How do we create actionable metrics that help us better measure success regarding impact.
FOCUS: qualitative, quantitative analysis, interpreting data, big data, etc.

We have to learn from others that do know more than we do. That can be far from easy for some people to accept.

Have you ever had to rebrand your company, toss out a big idea or do other important work to help your company grow?

Then you know that it is tough.

Other companies have struggled through. For instance, for most of its history since being founded in 1963, Weight Watchers primary service has been helping clients lose weight. Dieters meet up, get weighed, and discuss their successes and failures in succeeding at the program.

Some have suggested that given that history, it seems a no-brainer that Weight Watchers was eager to rebrand itself as WW.

This is another case analysis from the trenches that illustrates how some great ideas work out and others fail miserably – brand equity is destroyed much faster than it can ever be built.

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1. SWOT analysis helps

Doing a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of your company should reveal a few interesting things to any manager. It could tell you where there are opportunities to build on your strengths or better exploit your advantages. Or, it could show weaknesses that need fixing.

In our case, we had established a brand called DrKPI (Key Performance Indicators), meaning our core business had less to do with our business’ original focus on Cyber Threat Reduction and Prevention (CyTRAP Labs GmbH). All important to know when you want to grow a company or strengthen a brand.

As the set of slides below illustrates, you need to analyse what your brand or corporate name stands for. It requires that your team talks it through. And yes, there will be some disagreements, tears, frustration, and anger.

Everybody wants to focus on brand building, but if you fail the exercise, you will have wasted a lot of time and money. Weight Watchers is an example where it would have been much easier if the company had stuck to its original name instead of changing it to WW.

DrKPI GmbH führt qualitative und quantitative Analysen durch.

Wir optimieren Unternehmen in den Bereichen Unternehmens-kommunikation, Digital- und Content-Marketing sowie Compliance, Datenschutz und Datensicherheit.

Darüber hinaus bietet DrKPI Schulungen, Kurse und Audits.

DrKPI GmbH conducts qualitative and quantitative analyses.

We optimise companies in the areas of Corporate Communications, Digital- and Content-Marketing, as well as Compliance, Data Protection, and Data Security.

In addition, DrKPI offers Training, Seminars, and Audits.

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The above was one attempt to get it right. Below you see the next, just to show how tough a time we had.

Wir optimieren Unternehmen in den Bereichen Unternehmens-kommunikation, Digital-, Content- und Impact-Marketing sowie Compliance, Datenschutz und Datensicherheit.

DrKPI GmbH analysiert inwiefern eine definierbare und messbare Wirkung erzielt wurde.

Darüber hinaus bietet DrKPI Schulungen, Kurse und Audits.

We optimise companies in the areas of Corporate Communications, Digital-, Content- and Impact-Marketing, as well as Compliance, Data Protection, and Data Security.

DrKPI GmbH analyses the extent to which a definable and measurable effect has been achieved.

In addition, DrKPI offers Training, Seminars, and Audits.

This was our second attempt, and still, the elevator pitch is not as good as it must be. More work is needed.

Rebranding

Jean Nidetch founded Weight Watchers, in 1963. In 2018, the company rebranded as WW, but it was a much-mocked effort.

Rebranding is a costly exercise. Using US data, researchers checked 200 rebranding announcements across 101 industries. They reported in their paper that news of a rebrand was linked to an average 2.46% rise in stock prices. Unfortunately, in more than 40% of the cases investigated, the announcements were followed by “negative abnormal returns”.

Hence, we decided to stick with DrKPI. Or in a more colloquial but succinct way, Pilita Clark points out:

“… any company that sticks to a name that is meaningful, legible and simple will always have my vote.”

So the brand stays. Conveying succinctly what we do – research, digital marketing, social media marketing, GDPR and compliance work – is a must. Of course, our own analysis tool helps, but it is not centre stage in our message, just added value for clients.

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Administration needs streamlining

Figuring out that we did not want to rebrand, but needed to change our elevator pitch is a first important step. Additional organisation was needed to assure that we would grow while making a sizeable profit.

So we decided to improve our bottom line. This required that we submit tenders that are built upon much better project management and cost accounting than we had used until now. In turn, this would empower the project manager to keep abreast of progress in both tasks and costs.

Of course, there are tons of tools to choose from. Our team decided on one, but we are still trying to get our head around the online office suite from Zoho. Even signing up requires patience… the process is not that smooth. Moreover, the promised 30-day trial fails if you need to test it with colleagues. I was definitely not amused…

Even though the company provides support, the staff seems to forget that the UK is not in the same time zone as the rest of Europe. They call after work hours or else during lunch. After trying twice they do not try a third time at the time slot suggested. What a case of wasted resources on their end, and a cumbersome experience for any client trying to figure things out.

Zoho is a web-based online office suite. We use Projects and Invoice to streamline things. But it is not easy...



Zoho is a web-based online office suite. We use Projects and Invoice to streamline things, but it’s easier said than done.

But in the larger scheme of things… these difficulties are manageable.

Website pruning or reform is needed

Incidentally we discovered that we needed to restructure or at least archive some of our webpages. In addition to this site, we have far too many sites, such as http://university.commetrics.com.

When you visit http://drkpi.com, the design differs and visitors do not feel they have a unified experience across sections of the site. And now we are in midst of this work… and there is still sooooo much to do.

But our readers will be the first to know when exciting new things happen that improve your user experience and, most importantly, give you a chance to benchmark your marketing efforts using our tools.

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What is your opinion?

When Jean Nidetch founded her company, she chose the name Weight Watchers, but the company rebranded as WW 45 years later. An unfortunate choice, because pronouncing the two letters takes twice as long as the old name does. Moreover, WW is widely understood to mean World War.

The corporate makeover is almost always baffling. This is evidenced by a number of rebranding announcements in the past couple of years including Weight Watchers, Dunkin’ Donuts, and even Pizza Hut, which tried to rebrand itself as ‘The Hut’ in an apparent attempt to appeal to a younger demographic. The rebrand got cancelled before it went live.

We knew that the only thing a rebrand absolutely guarantees is that money will be spent, but the result of the rebrand must always lead to an improved bottom line.

In our case, we had neither a longstanding brand name nor logo, but we needed to improve our focus. And the rebranding was the easy part that followed a long, painful process completed ahead of the launch. Nor did we want to destroy the brand equity we had already built.

Safeguarding brand equity

The why, when, and how of effective rebranding means that brand equity must be protected. Otherwise, the rebuilding is costly.

According to David A. Aaker, brand equity is like a chest of drawers with the following:

  1. Awareness of the brand, meaning our target audience knows about our brand – or not.
  2. Associations with, and beliefs about the brand (e.g., associating the brand with sustainability).
  3. Attitude towards the brand (i.e. positive, negative or no opinion).

And while a rebrand may or may not help financially, the second possibility was not an option for us. Time will tell and yes, our readers will be the first to see the results here in a few weeks.

What do you think?

  • Do you have an example where rebranding or changing a logo was a success with customers?
  • Have you ever gone through a rebranding exercise at your job. How would you rate it, success or flop?
  • Do you have an example of an appalling rebranding announcement? Please let us know below.

Please share this entry on social media using this link: https://blog.drkpi.com/?p=5894

Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

This blog entry is part of a series:

  1. WEF Davos 2019: Top 100 CEO bloggers (you are here)
  2. WEF Davos 2019: Die besten Chef Blogs (in German / auf Deutsch)
  3. WEF Davos: Cybersecurity and Blockchain
  4. WEF Davos: MCLago und Marketing (in German / auf Deutsch)

Summary: We published a #DrKPI WEF Davos blogger ranking for 20152016, and 2017.
This year we attended #WEF19 in Davos in person – a good reason to post another #DrKPI #BlogRank of the top 100 CEO blogs.
This post presents the 2019 rankings.

Being fashionable is transient, but public facing corporate blogs are here to stay. To illustrate,

53% of Fortune 500 and 55% of Inc 500 firms in the US have public facing blogs. Source: Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

53% of Fortune 500 and 55% of Inc 500 firms in the US have public facing blogs. Source: Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Love what you read? Click here to Subscribe to our Blog! ♥

Every year the road to Davos is littered with companies that once appeared all-powerful, but later stumbled. For instance, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was an avid blogger until recently, and she is no longer attending WEF Davos. New people are showing up and telling us that going public and sharing experiences is each company’s, and its managers’, responsibility.

By the way, as in past years, climate change was an issue at this year’s WEF – naturally. Although we did not attend any of those sessions, we did our part by having the team use public transit, including taking the train to and from Davos. In Davos itself, we took the WEF shuttle or walked from one venue to the next.

World Economic Forum: Authentic CEOs aplenty

This year part of our team scored an invite and had a chance to visit the World Economic Forum. We had a great time and met some famous CEOs, including Jamie Dimon and Satya Nadella. So, we thought we would share some of our thoughts right here, and publish an updated #DrKPI #BlogRank for #WEFdavos in 2019.

iVault at Davos 2019: Jamie Dimon and Vault Security Systems AG

iVault at Davos 2019: Jamie Dimon and Vault Security Systems AG

Is blogging easy? Depends on who you ask. Most people think it’s easy – you just write a little, and that’s all there is to it. Personally, I think it requires a lot of time, attention, and creativity. And like anything creative, it has its moments of difficulty. But if we look at those attending Davos, one wonders.

The Harvard Business Review rankings of the top CEOs suggest that one key skill of these high performers is their ability to get their message across very effectively. But what about blogging? If a growing number of Fortune 500 companies have public facing blogs, their CEOs must know the drill. Right?

