Tag Archives: customers

Flowtown knows what you’re wearing

OK, they may not know what you’re wearing but there is a good chance they know your customers better than you do.

Flowtown uses emails from your customer database, (you do have an email database for your customers, right?) and can tell you interesting and valuable information about those customers.

I recently met the founders of Flowtown online. They are wicked smart guys with a product that is immediately useful to almost any business.

Below is my interview with Ethan Bloch.

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Ethan Bloch and I’m the Co-founder and CEO of Flowtown.

Why should companies use Flowtown?
Because social media is hard and Flowtown turns social data in dollars.

How much does Flowtown know about someone from their email address?
Name, Age Group, Gender, Occupation, Location, Influence and almost every Social network they’re on.

Really? Wow. Do you know what I’m wearing right now?
I think you’d prefer I didn’t say ;)

So this would allow companies to do more targeted campaigns. For instance, if only 10,000 of their 100,000 members are twitter users, they could do a focused campaign, right?
Totally, way more focused. For example if you’re not on Twitter it would be annoying to get an email saying ‘Hi Clay, we’re building out our presence on Twitter…” you’d be like “I’m not on there, why are you sending me this?” On the flip side we’ve found that if you know someone is on a network and you mention that in your email, the performance of that campaign skyrockets.

Is Flowtown a replacement for traditional email systems like Flowtown, AWeber or MailChimp?
In the case of mainstream email service providers, I don’t think Flowtown is a replacement but rather an enhancement. For example we’ve built an integration with MailChimp where any MailChimp user can come to Flowtown and in 3 clicks dump a ton of demographic and social graphic information back into their MailChimp list and then use MailChimp’s segmentation feature to get more relevant with their subscribers.

You guys are adding interesting new features to Flowtown pretty quickly. Tell us about some of them.
We just launched an influence calculation (powered by Klout), where now when you import a contact list we’ll show you your top 50 influencers, which you can use to do 1-on-1 outreach i.e. we’re showing you the 20% that will drive 80% of the results, in respect to getting noticed and building buzz.

In fact everything we do at Flowtown is ran through this ‘Pareto Lens’ – early on, internally, Dan and I would speak of Flowtown as the 80/20 marketing filter for business.

Tell me about your partner, Dan Martell. How did you guys meet?
He’s a Rockstar – we wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we are today without Dan.

We actually met on Twitter back in September 2008. Did an IRL meetup, discovered we’re both passionate about marketing and moving the needle for business and the rest is history…

Tell us what your typical day at Flowtown is like.
I wake up around 6:30 and immediately touch base with David (VP of Engineering), he’s on EST so by the time I get up I’m already playing catchup.

(I jumpstart my day by using a strategy from Leo at Zen Habits: http://zenhabits.net/2007/02/jumpstart-your-day-night-before-evening/)

I’ll do a brief skim of all the new email that’s came in make sure there’s no bombs going off and then then I’ll work on 1-2 of the most important tasks I have scheduled for the day, for the next 3 hours, usually product, sales or biz dev focused, this could include new product mocks, coding, emails, phone calls, brainstorming and white boarding.

After those 3-hours are up I start going into a more ad-hoc mode, where I’m answering email/tweets, talking to customers, closing new customers, working with David on new features, bouncing around the bay for meetings, testing new features, breaking things and syncing up with Dan.

Later in the day/evening is when I go to the 30,000+ foot view of life, this includes research, reading (going through my Instapaper) and planning.

What did you do before you started Flowtown?
Right before I started Flowtown I was producing/hosting a video show called WSYK? (What Should You Know?) which was syndicated by Revision3. And I was a marketer full time at Cake Financial, a start-up that was recently sold to E-Trade.

Where do you hope Flowtown will be in 3 years?
Flowtown will be responsible for raising the bar on customer experience/service, by helping all businesses care for their customers like Zappos cares for theirs.

What’s the plan then?
Not sure if I’ll be ready, but I want to help fill the massive void in education. I hated school growing up and think there’s a lot we can do to improve the experience for children everywhere.

You’re from Baltimore. Please tell me you’ve seen the Wire or we’re ending this interview right now.

“You come at the king you best not miss.”

I love The Wire. My favorite character is Omar and if you don’t know why just watch this.

Thanks, Ethan.

If you want to try Flowtown yourself, enter your email address here.

Those who can, teach

I can see

This is often how I feel.

When I work with clients, I try hard to teach them about marketing, about customer engagement and how to listen and participate in the social web.

Some consultants prefer to do instead of teach. They are worried that if the client learns how to run everything on their own, they wouldn’t need the consultant anymore.

I would welcome that.

If I can teach my way out of a job, that means the clients are engaging with their customers and running a more successful, more social, more human business.

How can that be a bad thing?

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

build-a-bear

1997: Maxine Clark opened the first Build-a-Bear workshop in a mall in St. Louis.
1999: Raised investor money and opened 10 new stores.
2001: The National Retail Federation names Build-A-Bear the Retail Innovator of the Year.
2002: Build-A-Bear Workshop celebrates the 100th anniversary of the teddy bear along with the opening of its 100th store.
2008: 346 stores and $470M in revenue – a huge success.

Maxine did a lot of things right.

She sold an experience, not a product. (The bears are free. Parents and grandparents (happily) pay for the experience of creating them with their child.)

She built a Purple Cow, a remarkable product that people would passionately tell their friends about.

She made it extremely easy for the idea to spread. The concept is perfect for groups (i.e. birthday parties). In recent years, she has expanded the empire with smart licensing deals.

But Maxine did another thing right. She built an advisory board for feedback and decision input. The board members? High paid MBAs or marketing consultants? Surely they would know the market trends and forecasts better than anyone, right?

Wrong. The Cubs are a group of 20 boys and girls 8-14 years old who review new products and suggest additional ones. It meets with Clark and her team 3-4 times per year. Clark takes the board’s opinions seriously–if the board does not approve a product idea, the company doesn’t use it.

If Maxine Clark is smart enough enough to listen to 5th graders, are you smart enough to listen to your customers?

Listen and learn

Listening to customers isn’t a new concept but (most) companies have come a long way from those comment cards in small wooden boxes.

Dell computers has Ideastorm, a website where anyone can go on and post an idea, suggestion or even (gasp) a complaint.

dell-ideastorm1

Starbucks has a similar site at MyStarbucksIdea.com.

mystarbucksidea

One customer posted his idea requesting the ability to “buy a friend a coffee” remotely. The idea has 35,450 total points and 272 comments (and counting). There is even an official response from Starbucks letting users know that this idea is now “under rest view” by management.

starbucks_buyyouadrink

Sites like Ideastorm and MyStarbucks are brilliant. They push the envelope by not just listening to customers but allowing them to participate in the entire idea generation and implementation process.

Dell and Starbucks now know:

1) What their customers like
2) What their customers don’t like
3) What their customers want that they don’t have

How are you listening to your customers? How are you capturing what might be your company’s best new idea?

Sites of this scale aren’t necessary for all companies but if you have thousands of customers in multiple locations and the only way you “listen” to them is a support email address or a Twitter account, it’s time to upgrade the wooden box.