More on the Honesty Marketing Strategy

Earlier today I commented on Rick Segal’s post about setting expectations in customer service, adding that just being honest is one very effective way to win over customers.

This afternoon I had an experience that drove home that point. I bought some new tires and wheels for my car (because I have to mod everything it seems) and I was asking the guy at the shop how he could sell the parts at a price point below what I could find on the Web. He said that basically it came down to the fact that his customers pretty much knew what the best prices were on the parts, especially in tech saavy Silicon Valley, and he made a calculation that giving his customers parts for his cost rather than making money on them was a way to win repeat customers and still make money on the labor. Over time the repeat business would accrue and ultimately even out what he was giving up on the parts markup.

Quite honestly, I’m not sure I would have endorsed this strategy myself because even though I knew what the best price on the web was I really didn’t expect to beat it so in effect he was leaving money on the table. Having said that, I also know that the next time I want something for my car I will be going to his shop without playing the field.

This is similar to the strategy that Progressive Insurance takes with their marketing strategy, putting competitors prices next to their own. This sends a powerful message to their prospective customers that says they are confident their rates are competitive and understand that their customers are smart enough to shop around for the best rate. By treating their customers with respect and having confidence in their own rates they position themselves on the same side of the table as their customers.

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Quick note on permalinks

One other tweak I made to my site this last week was to change the permalink format for posts, from http://jeffnolan.com/wp/2007/02/09/sample-post/ to the default WordPress format http://jeffnolan.com/wp/?p=123.
One side effect of doing this is that the links in my posts to other posts on my site no longer worked, and the search function (which I use a lot myself) returned an index of posts but the links wouldn’t work.

Well obviously that was a problem and my hope that WordPress would be able to reconcile the link to whatever index of posts is maintained internally was not realized. I switched the permalink format back to the old format… like most things around here, it is a work in progress and I learn as I go.

Next up is figuring out what stylesheet and template tweaks I need to make so that I render better on IE7. I’m also curious to find out why I’m having a problem with image placement when I include a blockquote in a post.

GPS

This is a great idea, I would certainly pony up for a pair of these for my 3 year old. Not sure about the mass market, but for niches like adults with conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s they would be invaluable. Children’s shoes are an obvious market but only if the price points come down given the fact that kids outgrow their shoes every couple of months (it seems).

My Way News – Engineer: GPS Shoes Make People Findable:

Days later, the engineer started working on a prototype of Quantum Satellite Technology, a line of $325 to $350 adult sneakers that hit shelves next month. It promises to locate the wearer anywhere in the world with the press of a button. A children’s line will be out this summer.

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Yahoo! Pipes Backs Up

I wanted to wait until having a chance to actually use Pipes before commenting on it, especially given the potential to create or confuse any competitive aspect to Teqlo. My first reaction is that it’s a great idea and validates what we are doing but like I said, I want to use it first.

On another Pipes note, I was kinda curious to know how Yahoo! could launch a service like this and then not anticipate the demand it would create, which would ultimately bring down their servers. This isn’t some angel funded startup, it’s frickin Yahoo!

It turns out that Pipes was running for two weeks prior to Techcrunch finding it, and get this, it wasn’t running on some big server farm but rather just 5 servers on their network, not even in their datacenter.

PS- I’m still waiting for someone to tell me “put that in your Pipe”.

Yahoo’s Pipes goes down the tubes » mathewingram.com/work:

…but in what has become an all-too familiar event when a new service launches, it has been taken offline due to server overload (and while we’re on the subject, why didn’t they call it Yahoo Tubes? Much better name).

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Setting Expectations AND Being Honest

Rick wrote an interesting little post about a recent experience with Air Canada and appropriately titled it “setting expectations“. There is something that escapes most companies and employees acting on behalf of their companies and it’s simply being honest. How many times have you sat in the terminal waiting for a (my least favorite airline in the U.S.) United Airlines flight and the gate agent comes on the horn saying “we’re oversold” or “we’re very full today and only boarding by section number” (that one is usually delivered with a certain snarkiness along the lines of “you dumbs SOBs that don’t bother to look at your boarding pass”).

Think about this the next time you are sitting in the terminal, what if the gate agent said “we’re oversold and that means we’re going to inconvenience you” or “we’re totally full today and that means we’re not going to give you the kind of experience you expect from us”. The minute these companies start empathizing with their customers is the day their customers start to have a lot more tolerance for things that are inherently inconvenient and unpleasant. Flying commercial will never be fun again (even when you are going on vacation) so airlines should strive to just not make it suck so much.

The Post Money Value: Air Canada – Setting Expectations:

Air Canada knew there was a problem on the plane and simply tried to make the best of it with the customers. They knew before going on the plane, they were involved in the choice, etc. It seems like nothing but I can’t stress this enough, set expectations. Talk to your customers and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome even when it is a problem you are dealing with.

An Open Letter to Google Founders— to save Google in China and save Internet in China

This guy in China who posted an open letter to Google’s founders has a cool idea. Mao suggests Google can restore frequently talked about corporate values by putting some of their bundles of cash to developing anti-censorship tools and services for everyone in the world who suffers under government censorship.

Meta: An Open Letter to Google Founders— to save Google in China and save Internet in China:

2. Develop anti-censorship tools and service for global Internet users. In China as well some other coutries, censorship is still a tradition in culture. We are accustomed to control or to be controlled(It’s true!). But it’s too far from modern humanity and universal value. It won’t target China only, instead its a global issue to be solved. So it won’t cause Google’s operation in China into trouble. The budget to complete the mission will be not more than several millions dollars.

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Back to Full Feeds

Some of you commented about my switch to partial feeds when I updated my site a few days ago. It was part oversight on my end and part curiosity to see if anyone would care. You did, so I switched back to full feeds.