Well actually, we get a mixed picture, and once again, it depends on who you ask. CEOs may talk the talk, but many – like Stephanie Buscemi (log in with your email first, then click on this again to get the numbers) – fail to walk the walk.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Salesforce chief marketing officer Stephanie Buscemi said companies need to have a "point of view".

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Salesforce chief marketing officer Stephanie Buscemi said companies need to have a “point of view”.

Take-away

While Salesforce may have a “point of view”, I certainly can’t figure out from her blog what Stephanie Buscemi stands for. Trumpeting her company’s products using marketing mumbo-jumbo isn’t exactly on topic, is it…
Does it present added value? I’m going to go with a big, fat, NO.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Apple CEO Tim Cook were pictured at dinner in Davos with Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro.

Whenever he has the opportunity, Satya Nadella talks about our need for a global GDPR, and privacy being a human right. He did so in interviews and also during his WEF speech this year – but he fails to outline his position on his Microsoft blog. Another missed opportunity.

This is a blog that cries out for care, attention, and authenticity. Of the latter, Nadella has a whole truckload, so why doesn’t anyone at Microsoft help him translate it onto his blog for readers’ – or customers’ – benefit?

Satya Nadella asserted that there needs to be a GDPR for the world.

Satya Nadella asserted that there needs to be a GDPR for the world.

Take-away

Microsoft CEO wants a GDPR for the world. Maybe he should follow Stephanie Buscemi’s advice, and get a “point of view”.

Nadella surely has one. He also stands behind it. But a blog telling us a bit more about what he feels and how his company tackles this challenge would be helpful. What his PR staff is managing to spread is totally unauthentic statements… Another lost opportunity to hear from a CEO directly about such an important topic.

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Two years back we suggested:

    1. Staying on topic,
    2. Posting regularly,
    3. Answering reader comments, and
    4. Benchmarking your blog (seeing what works best for you).

This year we could maybe add

  • Being authentic,
  • Avoiding navel gazing or inward-looking entries… provide your audience with added value.

Incidentally, added value is unlikely to mean talking about your company’s product. Unfortuntely, Salesforce chief marketer Stephanie Buscemi does just that – about every 6 months or so.

As a marketing guru, your main job is to know what clients want. As well, you need to make sure that know-how flows into product development. But posts touting your company’s product do not cut the mustard.

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Ranking CEO (top management) bloggers for WEF Davos 2019

CLICK on IMAGE - DrKPI - Top 100 CEO bloggers.We publish our DrKPI BlogRank: Top 100 CEO Bloggers every year (find more on the website).

These numbers can be at your fingertips! Just bookmark this entry – Top blogs of Davos 2019 | World Economic Forum from DrKPI® BlogRank, and you are all set.

[su_box title=”Five WEF Davos 2017 Top 100 Blogs you want to bookmark” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 700″ ]
Important blog missing – yours! Please sign up right now, and get your blog’s numbers mailed to your inbox.

  1. Log in with your email at https://DrKPI.com,
  2. Click on any link below, and you’ll see the charts and figures.

Here are the links you need:

  1. Overall list – WEF Davos 2019 Top 100 CEO bloggers – Christine Lagarde – IMF
  2. Details – Content Strategy – WEF Davos 2019 Top 100 CEO bloggers – Arman Sarhaddar – Vault Security Systems
  3. Details – Brand Image and Impact – WEF Davos 2019 Top 100 CEO Bloggers – Erna Solberg – Prime Minister of Norway
  4. Details – Conversation and Social Sharing – WEF Davos 2019 Top 100 CEO Bloggers – Ron Tolido – Capgemini

Check out the table below!

Erna Solbgerg does not link to other material on the web, her blog is about her opinions. Christine Lagarde has co-authors whom she publishes with, saves her time while ensuring high-quality content. Arman Sarhaddar has just started as a blogger, but does very well.

And another thing, why have a blog when you do not allow your readers to comment? Even if you do you will not get that many since it takes time and effort. Oh, and thought.

By the way, Mr. Edelman – successful blogger in previous years – no longer blogs and the website is a useability nightmare.

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Here are some other things to consider.

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1. A Hashtag strategy is a must

The WEF has put out the #WEF19 hashtag, but most people cannot find it on its website. Many others are also being used, such as  #Davos2019. Whatever you do, use at least three hashtags to make your post easy to find.

Tweet about this post or share it on LinkedIn. Here’s an example of how this could work using hashtags:

#DrKPI’s annual #WEF #BlogRank with #metrics2watch:
https://blog.drkpi.com/ranking-top-manager-blog/
for the Top 100 #CEO #Blogger at #WEFdavos #WEF19 #Davos2019

2. Blogging or sharing content in a high-walled garden is not smart. Really.

I appreciate all CEOs that share their thoughts and off the cuff remarks on, for instance, LinkedIn. But let us not forget, you are more likely to reach those that think like you do (fellow managers, CEOs, wannabes and so forth) in an echo chamber or a fenced yard like LinkedIn.

Is that really the target group of customers that you want to or must reach? Probably not. As if this is not reason enough, no search engine will index your entry on LinkedIn and within a day or two, people will be unable to find it on this platform.

So get your own blog and curate content that interests your target audience(s) by providing them added value.

3. Preventing the crawling of your site does not help

Some bloggers do a great job (e.g., Christine Lagarde). But please, make sure your robots.txt file is set up so search engines can crawl and index your blog. I’m looking at you, Christine.

Of course, George Colony: The Counterintuitive CEO may not care, since he is already famous. But for those of you who aren’t famous (yet), beware… Here is some help for non-geeks on how to set up your robots.txt file correctly.[/su_box]

Have your say –  join the conversation

Source: WEF Davos 2019: Top 100 CEO bloggers

What is your opinion?

– Who is your favorite top management, c-suite or CEO blogger?
– What would you recommend a CEO blogger such as Jean-Pascal Tricoire (CEO of Schneider Electric) do to get more reader comments (8,000 reads BUT 0 reader comments)?
– Since it takes Elon Musk six days to go from having an idea to its execution, what would you recommend he do to revive his stale blog?

More about DrKPI BlogRank – the Hit Parade

Declaration of Conflicting Interests

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry.

[su_box title=”WEF Davos 2017 Top 100 Bloggers: How it works” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 700″ ]
We did not just gather the over 100 CEO / c-suite blogs we liked best. Instead, our DrKPI® BlogRank picked those that feature the most informative, knowledgeable and experience-driven insights, using objective indicators.

We also analyse writing style and visual effects, as well as how much reader engagement, dialogue and ripple is generated by marketing content published on the blog.

100 is the highest possible grade for each indicator. The average within the group of blogs being ranked or all blogs (see table below) is 50.
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Top 100 CEO blogs

Learn more about the table from the above blog entry below.

  1. Log in with your email at https://DrKPI.com,
  2. Click this link and you’ll see the charts and figures below.

Register your own blog right here!

WEF Davos 2019 - the top CEO bloggers - the best of the corporate blogcrowd from DrKPI BlogRank.

WEF Davos 2019 – the top CEO bloggers – thebest of the corporate blogcrowd from DrKPI BlogRank.

See some Kodak moments from WEF 2019 below

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… or our impressions video for iVAULT, the brand by Vault Security Systems AG here:

WEF Davos - what are the blogging trends|Copyright: Petunyia | Fotolia #127707380

Summary: We published a #DrKPI WEF Davos blogger ranking for 2015 and 2016. This post presents the 2017 rankings, as well as:

Being fashionable is transient, but corporate blogs are here to stay. To illustrate, a 2009-2010 study reported that 23 percent of Fortune 500 companies had at least one corporate blog. In 2016, 181 Fortune 500 companies, or 36 percent had corporate blogs for content marketing purposes (see UMass Center for Marketing Research).

Blogs are a more personable way to communicate, and most importantly, foster dialogue with readers.

Interesting read: The no-bullsh*t guide to better blogging

♥ Curious? Join 1,500+ other subscribers to this blog’s newsletter, and read on!♥

Every year the road to Davos is littered with companies that once appeared all-powerful, but later stumbled. For instance, Yahoo’s former CEO, Marissa Mayer was an avid blogger until recently, is not attending WEF Davos this year.

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Checklist

  1. Staying on topic vs. Trumping
  2. Posting regularly
  3. Answering reader comments
  4. Benchmarking your blog – see what works best for you

Get answers to this checklist below.
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1. Michelle Obama and staying on topic

Some have argued, “One of the biggest flaws that we see in CEO blogs is lack of focus.”

A good point, but this statement is too general. Imagine if Michelle Obama had decided to write a blog during her time at the White House. What her topic of choice might have been would not have mattered much. She could have written about human rights, her travels or shared her ideas about gardening, and countless people would have been interested to read this material.

Of course, writing about a topic you care about makes things easier. For most folks, delivering on a narrower topic helps, but different rules apply for famous people.

Take-away

The more famous you are among your target audience, the less focus matters for your blog content. Writing about a trip to the store, corporate policy meetings, and so forth can be part of the package.

You can be audacious like Mr. Trump… But your compliance folks will have a fit.

2. Guy Kawasaki and building relationships

Building relationships or friendships requires that you invest time and maintain regular contact. For instance, Guy Kawasaki posts once or twice a year, but the The Blog Maverick (Mark Cuban) has managed to post just about every month over many years.

The results speak for themselves: Mark Cuban has a much higher dedicated readership than Guy Kawasaki, even though social media pundits may feel differently. But those are the numbers.

Take-away

Don’t begin your blog by posting twice a week. Look at it as a ten-year marathon or even longer. Start off slowly, at a pace that you can maintain throughout the race. Continue the journey by posting content every three to five weeks.

