a brand can’t rely exclusively on the old push models–advertising and PR, in particular–to create lasting and significant positive impressions among key constituents.

A better, more modern approach, is to do the heavy lifting required by social media marketing. Today, checking the brand’s Facebook page for new interactions has to be part of the marketing team’s daily routine. And brand managers need to develop keen listening skills if they’re going to actively participate in the community around the brand. Without active listening the brand has no awareness of who in their circle actually has influence. The old assumptions were the brand has influence and the media (where a brand runs ads or PR initiatives get turned into stories) has influence. There may be truth in those assumptions still, but it’s not the whole truth.

The whole truth from a marketing communications perspective requires a brand to open a new chapter in the playbook, study that chapter and begin to pursue the findings therein in the real, digitally connected world, where word-of-mouth courses through the network at lightning speed.