Tag Archives: Tony Hsieh

10 Ways for Small and Medium Business to Establish a Social Business Strategy (2/2)

Our world is getting more complex every day.  Technology evolves at a speed that is hardly possible to keep up with.  In Part one, we reviewed the first five ways SMBs can set up a solid social business strategy:
1. Regularly review and refine your company mission, values and goals
2. Keep transforming your content marketing into convenience marketing
3. To blog or not to blog
4. Transform your website into a social hub and its visitors into co-creators
5. Carefully choose your social platforms
So here are the five last ways SMBs can establish a solid foundation for a social business:
6.  Reinforce and share your company vision
Share your company vision to employees, suppliers, customers and prospects on your company website.  Communicate your company vision on all your social networks. Reinforce your core values to customers, suppliers, prospects and anyone your business is coming in contact with.  I can guarantee you that it will be a rewarding experience for both your company and your customers who will better identify your vision and enthusiastically share it with the communities of their choice.  Zappos is well-known for its outstanding company culture and the way CEO Tony Hsieh runs his interviews for both cultural fit and skills requirements. On Zappos’ company blog, Tony publicly shares some of his correspondence for anybody to read: management, co-workers, clients, prospects and suppliers alike.  This is a superb way of spreading company culture while avoiding misunderstandings, promoting transparency and informing everyone.  
21st Century World
7. Create a dual strategy by combining your brick and mortar shop with a state of the art HTML5 web presence
Strive to create a superb online and personal shopping experience while rewarding your customers with loyalty perks and status.  Shoppers often use smartphones and tablets to get access to relevant information.  About.com has qualified three main distinct search types being made on the internet: “answer me (46% of all searches), inspire me (28% of all searches) and educate me (28% of all searches). Wouldn’t it be a great idea to make “answer me, inspire me and educate me” the three-dimensional crusade of your content marketing strategy?  Ask your customers, both online and in your shop, what answers they are looking for?  What inspires them? What educates them?  Gather your customer data directly into your database: the business headquarters of your people-centric customer information center.  This custom-made marketing know-how will help your business tailor make your content marketing output and assist you schedule personalized marketing messages via email or SMS.
8. Social, local, mobile (SoLoMo) and free Internet access
Would you rather have customers and prospects find out about competitive pricing inside or outside your shop premises?  If they search within your business, it might be easier for you and your staff to find out about competitors’ pricing and promotions.  It will also grant you the chance to intervene and give away “spur of the moment” discounts while bringing in more sales.  Providing customers and prospects with free internet access is a sure way to keep them inside your brick and mortar shop is not it?  No matter what, customers will find out what they want so you might as well give them the chance to do it while there are “browsing” around. It’s time for your business to harness wireless technology and give your visitors the shopping experience of their lives.  Why not consider an indoor positioning system (IPS) and lead your prospects to the right aisles? Why not consider near field communication (NFC) and QR codes to provide visitors with more product information?    
QR Codes Europe
9.  Free is a wonderful motivator
We all love free things don’t we?  The concept of free automatically appeals to our human nature.  Would it be possible to provide your business with a little coffee and snack corner? Could you add a few tables for prospects to linger around and visit?  This could be a wonderful opportunity to create a local’s corner while gathering precious ideas about business dos and don’ts.  Ask your customers what they expect from your business and reward the top ideas with prizes (first, second to five and 11th to 20th or more if you can). Give, share and get altruistically involved with your community.  How about giving away a free coffee for every new Twitter follower or Facebook likes?  Be creative, try new things, and encourage mistakes among co-workers and team members.  One last word of advice from Dan Erwin: “Shift your networking orientation from getting to giving and your long-term success is assured.”
10.  Refine your web and shop loyalty program
Loyalty programs should become digital and mobile. There are clients combining web and shop loyalty programs who can adapt their products to your specific needs and beyond.  It is fundamental for customers to get rewarded.  Customers both love rewards and status.  Status gives a sense of belonging, a feeling of being part of something bigger.  Among the 36.8 million followers Lady Gaga enjoys on Twitter, she concentrates on the top 1% she names her “little monsters” … “These fans evangelize for her and bring new fans in the fold”.  Lady Gaga understands her fans’ needs to emotionally wanting to connect with her and goes as far as interrupting her concert while calling one of them on the stage with her.  The more customers purchase, the more unique their reward and status development should be.  Think of airlines bronze, silver and gold levels as an example.  Rewards and status are the motivation that channels patrons into buying more of your products and services, but also to evangelize your business.   Be creative, different, and provocative, and reward your customers with an exhaustive loyalty program that shows genuine gratitude towards them. 
Now it’s your turn. Which advice would you give a combined brick and mortar digital shop for it to thrive in this contemporary business environment? Looking forward to your comments and suggestions.
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Zappos 10 Core Values (from Zappos “2010 Culture Book”)

I am a great advocate of Zappos and I think all my business contacts, friends and encounters hear me mention Zappos and Tony Hsieh on a regular basis! Now it is time to write a blog post or two about this unique and wonderful bunch of people! Because there is a lot to learn from this great company! I really mean LOTS! For those of you who do not know, Zappos bought by Amazon is an online clothing retailer shipping US wide (with a free-shipping: both ways and a 365 days return policy!). Did you catch this? 365 days return policy! This already sets the business pace for Zappos and one of the reasons why Zappos has managed to turn over US$ 1,190B in roughly 10 years! But this is not the only reason! The first thing one has to appreciate about the company is its culture and it is exemplified by CEO Tony Hsieh’s profound statement: “Your Culture Is Your Brand”!

From the Huffington post on November 17th of 2010 (quote): “At Zappos.com, we decided a long time ago that we didn’t want our brand to be just about shoes, or clothing, or even online retailing. We decided that we wanted to build our brand to be about the very best customer service and the very best comer experience. We believe that customer service shouldn’t be just a department; it should be the entire company.”…“So what’s a company to do if you can’t just buy your way into building the brand you want? What’s the best way to build a brand for the long term? In a word: culture”…“At Zappos, our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff — like great customer service, or building a great long-term brand, or passionate employees and customers — will happen naturally on its own” (end of quote).

Everybody goes through a 4 weeks intensive training regardless of the position: the training is the same for everyone and during this time every single “trainee” is offered 2.000 US$ (Zappos does not want teammembers to be their only for a paycheck) to quit in addition to paying the time he or she has already worked! In this first post I would like to rewrite the 10 principles Outlined by CEO Tony Hsieh in his company culture book I hold in my hands right now as I write those notes and I will tell you a bit more on how I got a copy of this wonderful work! 

1. Deliver WOW through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest relationships with Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More with Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble
I stumbled upon the customer site on Zappos Website and from Hamburg Germany I placed “my free order” for the Zappos Culture Book 2010! And I must say the Zappos follow up, for a free book request, has stunt me to say the least!  A couple of days later on February the 7th of 2012 I received a confirmation message with the following text: “While you wait for your culture book: we are processing your culture book and packing it with care. It may take a few days to process. We’ll let you know when it is on its way! Here is a video for you to watch so you can see how the books were made!  And again on February the 10th (only 3 days later) I got a second email telling me that my book has been shipped! I knew that it would probably take around 4 to 5 weeks to get here since there was no need for it to be a courier overnight delivery! I did received the book on the 22nd of March again accompanied a day later by an Email message from the Zappos Inside Team asking me if I had enjoyed the reading! Pretty amazing is not it? All this because of a FREE BOOK! I treasure this book and will share more of its inside with you in upcoming posts!Let me know what you think and leave a comment on your “company culture” experiences! Looking forward to reading from you!