3. Peter Brabeck-Lethmathe: Actions speak louder than words

Unless you really focus on reader comments, you should drop your blog. You might as well tell corporate communications to handle your media work for you, because it will not stand out… but you will be in good company, I am sorry to say.

As a CEO that reaches out and blogs, you need to be authentic. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe (Chariman of Nestlé Group and Formula 1) manages this very well. Two things make his CEO blog different:

  1. He receives reader comments – in contrast to many c-suite blogs that do not, AND
  2. Peter tries to respond from time to time if the comment requires a thoughtful reply.

However, recently he has failed to post regularly, which is a real shame. Also, you have to carefully monitor the comments that are left on your blog. Some people seem to forget. In turn, they may end up having several spam-type comments published among more thoughtful reader comments. A pity.

Take-away

Taking the time to reply to thoughtful reader comments makes you authentic. As importantly, it shows that you value your readers’ time. But please, moderate your reader comments to prevent spam getting published.

WEF Davos - Data about the DrKPI BlogRank: Best 100 CEO Bloggers | Copyright: Rawpixel.com | Fotolia #101962153

WEF Davos – Data about the DrKPI BlogRank: Best 100 CEO Bloggers
Copyright: Rawpixel.com | Fotolia #101962153

4. Peter F. Drucker: Metrics can help you improve performance

When I was a student, Peter F. Drucker once told me (I am paraphrasing his words):

Urs, how do you know you did well? You must define success beforehand, then measure your performance.

Of course, not everything should or can be measured.

Trying to assess how much Air Conditioning adds to your bottom line or return on investment (ROI) seems useless. Nevertheless, keeping your offices cool during summer seems sensible.

Hence, a CEO or c-suite executive should define success for their blog and then try to measure it. Comparing one’s performance to other similar blogs makes sense, and puts your work in context.

Take-away

When benchmarking oneself it helps to focus on best practice and the blog’s trendline. We can see if our level of resonance and the ripple our content gets on the social web is comparable. Necessary changes can help improve performance in the subsequent quarter.

Ranking CEO (top management) bloggers for WEF Davos 2017

CLICK on IMAGE - DrKPI - Top 100 CEO bloggers.We publish our DrKPI BlogRank: Top 100 CEO Bloggers every year (find more on the website).

These numbers can be at your fingertips; just bookmark this entry, Top blogs of Davos 2017 | World Economic Forum, and you are all set.

[su_box title=”Five WEF Davos 2017 Top 100 Blogs you want to bookmark” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 700″ ]
Important blog missing – yours! Please sign up right now and get the numbers.

Here are the links you need:

1. Overall list – WEF Davos 2017 Top 100 CEO bloggers – Christine Lagarde – IMF
2. Details – WEF Davos 2017 Best 100 CEO Bloggers – Richard Edelman – Edelman Trust Barometer
3. Details – Content Strategy – WEF Davos 2017 – Dr Francis Collins, NIH Director
4. Details – Brand Image and Impact – WEF Davos 2017 Best 100 CEO Bloggers – Maler Heyse
5. Details – Conversation and Social Sharing – WEF Davos 2017 Best 100 CEO Bloggers – Ron Tolido – Capgemini

Check out the table below!
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By the way, many luminaries attending this year’s WEF blog too rarely (minimum one entry in the last 90 days) to be included (e.g., Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation).

Make sure that your robots.txt file is set up so search engines can crawl and index your blog. Of course, George Colony: The Counterintuitive CEO may not care, since he is already famous. But if you are not, beware… here is some help for non-geeks on how to set up your robots.txt file correctly.

[su_box title=”WEF Davos CEO Bloggers: Three lessons learned” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 700″ ]
The superstar reigns supreme in the media, publishing and blogging business. If you are famous or have a well-known brand (e.g., your company), it helps tremendously. So if you have left Google or Red Bull, this will separate the wheat from the chaff. Are you still in the top ranks or has your ripple / engagement dropped like a stone?

Below we have used high performing bloggers in one of the three areas we measure and interpreted their high score. We explain why they did so well.

1. Content Marketing & Strategy (Blogger: Randy Tinseth – Boeing)

Randy’s headlines are short and attention-grabbing. His writing style is also to the point – short sentences and paragraphs are the norm. Loved by mobile users.

2. Brand Image and Brand Strength (Blogger: David Armano – Edelmann)

Naturally, how you present yourself, as well as your employer or company does matter. If you just share your thoughts or opinion, added value is not always easy to grasp for the casual reader.

David uses graphics and visuals nicely, but as importantly, he provides links to additional material on the company site and others. Quality is key.

3. Influence, Resonance and Social Shares (Blogger: Carsten Ulbricht – Bartsch Rechtsanwälte)

Readers who care or are inspired write comments. But often we are lucky if just 1 out of 1,000 readers shares a blog entry. If 1 out of 10,000 visitors writes a comment, we’re thrilled.

Social shares are a flash in the pan – important now, but gone in less than 10 seconds in my feed… They do little for building a long-term relationship with your clients or getting potential clients to talk about your product.

Bill Gates gets the best score = 100 for his social ripple, i.e. how his content is being shared on social networks, just above Richard Branson. Nevertheless, both have had zero reader comments over the last 90 days.
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Have your say –  join the conversation

Source: WEF Davos 2017: Best 100 CEO bloggers

What is your opinion?

– Who is your favorite top management, c-suite or CEO blogger?
– What would you recommend a CEO blogger such as Jean-Pascal Tricoire (CEO of Schneider Electric) do to get more reader comments (1,000 likes, 13,000 views BUT 0 reader comments)?
– Since it takes Elon Musk six days to go from having an idea to its execution, what would you recommend he do to revive his stale blog?

More about DrKPI BlogRank – the Hit Parade

Declaration of Conflicting Interests

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry.

[su_box title=”WEF Davos 2017 Top 100 Bloggers: How it works” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 700″ ]
We did not just gather the over 100 CEO / c-suite blogs we liked best. Instead, our DrKPI® BlogRank picked those that feature the most informative, knowledgeable and experience driven insights, using objective indicators. We also analyse writing style and visual effects, as well as how much reader engagement, dialogue and ripple is generated by marketing content published in the blog.

100 is the highest possible grade for each indicator. The average within the group of blogs being ranked or all blogs (see table below) is 50.
[/su_box]

Top 100 CEO blogs

Learn more about the table below from the above blog entry. Get the numbers below with this click.

Register your blog right her

WHAT do Branson, Gates, Obama, Musk, Xi Jin-Ping, Christine Lagard have in common: Most are among the 100 best CEO bloggers

WHAT do Branson, Gates, Obama, Musk, Xi Jin-Ping & Christine Lagard have in common? Most are among the best 100 CEO bloggers – find out who from DrKPI.

What customers would like to get for 2017 when it comes to GREAT customer service. | Urheber: MaskaRad | Fotolia #97117209

In short, we all have wishes for 2017 (I wish for better customer service in my Christmas stocking). The bad news is, you better manage three challenges to improve your customer service.
The good news is, there’s some low hanging fruit: change quality control, improve procedures for handling client requests / questions, and use one little modification of your marketing team’s behaviour.
It’s that easy, trust me. We spell it out below.

Customer service is constantly gaining importance, and we need the right procedures to deal with a flood of inquiries. Online chat is often expected, and 24/7 service is the norm.

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We discussed how challenging this can be a fortnight ago in, Booking.com, Yeego: NH Hotel Group #epicfail. Now we present another case and we have some pointers on how customer service mishaps can be reduced in our and your organisation.

1. Mistakes happen: Let’s make fewer errors

We all make mistakes and that won’t change any time soon. Keeping the number reasonably low, however, is a great start to improving things.

For instance, avoid situations in which your service or advertising is confusing for your clients. In turn, they have to get clarification = more work for you. Worst is if they decide not to buy because asking is too cumbersome for them. Instead they choose a product that may not be as good as yours but seems better because the service is more easily accessible.

One example is below. If your Cyber Monday Week ad is incorrect, you will get people like me to inquire.

Answering customer inquiries that result from our mistakes may be the right thing to do… but avoiding the situation altogether would be better. In turn, we have to answer fewer emails from clients :-)

Vidar Brekke - CMO Highsoft explains 2016-12-06 in an email to DrKPI: "Highstock, Highcharts and Highmaps, ... individually would amount to $2370. The savings are $1210, not $550, which equals a savings of over 50 percent, not 65 percent. We made the necessary corrections on our site."

Vidar Brekke – CMO Highsoft explains 2016-12-06 in an email to DrKPI: “Highstock, Highcharts and Highmaps, … individually would amount to $2370. The savings are $1210, not $550, which is equals a savings of over 50 percent, not 65 percent. We made the necessary corrections on our site.”

The above email is wrong: a 65 percent discount means it should cost $829. The same error was still on the website December 1. I and many other newsletter subscribers got another email with the wrong pricing on December 1, 2016.

Take-away

Discounts are popular, but you have to get it right. Moreover, if a client points out the error and wants the product at the discount you stated, you should come though on your promise.

2. KISS – Keep it simple, stupid: Beware of scalability

In 2012 a Long Island student created a ruckus by going public with the fact that Steve Jobs refused to be helpful for her semester assignment. But he was of the opinion that helping students was not part of his job description.

From: Steve Jobs [address and header confirmed – CA]
To: Chelsea Isaacs
Subject: Re: Mr. Jobs – Student Journalist Concerned about Apple’s Media Relations Dept.

Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade. Sorry.
Sent from my iPhone

See more here: 2010-09-20 – The Guardian – Steve Jobs: not what you’d call helpful to a trainee journalist. At the time, I wrote the following in our previous blog called Commetrics:

Let us be clear: a CEO like Steve Jobs has better things to do than help a student write her paper for a university course. Of course, if this had happened with my company’s CEO, the student would have gotten an answer. But at most, we get one such request a month AND we enjoy giving an answer since it allows us to gain some more insight.

