Tuesday, August 17, 2004
customer experience, user experience
Good Experience Blog: "What if a company stopped advertising altogether and focused exclusively, with undivided laser-focus attention, on the customer experience? Would the CEO be insane? If it was a public company, would Wall Street riot, and would the board ask for the CEO's resignation?

In a word, no. I know this because there is a major, established company that is pursuing a strategy very close to that. Its TV advertising budget is zero.

BusinessWeek recently interviewed's Jeff Bezos (Aug. 2, 2004). The interview included this exchange:

    BusinessWeek: How important is advertising to building the brand?

    Jeff Bezos: We don't do any television advertising, and we take
    all of the money that we would put into television advertising,
    and instead put it into things like free SuperSaver shipping
    [free shipping on most orders over $25], lower product prices,
    category expansion, and invention of new features. We take those
    funds that might otherwise be used to shout about our service,
    and put those funds instead into improving the service. That's
    the philosophy we've taken from the beginning. If you do build a
    great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of
    mouth is very powerful.

    BW: It's fascinating that the increase in the value of your brand
    has happened at the same time when you're not advertising in mass
    media at all. Do you anticipate ever needing to use broad-scale
    advertising again?

    Bezos: No. Never say never, but I don't anticipate that. I like
    the strategy we're on.

I like the strategy Amazon is on, too. Not to suggest it's even close to a perfect customer experience - there are many challenges on, not the least of which is the increased clutter on its product pages recently. But Amazon is much, much better than most, any way you measure it - revenues, profitability, stock price, brand equity. And their stated strategy - straight from the mouth of the CEO - is close to the ideal corporate focus on the customer experience.

Amazon's example offers a challenge for other companies: focus first on the customer experience. It's not even necessary to pull the entire ad budget. Just create a strategy, and a budget, to focus on the customer at *least* as much as you invest in ads."

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