So this is a little something that we haven’t done in a while over here at the Brains on Fire Blog. The “You don’t Need Us Awards” celebrate the brands and businesses that are doing such an great job already connecting with their customers and advocates that, well, they they don’t need us.
I’m happy to say that Penzey’s Spices is one of those brands. Penzey’s is an purveyor of fine herbs and spices that is based out of the U.S. My mom is a bit of a gourmet, and I grew up with their catalog always within reach in and around the kitchen area of our house. She still uses them exclusively to purchase all of her spices and spice mixes from. There is bound to be someone that asks about them at any given dinner party, and you can count on Mom to create one or two new customers for Penzey’s that night.
With that said, here are the reasons that they don’t need us.
1. They have a fantastic product:
They are the place that you can look that obscure spice that Julia Child requires for that duck recipe that she wrote in the 70’s. Not only will they have it, they’ll have four varieties of it. On top of that, each spice jar or bag will have serving suggestions printed right on it. I know, this isn’t a new idea or anything, but it definiteely keeps you from having that obscure herb sitting in your spice rack for two years because that Julia recipe was too much of a pain to make again. Having a great product is the foundation, nothing else would really matter that much if that weren’t the case, right?
2. They care about their customers, and have customers that have grown to care about them:
Look at what they say on their job openings page on their website:
“We are currently looking for people who believe that cooking is kindness, and that kindness can change the world”
I think that spells it out plain as day. One of the things that I’ve always been enamored with about Penzey’s is that they always put their customer on a pedestal. I don’t think of a high end spice dealer being really that down to earth, but they pay attention to the fact that their customers aren’t all like Thomas Keller. Their catalogs always feature real people, making real recipes with their products. They focus on making it easy to use the obscure ingredients, and celebrate the adventure of cooking something new.
3. They extend the idea of cooking is kindness thoughout everything they do.
Here’s an example. Every box of herbs and spices that they send out also includes a little extra something. Whether it is packaged with Turkish Bay leaves, or Cinnamon sticks, there’s always something other that what you ordered that gets you excited about cooking. It’s funny, I never knew that there was a difference between Turkish Bay Leaves and Regular Bay Leaves until I recieved them randomly in a box of spices. Now I ONLY use Turkish Bay Leaves, not because I’m a snob, but becasue Penzey’s was right in the fact that they ARE better. Not to mention the fact that if my mom saw regular bay leaves in our kitchen, you’d better believe I wouldn’t hear the end of it. Love you Mom.
Any companies or products that you can’t stop talking about and want the world to know? Sounds like they don’t need us. Let us know about them in the comments.
Real friendship is a little bit magical. Love this photo from my wonderful friend, Libby Williams.
A dear friend of mine recently moved to Greenville from Asheville. The other night we were talking about what it feels like to make new friends when you move to a new community.
He made a simple observation that got stuck in my heart:
90% of a having a friend is being a friend.
We have a lot of discussion around here about “engagement”. What does it mean and how do you really measure true engagement within a community? So many brands and organizations still feel numbers of Facebook fans or twitter followers is a sign of promising engagement.
They really do.
The other day John Moore stumbled on this study: Facebook Fans: A Fan for Life? He sent the team this quick summary:
The authors studied the ‘People Talking About This’ (PTAT) measurement from Facebook between Oct and Nov 2011 to determine how many fans, after the initial ‘like’, are engaging with the brand.
Their findings reveal less than 0.5% of Facebook fans engage with the brands they are fans of during any week.
Of the 200 brands they studied, only 1 brand had 2% of their fans engage with them during a seven-day period. (Included in these 200 brands are “passion” brands… Nike, Chanel, Harley-Davidson, Jack Daniels, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., etc.)
Just 20 brands reached the 1% level of engagement from fans on any given week.
The authors close by writing, “The real question is how cost effective is it for a brand to attempt to drive engagement if the most they can reasonably expect is that 1% of fans will engage?”
We are keeping a close track on the PTAT on FB stats. And our communities are fairing much better.
So it got me thinking. Wondering about the lessons we can learn.
Maybe… we have it all backwards.