In our case study with Highsoft, I went to the trouble to write an email to Grethe Hjetland, Highsoft’s CEO. I pointed out this problem to her, suggesting she get it fixed quickly to avoid any backlash.

I got no answer for more than two days. So I went to the trouble to write to the Chief Marketing Officer.

For Ms Hjetland it might be useful to have a procedure in place for such cases. The procedure would spell out what is to happen when she is out of town.

One possibility is an assistant who checks your email every morning and does triage, deciding which emails the CEO will need to reply to herself. Emails in a second group the assistant forwards to those best qualified to reply. The last group of emails get replied to by the assistant (if a reply is needed), or are simply archived.

If done correctly, this limits the number of emails the CEO has to wade or muddle through every morning while on vacation or a business trip. If emails are passed on, however, the procedure needs to include a follow-up. For instance, I triage of emails myself. Some emails that I am not qualified to reply to are sent to those within the organisation.

However, five days after I pass on an email, I will check whether the person has sent a reply. Or I might just send a short note to the person who inquired, saying something like, “I hope you have gotten an answer from us regarding the question you sent me…”

Generally, my email gets a response from the client 99 percent of the time. Usually it states that they are pleased that I have followed up. Sometimes I also get information that helps me do my work better.

Take-away – your customer service must be up to standard

Like Steve Jobs taught us, a company’s goal may not include helping a student get a good grade, but surely we want to address issues raised by clients as quickly as possible. Of course, in our small organisation I can answer most incoming emails myself. In Grethe Hjetland’s case, in a large organisation this is not possible. Instead, she needs a procedure in place that helps her get rid of emails like mine, while still getting them answered.

I got an answer in a roundabout way (see below). Unfortunately, this meant I had to spend more time than necessary to get it resolved. Totally unnecessary if your customer service is up to snuff.

Traditional red Christmas stockings - what we wish for 2017 - better customer service | Copyright: Family Business | Fotolia #94352650

Traditional red Christmas stockings – what we wish for 2017 – better customer service
| Copyright: Family Business | Fotolia #94352650

3. Truth in advertising: Do not add insult to injury

Since 2005, Cyber Monday takes place the Monday after the US Thanksgiving holiday and following Black Friday. It has turned into a four-day weekend of pre-Christmas sales. These days, Cyber Monday is spreading its wings to various countries in Europe such as the UK. Even in Switzerland, some store chains like InterDiscount have specials on Cyber Monday.

This is probably the reason why Norwegian company Highsoft AS sent out a mailing to its subscribers with the offer shown above. The CMO and myself went back and forth, and he acknowledged and apologised for the error.

Remember, 65 percent of $2370 is $1541. Truthful advertising requires that the final sales price is therefore $829.

Around December 16, just about three weeks after I pointed out this error, the Chief Marketing Officer had passed on my last email reply to an associate. This new person wrote me the following email:

From: Katharina von Oltersdorff-Kalettka at highsoft.com
Subject: Re: Cyber Monday – Misleading Ad?
Date: 19 December 2016 at 08:28:24 GMT+1
To: Urs.Gattiker

Hi Urs,
thanks for getting in touch.
I am Katharina, one of the Global Account Managers at Highsoft.
I am more than happy to give you the (although no longer valid) price of $1160 for the Highcharts Suite. This is a package price that includes Premium Support. An option for purchasing it without the premium support is not available.
Let me know if you would still like to proceed and I can arrange for that.
Much thanks,

With regards,
Katharina von Oltersdorff-Kalettka
Global Account Manager
Highsoft AS

Remember, 65 percent of $2370 makes up $1541, which would give us a sales price of $829.

What does the above email suggest?

  1. After several email exchanges, Vidar Brekke, Chief Marketing Officer of Highsoft decided to pass on the case to a co-worker. But how much information (i.e. all the email exchanges he had with me) did he pass on to her?
  2. Ms von Oltersdorff-Kalketta either did not get a copy of the whole conversation I had with Vidar Brekke or she may not have read it properly. Nevertheless, it sounds like I should be grateful to get the 50 percent discount.

What adds insult to injury is that it should show and reflect the adverised 65 percent discount. Truth in advertising requires that you keep your promises. Does this not violate my trust? Mind you, this is a company that claims on its website:

We are trusted by… 72 of the 100 largest companies… of the Fortune Global 500.

Trust is great, including truthful advertising. From Highsoft I wish to get truthful marketing campaigns and a speedier customer service. Moreover, starting in 2017, I do not want to get the runaround anymore when I point out an error in advertising.

Take-away

As an entrepreneur I have learned that it is sometimes smarter and faster to get the job done yourself. In this case, I would have sent the last email stating the final price, i.e. $829 to customer. The associate would have gotten a carbon copy and would have processed the order. Then she would have sent a confirmation to me about the order, such as a pdf file. In turn, our accounting department could process the payment.

  1. Apparently, CEO Grethe Hjetland does not have a procedure that takes care of such incoming email. But she requires one, considering the amount she must be getting, making it impossible to answer mine, and
  2. CMO Vidar Brekke should always finish a job he starts. In this case it would have resulted in this potential client not getting more run arounds.

Highsoft AS provides a great product that the company continues to improve continuously. Hats off!

If it now could just do the same in its sales and marketing, this would be the best service the company could do for all its clients. Wouldn’t it? And customers’ word-of-mouth marketing will surely help improve brand awareness.

4. Have your say – join the conversation

Source: Steve Jobs and great customer service: 3 keys to success

What is your opinion?

  • Do you remember the last time you had a company wriggle out of honouring its own advertising?
  • What procedure do you have in place, if a customer or potential customer sends an email to any C Suite employee?
  • What bugs do you hate the most when you need customer service?

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry (i.e. I neither got a freebie from any of the mentioned companies nor are they our clients to the best of my knowledge).

By the way, we had a similar problem with a customer for our DrKPI software. I decided that it was our advertising error. Truthfulness in advertising is very important to me. Accordingly, the client who made us aware of the error got a freebie worth $1475. All others who paid or ordered before we changed the price, got a refund for the difference due to our error.

We felt that this was only fair, because we do not want to be accused of false or deceptive advertising.

I hope next year will bring us all better customer service. Happy Holidays | Copyright: JenkoAtaman | Fotolia #125884035

I hope next year will bring us all better customer service. Happy Holidays
| Copyright: JenkoAtaman | Fotolia #125884035

Final remarks

In case you’re interested, while Highsoft AS has a blog, it does not allow for client engagement, such as the option of leaving a reader comment. This means fostering engagement and dialogue has been deactivated. Surprising and so much Web 1.0.

Here’s the blog’s data as of today, and get more from DrKPI here.

Highchart Software's Corporate Blog does not allow for reader comments | so Web 1.0 instead of Web 2.0 | Urheber: DrKPI®

Highchart Software’s Corporate Blog does not allow for reader comments
| so Web 1.0 instead of Web 2.0 | Copyright: DrKPI®

My Feedback for NH Hotel Group: Reservation Helpline = #bigfail | Urheber: Anyaberkut |auf Fotolia #107478254

Summary: Leveraging your digital prowess means providing great online service to start with.
This case study outlines how digital failings can lower trust and reputation.
How this affects your brand equity is discussed.

Last month I made my travel plans to attend the 43. Deutscher Marketing Tag (43rd German Marketing Day, see the interesting program – PDF file, 2.4 MB).

One of the first questions was whether to book my hotel using an online platform or directly on the hotel’s website?

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Of course I had heard about the duopoly of Expedia and Booking.com. They handle four out of five agency bookings in Europe. At 80 percent, that means that the third operator, HBS, has apparently lost a lot of ground recently. Other small competitors and start-ups, such as  bookbedder, are offering property owners better terms.

But hotel owners do not necessarily like these platforms. For instance, you pay a 12 to 15 percent commission to Booking.com. However, regardless of customer evaluations, your property may still rank seventeenth on the list. If you increase Booking.com’s commission to 40 percent, you’re suddenly ranked first, as experienced by Thomas Küble, manager of Berne’s Ambassador and City hotels.

Brand equity seems to play some role in this game of chess. According to David A. Aaker brand equity is like a chest of drawers with the following:

1. Awareness of the brand, meaning our target audience knows about our brand – or not.
2. Associations with, and beliefs about the brand (e.g., associating the brand with sustainability).
3. Attitude towards the brand (i.e. positive, negative or no opinion).

The following NH Hotel Group reservation staff case neatly illustrates how digital prowess can influence a person’s belief about a brand. We also outline how someone’s attitude toward the brand changes in the process of making a hotel reservation.

1. Price match

The first thing a hotel would want to do is match the price on any of these platforms. In other words, you do not have to undercut them, but offering the same value for money is obvious. Let me explain.

For my stay during the Marketing Day in Leipzig, I looked at Booking.com and other platforms, including the hotel’s own e-commerce shop: NH Hotel Leipzig Messe.

NH Hotel Leipzig Conference - Surprise us, please.

NH Hotel Leipzig Conference – Surprise us, please.

When I checked the NH Hotel Group’s own reservation platform, I found the price as listed below. An additional €10 or more on top would be due for breakfast.

Room rate of €98.90 plus breakfast = 30 percent more than elsewhere online. Does that build customer loyalty?

Room rate of €98.90 plus breakfast = 30 percent more than elsewhere online.
Does that build customer loyalty?

