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johnon.com  Competitive Web & SEO
December 2nd, 2009 by john andrews

With the Proper Resources….

What seems like many years ago American business methods shifted. Money became more important than potential. Cash associated more closely to power, where “might” had previously been associated with power. What I mean by that is companies with real might in their industries, real potential stored in their established positions, had power and were respected more than upstarts, even if the upstarts had cash. You might draw parallels to stocks and dividends… Wall Streets demand for short term gains over long term profitability changed everything.

Things shifted slowly, but in the beginning I often heard “if we only had the resources to do this right…” even from divisional managers at large Fortune 500 companies. Apparently, even though they were powerful companies leading their industries, they didn’t have the resources to continue to be great companies. In the last 6 years middle managers have grown accustomed to being told to do more with less. I’ve grown accustomed to meeting middle and even upper tier managers at big companies who are barely prepared to do their jobs let alone excel at them. We consumers have grown accustomed to poor quality products, and even poorer quality customer service. Our economy reflects that conundrum.

I notice Google has resources.  What is Google doing with them?

Today Google offered to send, on your behalf, a greeting card/post card to anyone you choose, for free. It is not email.. it’s a physical, decorative paper holiday greeting card. You can send yours here. Why is Google doing this?

A great company in Google’s shoes might say wow.. this is a great PR stunt. Latch onto the communication of good wishes between people, and get some branding credit inserted into that transaction! Associate Google with smiles and good wishes! Lessen the overall fear of privacy-invading, all-powerful Google by placing the brand into everyone’s soft spot during the holidays. But it will cost money… perhaps up to twice the cost of post card postage, per sender/recipient pair, when you include the overhead (my estimate, which goes down with volume).

But Google’s crafty strategists could chime in and cover part of that cost. If we’re sending postcards, we’re validating real, physical addresses of real people who are either Google users or potential Google users! That is valuable stuff…  it helps the Google maps team, and it helps the local business center team, for example. What an opportunity to add more valuable data to the Google sausage grinder that has already been set up in a modular fashion to manage data about people and their associations.

And speaking of people and their associations, don’t friends and relative send greeting cards to each other? Another piece of value that will enter the sausage grinder… just as friend networks give Google insights into relationships and connections, this greeting card program would similarly add value, even at the very least.

There are so many ways this is a good idea. I’m sure you can think of a few angles yourself, which you can post below in the comments. If the people within Google work together or, if the data processing systems in place at Google  already accommodate management of this sort of universally-valuable data, it’s a winner program for Google… the company with the resources to do things well. And I bet they do.

If you are a manager or director at a company and want to learn more about how your company thinks, why not propose that your company offer a similar program for all of its customers? Outline all of the reasons this is good for the brand,  good for customer relations, good for helping to clean up and strengthen the customer and vendor databases, and even good for adding value to your companies side of its company-vendor relationships (vendors always appreciate your knowing more about your customers).

Roughly outline for your decision-maker how easy this is to execute… a simple web form, mentions in the companies seasonal mailings, a button on the “thank you” page at the online checkout, and perhaps a link in the “here is your order/invoice” email sent to customers. Highlight the availability and willingness of your existing direct mail provider to do the fulfillment for you (I bet you don’t even need to call to verify). If it’s too late to do for the winter holiday season, there’s time to test  it at Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.

And when you hear back “if only we had the resources…” you know the truth.

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