Make Something Worth Talking About

I’m at my company’s annual customer symposium at the Biltmore in Miami, and just heard Seth Godin present. Very entertaining, of course, but one thing, in particular, really resonated with me. Something that gives me more fodder for arguing against the Net Promoter Score mania gripping many firms.

Seth may have identified other rules, but rule #1 for marketers was “make something worth talking about.” This is what the NPS groupies are ignoring by obsessing over how many customer will refer them:

Is their firm offering a product or service worth referring?

I realize there’s a high correlation between NPS and future purchase intention. But does your firm really need to invest millions of dollars in an infrastructure to measure referral likelihood? Or would you rather invest some of that money to know what might drive referrals in the first place?

You’d have a better chance at knowing this if you invested in understanding customer expectations, and not referral likelihood.

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6 thoughts on “Make Something Worth Talking About

  1. Well said. Your theme on this is right, but there is one proviso in my mind. We have just spent the last 10 years wrestling banks out of product centric mode, where they only thought about products, in isolation, and no-one was considering the product suite in totality. Does the overall pricing work; are there openings to consolidate product offerings; are there too many products; do the products work together in aggregate; etc.

    It occurs to me, based on my more recent experience that product centric works well for start ups, but established firms such as Banks, need a manager that views all products in aggregate, to ensure that the customer view is represented.

  2. Ron,
    I am a huge Seth Godin fan – and he addresses “make something worth talking about” in the most entertaining ways. BUT, as Colin pointed out – in banking we don’t have that luxury. If we DO come up with a new and innovative product, you better believe the competition will R & D it (rip off and duplicate it). So. We’re back to service.
    What does the customer experience when they run that errand or get that loan? I’m not surprised that you focus on the number of NPS more than the open-ended data that is the core of the program. Remember, there is the follow-up question. WHY did the customer give the rating they did. This is the key to becoming the Seth Godin worthy bank.
    Umpqua Bank in Oregon comes to mind. They used Nordstrom as a consulting source when they re-engineered their customer experience. What they do in their branches is so hard for B of A to rip off and duplicate it’s insane. In fact, they never will. THAT’S competitive advantage. And to protect that and evolve that the NPS is an awesome tool. It’s true, “making something worth talking about” is not the purpose of NPS. The purpose is protecting your “something” from deterioration and avoiding the bad profit trap.

  3. ok, guys, I hear you …. but I think you’re taking Godin’s use of the word “make” too literal. The “something” worth talking about doesn’t have to be built into the product. It can be service-oriented. Isn’t this what Commerce Bank (in the NJ and PA area) and ING Direct have done? It isn’t the product that these firms’ customers are talking about — it’s their service and their customer experience.

    p.s. Denise — oddly, your “side bar” comment was flagged as spam. I think that was because you used the phrase “I just found the perfect example” which shows up in a lot of real spam comments. I’m just guessing, though.

  4. Ron,

    So you see– once again we are saying the same thing. The “it” is service. The definition of service in this case is the experience. Carefully choreographed hard-to-copy service.


  5. Pingback: Books That Seth Godin Should Have Written « Marketing ROI: Whims from Ron Shevlin

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