So I started searching the web to see if I could find something cheaper. I found several platforms that offered me a room in Leipzig for a similar or even lower price. Because I wanted to stay near the conference venue, the NH Hotel Leipzig Messe was ideal. What puzzled me a bit was that some platforms offered me a lower price for this hotel than its own website did.

Hence, I checked if the hotel would match any of those lower rates.

2. Make things easy for your client

The price guarantee below shows that for all practical purposes, advance bookings have to be paid in full and are non-refundable. Quite common in the industry (see also Accor Hotels). This rule is important for getting the refund, as I will explain a bit further below.

The rate conditions are standard, i.e. you pay in advance and incur a charge if you cancel your reservation.

The rate conditions are standard, i.e. you pay in advance and incur a charge if you cancel your reservation.

So I wanted to take NH Hotel Group up on its offer to match a competing platform’s offer. You can get hold of reservation staff via phone or chat.

I tried the chat twice, i.e. I lost the agent once so I had to try a second time. After the first try, I called, but was told the phone agent could not help.

So after wasting 10 minutes on the phone I tried the chat a second time to see what the NH Hotel Group would do about following its Best Price Guarantee (see above).

To do this via the chat, you need to present NH Hotel Group with the competing offer. So I sent the yeego.com policy as a screenshot.

Yeego - owned by Italian Escapade S.R.L. offers a 25 percent better deal than the NH Hotel Group's own website. Does that make economic sense?

Yeego – owned by Italian Escapade S.R.L. offers a 25 percent better deal than the NH Hotel Group’s own website. Does that make economic sense?

Yeego’s cancellation policy (see above) is actually way better than what NH Hotel Group offers (see below).

When a best price guarantee is worth less than the paper it is written on - NH Hotels - sounds great, but in reality it is a #epicfail.

When a best price guarantee is worth less than the paper it is written on – NH Hotels – sounds great, but in reality it is a #epicfail.

3. Building trust: Apply your Price Guarantee correctly

The agent from NH Hotel Group compared the Yeego policy with theirs. Anyone would expect that NH Hotel Group would offer me the room for €80 less 10 percent, as stipulated in the policy, which would add up to €72 including breakfast. Think again!

Below I show the critical part of the chat protocol indicating why NH Hotel Group was ‘unable’ or ‘unwilling’ to follow their Price Guarantee Policy.

NH Hotel Group's Best Price Booking Guarantee is a strange one... if the competition's conditions are more lenient and generous, NH does not match the offer... go figure!

NH Hotel Group’s Best Price Booking Guarantee is a strange one… if the competition’s conditions are more lenient and generous, NH does not match the offer… go figure!

As you can see further, Yeego.com offers me a refund in full minus a €15 fee. All I have to do is cancel at least seven days in advance using their website. By contrast, NH Hotel Group only offers me a ten percent refund.

Obviously, Yeego is more generous than NH Hotel Group, even with their refund policy. Which means – according to their rules – NH Hotel Group is not required to honour their price guarantee. That does not make sense, but it is exactly what the reservation agent told me as shown above.

What does this tell us? Read on and find out.

[su_box title=”3 takeaways: How hotels make it EASY for Booking.com, Expedia and HBS.com to succeed” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]

1. Damaging trust: Make sure your staff does not truly understand your policies

If you offer to price match, and take an additional ten percent off (in my case €72 price for room and breakfast), do it. In other words, don’t tell me that because the other site’s refund policy is better, and yours is misleading, you won’t make it right. You’re basically telling me you don’t want my business, and that’s just ridiculous.

Using a loop hole to avoid honouring your own policy when push comes to shove damages clients’ trust in your brand.

2. Buyer beware: Use your digital means to annoy your clients

“We’ve seen from our customer research that 65 percent of all guests are likely to re-book hotels where they’ve had a great experience, and staff attentiveness ranks as the top driver of great hotel experiences.” – PWC

Having to jump through too many hoops to get an answer from your service agent does not make a great FIRST impression.

Worse is that I will likely tell my colleagues and friends about it. In short, through this blog entry, you and many others now know the NH Hotel Group’s price guarantee is not worth the screen you see it on.

If this does not amount to an example of what negative word-of-mouth marketing can do to PR, what does?

3. Damaging reputation: Adding insult to injury

Making it hard for your client to get their problem resolved does injury to your relationship. It also shows that you still need to learn a lot in order to master digital sales. However, you add insult to injury if you fail to do right by your client.

Two things can happen. First, customers may shy away from booking a room via your own platform. Instead they may prefer using Expedia or Booking.com to make a reservation. Second, for each room sold that way, your net revenue will be reduced by 15 percent or more. This is the additional cost you must bear in the form of a commission paid for each room and night sold through these platforms.

As a business owner, I find this a strange way to improve your company’s ROI (return on investment).[/su_box]

4. Have your say – join the conversation

Source: Booking.com, Yeego: NH Hotel Group #epicfail

What is your opinion?

  • Do you remember the last time you had a company wriggle out of honouring its own policy?
  • How do you ensure that your employees know how to interpret a company policy correctly?
  • What bugs you the most when it comes to shopping online?

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry (i.e. I neither got a freebie from any of the mentioned companies nor are they our clients).

To put the icing on this proverbial cake, maintenance of NH Hotel Group’s website is done during the week.

So, when people want to book on a regular weekday morning, they get nothing. My visit on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, around 08:30 (MET) yielded this:

Your site is under maintenance during regular local business hours. Does this build customer loyalty? Maybe try Friday or Saturday night at midnight, instead? You know, when people aren't trying to sned business your way... All together now: #epicfail

Your site is under maintenance during regular local business hours. Does this build customer loyalty? Maybe try Friday or Saturday night at midnight, instead? You know, when people aren’t trying to sned business your way… All together now: #epicfail

Final remarks

Because Yeego.com offered a better guarantee (i.e. refund policy), I booked there for €80 including breakfast. I will see on November 23 how attentive the staff is when I stay overnight.

In David A. Aaker’s language about brand equity, this case illustrates that my association and beliefs about the brand changed. I associate it not with keeping its promises as stated in the Price Guarantee. My attitude towards the brand has moved from no opinion to a negative one. Maybe my visit to the Leipzig property will change that.

EU Referendum, European fallout, broken utopia, like fake online reviews: IT CANNOT BE TRUE, CAN IT? | Urheber: Miriam Dörr| Fotolia #111044349

Summary: What does the Brexit crisis have in common with fake online reviews?
What role can data analytics and analysis play in this saga?
This post provides guidance for depending on hashtags and online reviews.

Pollsters and punters had the Remain campaign winning the Brexit vote by a hair. But the headlines this and last week speak to a different tune.

The Pound Sterling fell as traders prepared for a cut in the interest rate. Some felt that Britain was starting to imitate Greece and called it Britain’s Greek tragedy…

So are we analysts and number crunchers to blame? Here are some things the Brexit crisis has taught us big data pundits.

1. Hashtags do not win elections

Groups tapped into social media in the hope of persuading the young to join in (or out). Stars joined campaigns and let themselves be used as messengers in videos. Nevertheless, all this failed to sway enough voters to go to the polls.

Just about two weeks before the referendum was held Thursday 2016-06-23, Adam & Eve DDB tried its luck with an online video campaign featuring celebrities and swear words, including this example:
[su_spacer]

[su_spacer]
Nevertheless, featuring Keira Knightly failed to give it much traction on YouTube. Maybe just another example for how advertising professionals know far less than they claim about what it takes to make a viral video.

Inspiring young people to vote in the EU referendum proved tough in the UK. But other countries have similar experience. For instance, in Switzerland younger people tend to vote less often than their elders.

Brandwatch did a study about hashtags for the Brexit campaign. Unfortunately, data are sketchy. Did they include the hashtag #voteremain that was apparently used 600,000 times in their analysis? And what about others?

#Voteexit was used over a million times, but was that the only Brexit hashtag? What about those social media users that used several hashtags in their tweets for one campaign?

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Besides, using a hashtag does not mean my tweet is positive toward that particular side of the campaign. And does voicing our opinion using social media mean we go to the trouble of voting?

Nor has social media been known to change people’s firm opinions, so who cares about the social media echo chamber. It is the voting booth that counts, stupid.

2. Fake online reviews and your cash register

Like hashtags fail to necessarily sway a large group of voters, so do fake online reviews. But some attribute increasing importance to them. In fact, Social Bites won awards and was feted by social media ‘influencers’.

Unfortunately, it all turned out to be a fake used by Mark Cowper to show how much social network content is fake (see image below). The Twitter account has now been closed.

In particular, this highlights how influencers let themselves be swayed and thereby provide their fans or followers with useless information or fake content / reviews.

Read: Fake online reviews

What is really sad is that the campaign grabbed a lot of attention on social networks and in the media.

But can we conclude that all this hype would have resulted in more sales? The site never got launched, but this could well indicate that buzz has little to do with your bottom line.

Social Bites won awards and was feted by social media ‘influencers’ but it was a fake.

Social Bites won awards and was feted by social media ‘influencers’ but it was a fake.

Nevertheless, fake online reviews are becoming a plague. So much so that the UK government decided to investigate online reviews late last year.

Read the interesting press release here: Press Release – UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) takes enforcement action against fake online reviews

March 2016, the authority published some guidance for businesses on what is okay under the law. Check out the report here: Guidance Online reviews: letting your customers see the true picture – see image below.

What do you need to do if you are a business whose products are being reviewed?

What you need to do if you are a business whose products are being reviewed?

3. Should I put trust in reviews from associates?

Mark Cowper’s experiment nicely illustrates the problem of how sharing of fake reviews and wrongful information affect one’s online reputation.

In turn, he wanted to illustrate that we need a review platform that provides us with product reviews from our trusted network.