Perhaps the thing we should be measuring is our own efforts to be a friend? Something the community management team takes very serious at Brains on Fire.
As brands and organizations are we making a 90% effort?
What do you think about that? Chime in.
Some members of the Brains on Fire team attended the WOMMfest conference yesterday in Atlanta. WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) was spot on with determining the right time to host the event, as Tuesday was also deemed National Word of Mouth Marketing day (hooray!)
There were a host of speakers that included Kristian Bush (lead singer of Sugarland) in Atlanta, Hugh MacCleod in Chicago, and C.C. Chapman in Seattle. We watched Kristian live and the other presenters were beamed into the 755 Club at Turner Field via live webcast.
It made for an interesting time, and we left with some good nuggets of WOMM wisdom to take home and chew on. Here are some highlights from those who attended:
Emily Everhart, Community Manager + Account Executive
There’s a difference between creating something talkable and pulling off a stunt. For example, take Lady Gaga’s “monster claw” and her infamous meat dress. The claw is a simple thing that Gaga’s fans can embrace and own, while the dress was more of a publicity stunt designed for shock value. You don’t need to set something on fire to get it to catch on. You want it to be replicable and have beauty in its simplicity. Your fans will appreciate it, and make it mean something a little different to each one of them.
Vicky Hammond, Community Manager + Account Executive
The core values of WOMM are not rocket science. It was great to hear all the sexy buzzwords stripped away in order to get to the core of what makes WOMM remarkable and effective. The secret? Be good at listening and responding to your customers. These gestures some in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they’re as simple as sending a thank you note, sometimes it’s as grand as creating posters for the fans who have helped crowd source your band’s playlist.
Katie Scully, Community Manager
The golden rule still applies, it doesn’t matter if you’re 7 or 97. Be a good neighbor, show your respect. Respect garners respect. I was reminded of what it really means to be in the shoes of my community and audience. It’s important for brands to ask themselves whether they’re communicating with their fans the way friends would, or are they talking at them? Being a good friend and neighbor trumps all.
Nathan Spainhour, Art Director + Interactive Director
Hugh MacCleod brought up a great quote from Aristotle that states “man by nature is a social animal.” Tying this to C.C. Chapman’s idea of “being a good neighbor” online, pretty much conveys the theme of WOMMfest. Treat people like human beings, listen to them and respond to them. Pretty basic stuff, but important to pay attention to when you’re on the front lines of customer interaction online.
Amy Taylor, Community Manager + Lead Copywriter
My favorite tidbit of the day came from C.C. Chapman, who hit on a subject near and dear to my heart when he spoke about the power of amazing your fans by putting in that little extra bit of effort. “If you really want [your brand fans] to connect and share your story, amaze them.” Most people not only want to do business with brands that make them feel good, they’re willing to pay more to do business with brands that do so.
The past few weeks I have shared a series of posts and thoughts on swag, surprise and social engagement. Today, we’re going to segue into full-on surprise. Valentines week seems like an appropriate time for this transition, as surprise and delight is all about creating a memorable love transaction between a brand and their fans.
Dr. Jonah Berger recently spoke at the F.I.R.E. Sessions, and left behind a few advance copies of his new book Contagious: Why Things Catch On. I read it cover to cover while held up at the airport (Thanks, Nemo!) this weekend. (Go pre-order your copy now! It’s awesome.)
Amongst the great thoughts in the book, Jonah shares some particularly interesting (and surprise-relevant) insights on the power of awe:
“Awe is the sense of wonder and amazement that occurs when someone is inspired by great knowledge, beauty, sublimity, or might. It’s the experience of confronting something greater than yourself. Awe expands ones frame of reference and drives self-transcendence. Awe is a complex motion and frequently involves a sense of surprise, unexpectedness or mystery.” (page 88) Awe also inspires sharing. For example, Jonah and his team determined that awe-inspiring articles were 30% more likely to make the “Most Emailed” list.
With that in mind…enjoy these seven examples of awesome (or maybe I should say awe-some) surprise and delight. Combined, these 7 videos have garnered over 12 million views. If the average person has 120 Facebook friends, that means these shares could have reached more than 1,440,000,000 people on Facebook alone. Behold the power of awe.