The idea is great. Getting recommendations from my trusted network sounds like a classic word-of-mouth marketing approach.

We love to hear our friends’ experiences before we buy (see screenshot below – find and save recommendations from your trusted network).

Recomazing, a social network that enables people to review, share and find reviews from their real-life network of friends and relatives.

Recomazing, a social network that enables people to review, share and find reviews from their real-life network of friends and relatives.

Unfortunately, the Recomazing network is a perfect example of sunk costs. I have already invested in having an online presence on such platforms as Twitter, Google+, Flickr, Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram and Tencent.

So starting anew on Recomazing also means some switching costs.

  • Is it worth it?
  • Who has the time to join another network, never mind write and read product reviews about things one will never buy?
  • Do we have the time – or is it just so entertaining (e.g., like watching a video) that we do not mind spending time on a network about product reviews?

Besides, while this may work in OZ (Australia and New Zealand), hardly any of my friends in Europe use it. So am I wasting my time joining? Probably.

Watch the short video below and you’ll see what I mean.
[su_spacer]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NA2e7Raisv0
[su_spacer]

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[su_box title=”3 takeaways: Use product reviews wisely” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]

1. Hashtags help but may not make your cash register ring

Do we use actionable metrics, i.e. metrics which we can take action on?

If one million users use a hashtag, will it result in Trump or Clinton winning the election?
As the Brexit referendum illustrates, hashtags and social media activity did not swing the Remain vote enough to make a difference at the polls.

2. Do we understand the metrics behind the analysis?

If we analyse the numbers, were the online reviews from real or fake customers?
Are those people regulars or Chinese tourists that failed to understand the customer survey they were handed in German?

And before I forget: Have we even thought about the possibility of errors in our data set due to e.g., sampling bias, response bias or sampling error?

3. Wait a while before asking your out-of-town customers for feedback

I remember having dinner with my family at a restaurant in Amsterdam. Before we even got the bill, we were invited to rate them. The waiter brought us an iPad where we could enter our review right away.

It’s better to wait and then send your client a short survey (5 questions max). Or invite them to write a review / testimonial for your webpage. And yes, writing the review on a platform like TripAdvisor might not hurt.

Research demonstrates that giving your customer four weeks before asking for feedback is a smarter approach if you want better reviews.

Interesting read: How to boost online ratings legally

More interesting reads – misinformation tends to ripple… facts remain scarce

a) Word-of-mouth marketing can make a difference (in German)
b) Data analytics: Lessons learned from Ebola
c) Can infographics show you the money?
d) Scottish referendum: A false sense of precision?
e) Data analytics: UPS or Apple?
[/su_box]

4. Have your say – join the conversation

Source: Fake reviews? Lessons from Brexit

What is your opinion?

  • How do you decide what to buy?
  • Do you have a circle of friends that write online reviews regularly?
  • When was the last time you shopped for a brand or stayed at a hotel because of a review?
  • Do you remember last time your friend recommended a product based on their great experience (e.g., running shoe, coffee maker or going to shop at a store with knowledgeable and friendly staff) and you took their advice?

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry (i.e. I neither own any of these brands’ products nor are they our clients).

VW BP Daimler Toyota Mitsubishi Why do companies risk their reputation?

Please read Updates about Mitsubishi, Opel, GM, VW in the comments below.

Summary: VW intends to repurchase 480,000 vehicles in the US. Estimates put the final bill in excess of €45 billion. But how much damage will this cause to their:

– brand
– image (e.g., the image of the VW or Audi brands), AND
– reputation (e.g., reputation of the brand or company)?

Volkswagen has an interesting portfolio consisting of luxury brands as well as truck and low-cost car brands, as shown below.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3719″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”449px” Title=”Volkswagen brands read like a who’s who – how much will the emission scandal damage the value of their brands?” alt=”Volkswagen brands read like a who’s who – how much will the emission scandal damage the value of their brands?”]

1. Defining the terms

In daily life we may talk about brand, image and reputation interchangeably, without drawing a line between them.

But we cannot truly appreciate the value of something, if we do not unterstand what it is we are examining. And Jeff Bezos may have thought he was talking about brand, when he was actually talking about the reputation of the Amazon brand with its clients:

Your brand reputation is what people say about you after you have left the room.

We need to define brand, brand image and brand reputation. Only then can we be sure that we share the same vocabulary, which is the basis for understanding each other.

You need a great product. Your image of offering great design or R & D does not hurt the company either (for example, Apple). Crowned with a reputation for offering great client services (e.g., your neighbourhood grocer), you should do well in the market place.

[su_box title=”Table 1. Defining brand” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]
The word brand originated with the practice of putting a hot stamp on the bodies of young livestock to indicate ownership (i.e. branding calves). In the corporate world, a company’s logo or the lettering used for write its name may similarly serve as a stamp. It brands the firm.

The cattle brand helps one separate stock from Ranch A and Ranch B. In turn, the company’s brand or its logo help us recognize the product on the shelf.

The brand symbolizes what we stand for in the minds of people that we are trying to reach, influence and move to action (see Deborah Maue, 2015).

Brand is what the corporation tells the public or its investors, the news it shares about itself or the product, and most importantly, what it wants and aspires to be.

This gives the brand manager some control over the brand.

A brand helps reduce uncertainty for a client. The customer knows what they get, such as a hotel chain’s rooms offering the same features (make-up mirror, good hair dryer) as standard around the globe.

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But these days, mistakes can damage a brand’s image and consumer trust in the brand may evaporate as well.

For instance, in a 2016-04-20 media briefing Mitsubishi Motors president Tetsuro Aikawa tried to take responsibility for the manipulated fuel-economy test data. It affects 4 mini-car models sold in Japan, about 625,000 vehicles since 2013.

In just three trading days, the fuel-economy scandal has destroyed 42 percent of Mitsubishi Motors’ market value.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3711″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”339px” Title=”With the increasing complexity of the marketplace, CONSUMERS focus on select dimensions of products such as price, not quality.” alt=”With the increasing complexity of the marketplace, CONSUMERS focus on select dimensions of products such as price, not quality.”]

As the above research illustrates, with increasing market complexity, consumers may fall back on such factors as price, instead of focusing on quality.

Hence, as BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster suggests, Mitsubishi Motors can hope that people will forget that the company abused customer trust by falsifying fuel economy test data.

If that happens, customers may no longer focus on this disaster. Instead price or options offered with its cars may be most important in the decision-process to buy or not to buy a Mitsubishi Product.

[su_box title=”Table 2. Defining brand image” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]

A brand’s image tells us the qualities of the company or its products. Image is based on how much effort a company spends on getting its message across and its target audience to believe it (e.g., just do it – Nike).

Advertising is about image.

For instance, green advertising helped BP recover from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This means the visual, the look, the controlled viewpoint about an issue the company cares about, such as the environment, makes up the corporate or brand image.

As the video clip below shows, with the help of TV spots Volkswagen was trying to portray itself as producing cars running on “clean” diesel engines. Until September 2015 when the fuel emission scandal began, consumers believed this story.

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Advertising can be used to improve a corporate image or try to portray a greener image than one might otherwise have in the public’s eyes.

Watch this humorous VW commercial aired in the US.

[su_box title=”Defining brand or corporate reputation: An experience-centric concept.” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]

Attitude denotes the subjective, emotional, and cognitive based mindset (see Schwaiger, 2004, p. 49), which implies splitting the construct of reputation into affective and cognitive components.

The cognitive component of the construct can be described as the rational outcomes of high reputation. Examples include high performance, global reach and one’s perception of the company (e.g., great employer, wonderful customer service).

The affective component of reputation is the emotions that respondents have towards a company. Thus, people talk about these things with friends (word-of-mouth). Media coverage can also influence how we feel toward a company.

Reputation is hard-earned and generally long-standing. Nevertheless, it can be harmed by a new product that is shabbily put together or a big product recall as Toyota experienced with Prius in 2010 in the US and elsewhere.

Reputation is temporal, meaning for example that bad customer service will result in bad customer testimonials on webpages or blogs (what is called earned and social media).

Reputation is primarily based on my experience (i.e. cognitive) and what my friends say (affective). Hence, a bad experience may get me to write a bad product review or a post on Facebook. Good and bad press about a brand is also shared with one’s friends…

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Interesting: Fiske, Rosanna (2011-01-26). Image vs. Reputation: Which Reigns Supreme? Advertising Week, retrieved April 24, 2016 from http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/image-vs-reputation-which-reigns-supreme-125527?page=2

General Motors learned the temporal nature of reputation in 2014, after managing to deflect most of the blame for a 30 million vehicle recall on the habits of the old guard of the company, prior to a massive government bail-out. Never mind that GM knew all along about the ignition switch issue that caused up to 169 preventable deaths.

On February 1, 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak claimed that he had experienced a ‘software-related acceleration problem’ with his Prius, that causes the car to go wild under certain conditions when cruise control is engaged.

This and his comment that, “This is software. It’s not a bad accelerator pedal. It’s very scary, but luckily for me I can hit the brakes,” spread like wildfire via newswire, Twitter and others.

In early 2010 I wrote:

“We all remember when Audi (Volkswagen) faced unintended acceleration problems with its 5000 model in the US in the mid-1980s. Its initial response was to run advertisements of its top executives talking about its vehicles’ mechanics.

Audi was vindicated eventually but its effort to regain customers’ trust flopped amid perceptions that it built bad cars and was not taking the problem seriously. It took Audi 10 years to recover from this public relations debacle…”

Of course, one can only hope that #dieselgate will not hurt Volkswagen and its brands for another 10 years. But the share price drop as well as the compensations to be paid to US car owners whose models are affected suggest that it will be worse (see chart below for more information).

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3710″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”456px” Title=”-15.4 percent yer-on-year fall in VW brand car sales in the US, 1 in 20 German jobs depends on the sector.” alt=”-15.4 percent yer-on-year fall in VW brand car sales in the US, 1 in 20 German jobs depends on the sector.”]

2. Bottom line

Arguing which has greater influence — image or reputation — is likely a moot point.

Nevertheless, the two are linked, as the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill suggests. At the time, many Americans called for BP boycotts and sales took a hit despite the fact that BP was still selling the same fuel it was selling before the crisis.

In essence, BP’s negative reputation caused consumers to perceive BP’s brand differently.

Reputation, then, is best used as a way for companies to differentiate themselves from other organizations with the same brand.

It takes plenty of money and effort to build a great image. But one mistake can cost a company dearly. For instance, Nike and TAG Heuer ditched Maria Sharapova, the world’s highest paid female athlete, after she revealed she had failed a drugs test at the Australian Open in January 2016. Both brands felt it was too risky to continue sponsorship.

Although the two brands avoided a fall out from Maria Sharapova’s problems, the athlete’s marketability as an image ambassador was severely damaged.

Two intangibles VW and Mitsubishi Motors and competitors have to face.

  1. The effect on sales over the next couple of years, AND
  2. The effect of tighter regulations on future margins of car manufacturers.

How do VW car owners feel about the option of being offered a buy back or going for the fix and getting paid for it? We do not know if they will prefer getting $5,000 on top of the $1,000 they already have, or returning their car at market value. However, how owners perceive these options (positive or negative) and how VW handles European regulators and customers will affect its reputation.

As far as Volkswagen’s image is concerned? The damage may pass. However, regulator fines, compensating customers and losing sales will continue affecting the firm’s bottom line for a while yet.

Nevertheless, both VW and Mitsubishi have not had their last chance to hurt their reputation. How they handle their respective scandals from here, and whether they reform their corporate culture, will matter. Moreover, the possibility, not yet addressed, of the scale of lawsuits from aggrieved U.S. dealers and individual U.S. states for VW’s possible fraudulent advertising should worry shareholders.

What VW’s #dieselgate and Mitsubishi Motors’ falsified test results says about these companies’ internal procedures and ethics is another chapter in this saga.

3. Have your say – join the conversation

Source: Brand image and reputation: VW pays dearly for #Dieselgate

What is your opinion?

  • What do you advise a company to do when a public relations disaster is in the making?
  • Will people forget Volkswagen #dieselgate as they did the BP Horizon Deepwater disaster?
  • Did UK and French regulators do the right thing, waiting until US regulators set the stage (e.g., how much compensation per car, fines, etc.)?

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry (i.e. I neither own any of these brands’ products nor are they our clients).

Check the original research first, before you re-tweet the URL

Summary: 4 tips for using storytelling to create great fact-based content.
Martha Lane Fox (founder of lastminute.com) is right in suggesting instinct should be ditched.

Recently I came across a LinkedIn Update from my colleague Karen Dietz that made it clear that if I started my blog post with a story, I would get:

  1. 300 percent more visitors, And
  2. 68.5 percent more reader engagement beyond the first mobile phone screen.

Who would not want to achieve such results? I was intrigued.

Then my colleague Sandra turned around and said:

“Urs, show me the numbers.”

I answered:

“Sure Sandra, no problem. I just need to dig for them first.”

So I shared my insights with Sandra, but also thought that my experience hunting for these numbers is definitely worth sharing with you!

Learn about 4 things great bloggers do better.

This post is part of our series on business analytics and big data.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3581″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”309px” Title=”Karen Dietz Update on LinkedIn: Is this maybe too good to be true?” alt=”Karen Dietz Update on LinkedIn: Is this maybe too good to be true?”]

Permanent Link to the above Status Update from Karen, found on my LinkedIn Update list 2016-03-27.

1. Storytelling is what it takes

So I clicked on the LinkedIn post that got me to Karen’s scoop.it page with the story (2016-03-28). There I clicked a link again. This brought me to 5 Storytelling Methods to Captivate Your Audience (2016-02-28), published in the Search Engine Journal.

Here the author outlines that somebody else did an A/B test. One of the blog entries had a story at the beginning and the other started with the topic of the blog entry right away. Sure enough, the former supposedly got 300 percent more readers than the one without a story at the beginning.

The Search Engine Journal’s entry referred me to a Buffer blog entry by Alex Thompson entitled, The power of storytelling: How we got 300% more people to read our content, from 2014-04-22. Here, he supposedly unravels the mystery by going into detail as far as this case study is concerned.

After some digging, I learned that the A/B test was really sending two types of emails containing the blog entry. One began with a story and the other dove right in.

Okay, is testing whether a blog entry attracts readers versus what works better in an emailed newsletter the same? Personally, I think those are two vastly different things.

Plus, Alex never gets around to telling us exactly how many people participated in the A/B test and how the sample was selected (e.g., clients, webpage visitors, combination thereof, etc.).

But the example below does not suggest this kind of storytelling works, does it?

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3675″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”563px” Title=”Nemu Chu at Kissmetrics Blog – telling me a crazy story in 173 words before you get to the beef I want to read is not effective use of the story metaphor ” alt=”Nemu Chu at Kissmetrics Blog – telling me a crazy story in 173 words before you get to the beef I want to read is not effective use of the story metaphor”]

2. Gut feelings are out, science is in

The fact is that science tells us that a person decides whether or not to read your story within the first five to ten seconds. If just your title is 12 words long, you have five seconds left to get the person’s attention – at most.

Using a story about driving a Porsche blindfolded is cute… but will it get your target audience’s attention? Of course, we are all smart and at least one of us will point out:

What is the target audience? Are these geeks doing social media monitoring, managers or housemen/housewives?

This is an important question. Research with over 400,000 page visitors to some of the biggest websites in the US provides the answer. It points out regardless of your target audience, they want a headline that is relevant to them. As well, if the first three lines of text fail to convey anything important, 60 percent will already be gone by line four.

Hence, striving for high quality content means short introductory stories at the beginning might work very well. Long-winded intros are less likely to encourage your reader to go beyond the second mobile screen.

3. Facebook or Twitter: Check before sharing

Getting 300 percent more readers thanks to starting a blog entry with a story is a wonderful result. But I hope you do not mind me asking:

– What type of story are we talking about (e.g., length, relevance, etc.)?
– What type of story will work with my audience?

I was unable to get an answer to these questions in those blog entries as mentioned above.

So I took the trouble to dig a bit deeper in the subject matter. For instance, in the Search Engine Journal’s entry the author had used a model from a study on mice (see below).

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3598″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”781px” height=”472px” Title=”Nice graphic – that is the proposed model, but what about the one confirmed by Lisrel analysis? That looks a bit different!” alt=”Nice graphic – that is the proposed model, but what about the one confirmed by Lisrel analysis? That looks a bit different!”]

I then found the original paper from which the above graphic was taken. Read it here (sign up free to view and download the paper): The Customer loyalty to content-based Web sites: The case of an online health-care service. Journal of Services Marketing, Vol 18(3):175-186, May 2004

The paper yielded some interesting new facts that we should ponder.

For instance, on page 179 of the paper, the reader is told that the study is based on 421 usable responses on a health site. Where the site is located and in which language content is written is not clear.

We are also told that the online survey was responded to by 6 percent of those that were asked to fill it out while visiting the website. Moreover, 93 percent of these respondents are women (see page 180).

Just looking at this information tells us that the study does not allow us to generalise from its findings due to sample selection and so forth.

Also, “Need fulfillment” is set to equal content quality by the Search Engine Journal’s author Razvan Gavrilas. However, as the study clarifies, need fulfillment was measured using four items. We are not given their exact wording except one: Net Clinic meets my personal needs (page 179). For all I know, this could mean finding the doctor’s address I am looking for. That does not measure content quality, does it?

Put differently, the study does not address quality content. Hence, the Search Engine Journal’s author simply misconstrued the study’s findings, then wrote a great story about it. But storytelling based on misinterpreting research findings does not help us gain and maintain our readers’ trust.

4. Checklist

This story perfectly illustrates that one best check one’s sources carefully. Unless you prefer to have metaphorical egg on your face as a blogger?

Here are four science-based tips that will help you use storytelling effectively while building trust and reputation for your publication.

[su_box title=”The no bullshit guide to better blogging” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]
1. Mobile readers want you to get to the point – fast.
First, tell me why you think I should read this, and what I will get out of it (20 words max).

Second, don’t give me a 170-word story about the blindfolded Porsche driver. Start your blog entry with a great story but keep it to about 30 to 50 words maximum.

By the time they hit 60 to 100 words (including the headline), readers want to be convinced that reading onward is worth their time.

2. Remember your favourite librarian’s advice.
I remember a librarian telling students in her workshop for new library users: “When doing your semester paper, do not cite an article you found in some paper’s reference list before checking the original. It could be that the author misquoted it or misinterpreted the original paper’s findings.”

Of course, for some of us the clincher was that she stated: “If your professor knows the author or has read the original study, they will know if you misquoted or misinterpreted something. That could not only be embarrassing, but as importantly, lower your grade.”

Just checking a URL in a LInkedIn news update leading to a blog will not do. Go to the original study the blogger refers to and make sure they got it right.

3. Great science is a start.
As a blogger, check your sources. Does the article or white paper from Adobe represent science or a poorly-veiled sales pitch, though nicely packaged?

A first danger sign is a report that contains superfluous content or lacks a method section. Another sign could be that a lot of color and ink has been wasted to make things look pretty, but the report lacks any depth or detail.