CASE STUDY 1: KLEENEX (52k views)
Scenario: Kleenex is a brand that people reach for (literally) when they’re feeling crappy.
Opportunity: Make people feel better by making them feel extra special.
CASE STUDY 2: BUDWEISER (4 million views)
Scenario: Budweiser is a non-pretentious beer for everyone.
Opportunity: Bring people together to celebrate the underdogs.
CASE STUDY 3: TACO BELL (134k views)
Scenario: Last year someone played an elaborate joke on the town of Bethel, Alaska (pop. 6,000) by starting a rumor that Taco Bell had plans to set up shop in their town. With the nearest TB more than four hours away, residents were crushed to learn the truth.
Opportunity: Turn a negative into a positive—and let them eat tacos!
CASE STUDY 4: TROPICANA (500k views)
Scenario: Tropicana orange juice is a well-known breakfast beverage. Sunshine and Tropicana go together like peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, Hall and Oates.
Opportunity: Bring a little sunshine to those who need it most—a group of residents in the Canadian arctic who haven’t seen sunlight in more than a month.
CASE STUDY 5: RADIO KLASSIK (5.9 million views)
Scenario: Classic music and radio are two things that don’t rank high on most people’s “must have” list this day in age. That’s a bad thing when you’re a classic radio station.
Opportunity: If the people won’t come to you, bring the music to the people.
CASE STUDY 6: FORD (50k views)
Scenario: Ford makes cars that everyone can enjoy on some level.
Opportunity: Nobody should be excluded from the joy that comes from stepping behind the wheel of a fast car. Could Ford create a remarkable driving experience for the visually impaired?
CASE STUDY 7: HONDA (1.5 million views)
Scenario: When Monsters Calling Home couldn’t afford studio time, the band was forced to make a music video in their Honda.
Opportunity: Inspired by their brand declaration “Honda Loves You Back,” the people at Honda challenged themselves to find a way to give a little love back to Monsters Calling Home.
A while back.. well, a while back in internet space/time, the University of California had a new identity system designed – and there was a big to-do.
If you don’t know the story, here’s what happened in a nutshell:
The University of California unveiled a new brand identity. The new system was somehow misconstrued by the public to be replacing the school’s seal. It wasn’t, the seal was updated and was still hanging around for more formal uses while the new identity would be used everywhere else. The design team was able to pull together what had been a largely disjointed amalgam of logos and type treatments and turn it into one unified monogram and brand identity system. There was a backlash from the community (students, alumni, the internet in general), they all signed a petition on Change.org, and the administration pulled the monogram from any kind of usage… until further notice.
For more detail, here are some great write ups that follow the drama on the Brand New blog: post 1, post 2, post 3. There’s also a really nice 99% Invisible interview with Vanessa Correa, creative director of the internal design group in charge of the rebrand, here.
So, I could talk about the identity itself and say that I thought it was a breath of fresh air when it comes to large scale university branding systems, and that it does a great job pulling together many disparate organizations under one cohesive visual umbrella. Yeah, the gradient in the “c” is a little weird, but I could get used to that over time… just like when Nike founder Phil Knight was presented the swoosh logo.. he said “I don’t love it. But it will grow on me.” (quote via Brand New) But I digress…
My point about the UofC rebrand is that I think the design is beside the point when looking at the overall story. The university had confidence in their design team, accepted the redesign, and launched the new system. Then, they backed down because of public outcry over what seemed to be mis-information. Instead of standing behind their decision to move forward with the new identity, or trying to re-explain that they weren’t replacing the seal, they backed down…. and went back to using God knows what… and ended up a little in the same place that they started.
Anyway, I think it’s obvious what I think – they should have stuck to their guns and moved forward. However, that contradicts a lot of what we preach around here in letting the community decide what they want to symbolize them. An argument could be made for bad pr (mistaking the monogram for replacing the seal), but at the same time, if this is what the community wants, shouldn’t they get it? Honestly, I think there’s a time and a place when parents should step in and do what’s best for their kids no matter how much they whine. I’d love to hear what you guys have to say. Go ahead, rake me over the WOM coals… I can take it.