4. Instinct and gut feelings have no place here.
Some examples:

10 Qualities of People With High Emotional Intelligence
These Are the 30 Most Motivational Books Ever Written
9 Affirmations the Most Successful People Repeat Each and Every Day
The Top 8 Skills Wealthy People Have Mastered

The headlines above are great link bait. And yes, unless our headline stirs the reader’s interest, they will never read anything beyond it.

Nevertheless, claiming something or suggesting a checklist based on your opinion will not do. Martha Lane Fox is right, ditch your instinct and opinions, but back your choices up with data and facts.

Of course, some master the art of an attention grabbing headline and then really deliver the bacon in their blog entries, such as: WordStream: 5 Lazy Tips to Cut Your PPC Budget in Half

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5.  Bottom line

CLICK - Starting with best science is a good start, but it must also lead to a better life.Asked what advice she wished she had received at 25, Martha Lane Fox, co-founder of Lastminute.com led with hiring. Instinct should be ditched, she told the BBC, in favour of a slower-burn audition of candidates (as mentioned by Emma De Vita 2016-03-28, FT p. 8).

Believing a person’s CV or LinkedIn Update (with a link to an article) is fine. Better yet is to go and check the original article, including research, to see if the claims made can be trusted.

In the case of hiring, encourage many staff to talk to the person. If possible, ask the candidate to spend a day or two at your office.

Headlines such as “6 things successful people do every morning” are great teasers. Inc. Wire is a master at this. However, besides some opinions from the authors of such entries, science does not play any role.

Instead, reading tea leaves or misinterpreting research if some is used is most likely the case. In turn, the suggestions should be taken with a grain of salt.

Would you rather trust a therapy to save your life based on somebody’s opinion or the best science and tests?
Are you willing to invest your hard earned cash in something somebody just believes in?
Would you not sleep better tonight if the numbers tell the story?

Let us focus more on observation of behaviour, instead of claims or accounts of people’s behaviour (e.g., as stipulated by authors of a blog or magazine article).

6. Have your say – join the conversation

I have decided to follow Sandra’s advice: “Urs, show me the numbers!”

  • What do you advise corporate bloggers to do to write high quality content?
  • Do you like reading a made-up kind of story at the beginning of a corporate blog entry?
  • Do you prefer the author cutting to the chase straight away in a blog entry?
  • Does any news you get from corporate blogs affect your decision-making at work?

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry.

Final thoughts

The sad fact is that in a world where BuzzFeed, Gawker, Vice, Vox and others increasingly chase advertising dollars, fewer and fewer resources are left over to check original sources. Instead, storytelling or headlines use click bait, sensationalism and so forth to get the clicks needed to gain the most pageviews.

The only option we have is to not waste our time on such content. If many of us stop, it will result in fewer clicks and advertising dollars for such sites. I have therefore decided to no longer visit Inc. Wire’s content. Nor do I care about Gawker or BuzzFeed. But I will not hold my breath that things will improve soon… Of course, quality content is not free – somebody pays. In the case of this blog, it’s my company :-)

Pray for Ilayda Yildiz #helpilayda

Help for cancer patients: FIND the right treatment and hospital.


Need this in German?
– Crowdfunding Kampagne: Rettet Ilayda

Ilayda’s Blog
Facebook Page
Donate now please – it makes a REAL difference

We have raised about €550,000 and we thank all those that keep donations coming in.

This blog entry is part of our series on viral marketing and word-of-mouth marketing – WOMMA


The 2016 Campaigning Summit Switzerland (CSCH) was held about ten days ago. This year’s event was great, just like in 2015. We met some very interesting people during #CSCH16 and we look forward to #CSCH17.

This year we made a real effort to get input from campaigning experts at the event. We wanted their input regarding our strategy and what needed to be done. We wanted help to further improve our chances for a successful project that crowdsourced people to help our crowdfunding campaign succeed, which would make it possible for a young girl to receive life-saving cancer treatment.

The support we got was amazing. People contacted their virtual as well as offline networks to reach out to the crowd for support. Of course, our hashtag #helpilayda seemed to help as well.

At the center of this story is Ilayda Yildiz. She was born December 17, 2005 in Singen, Germany, a community on the Swiss border. On February 27, 2012, shortly after turning six, Ilayda’s parents were informed that preliminary tests suggested their child had leukemia. Additional tests revealed it to be acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), also known as acute lymphoid leukemia or acute lymphoblastic leukemia. About 75 percent of all childhood leukemias are ALL (see New York Times – Leukemia In-Depth Report very nicely structured, plenty of facts, numbers and diagrams).

For 20 percent of those suffering from ALL, chemotherapy will not help. This is what happened to Ilyada Yildiz, who is now 10 years old, and has been fighting her disease for four years. Estimates suggest:

6,000 people in the US (National Cancer Institute),
1,500 in Germany, and
150 in Switzerland die annually because they suffer from a chemotherapy-resistant type of leukemia.

But thanks to a new therapy called T cell therapy, 92 percent of 39 kids treated using CAR T-Cell therapy showed no evidence of cancer one month after treatment (see Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia).

Various tests have found that the “CAR T-cell therapy can help patients that suffer under acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL),” (see ASH 2014, Abstract of study 382).

Unfortunately, this therapy is not covered by German or Swiss health insurance. The result is that those patients – primarily kids – die.

Just imagine what might happen if the treatment were covered:

Every year up to 1350 of 1500 patients in Germany, 130 of 150 patients in Switzerland and thousands more in France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands could be cured!

To help save Ilayda Yildiz’s life, we launched the #helpilayda #crowdfunding #campaign.

We recently spoke with Ilayda’s dad, Nuhaci Yildiz and asked him some questions. Here is the extended interview, translated into English. The shortened German version was also distributed to the press.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3545″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”410px” Title=”Nuhhaci Yildiz, Ilayda’s dad – #helpilayda” alt=”Nuhhaci Yildiz, Ilayda’s dad – #helpilayda”]

Your donation will help save Ilayda’s life – donate now to the campaign trust account

1. Did you ever imagine you would get the funds you need?

All we knew was that we had to do everything we could to raise the necessary money. So many people have helped with that, and to this day, some of the most important wish to remain anonymous. They helped us with strategy, went out on their own and made amazing contacts, who in turn have supported our efforts and still do.

Thanks to social networks like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, as well as YouTubers, bloggers, and print media, the campaign has gained enormous momentum since the end of February.

2. How much money have you raised so far?

We’ve raised over €500,000, and new donations come in every day. Even those funds will be put to good use, as the costs of follow-up and any additional treatments could easily reach another several hundred thousand, according to the doctors.

3. How do you feel about celebrities joining your cause?

We’re grateful, of course, but that was really just the beginning. The original idea behind having people like like Manuel Neuer, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sally and Bülent Ceylan take selfies was actually to cheer Ilayda up. Later, those selfies were shared among people’s social networks.

The major work of the ‘helpilayda’ campaign has only been going for about 10 days. We’re not quite sure where and how the donations are coming from. A lot is coming in through social media, but associations, private citizens, and corporations are also donating, among others. Plus a lot of supporters have done mass mailings and telephone campaigns on their own.

It is equally important that our situation is seen as an example of how amazing it is when people from across Europe and beyond help one another. Differences, whether race, religion, creed, or origin do not matter, and that fact is deeply moving.

4. Has Ilayda become a symbol for the fight against childhood cancers, and does that inspire pride, in spite of all your worry?

I don’t think I would use the word pride here. But I am convinced that many readers of this blog have been affected by similar situations in their lives, either directly or indirectly.

For example, someone in your immediate or extended family has a serious illness, which causes the family as a whole much pain, sorrow, and worry. Fear, loss of security (such as losing your job, as I did), etc., are all things that make a difficult situation even harder.

Our family is only one example. I am in awe of all the families I have had the privilege of meeting in the last five years. Many were brave and tried to make the best of very difficult situations, both medical and emotional. Each family suffers greatly when one of their children is so ill for so long.

5. When will Ilayda fly to the US and which clinic will she be treated at?

That’s an excellent question that we don’t know the answer to because it depends on so many factors.
Dr Rupert Handgretinger and his team in Tübingen are working to figure out when exactly Ilayda will be ready for such a long trip. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to leave within a couple of weeks, at the latest, because whatever we do, time is a critical factor. I’m sure the results of the next bone marrow biopsy will also play a part.

The clinic that will provide the treatment is also not yet clear, partly because we don’t know how soon Ilayda can fly to the US (i.e. a US travel visa), and which clinic can provide the best care as soon as possible. Of course, we hope to be on our way very soon. Even we still have several questions and this uncertainty is difficult to cope with.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3546″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”410px” Title=”Ilayda Yildiz having a good time” alt=”Ilayda Yildiz having a good time”]

6. What kind of therapy does Ilayda need?

Ilayda needs Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, which requires gene manipulation. Basically, the patient’s own T-cells are removed and modified in the lab so they recognize other cells with a specific protein and attack them. The CD19 protein, which is found on the surface of almost all Type B cells (both normal and cancerous) can be used for this type of therapy. These modified T-cells are known in the medical field at “CD19-chimeric antigen receptor T-cells” or “CD19-CAR T-cells” for short (more information from the US National Cancer Institute).

7. Once the treatment is successful, what, besides good health, is your greatest wish for your family?

My fondest wish is that we will be able to live a completely normal life again. For us, that means the children go back to school in Singen and play with others their age and enjoy their youth. My wife will have a little more time to do the things she enjoys. And hopefully, I’ll quickly find another job. Those are our most important wishes. A simple life that unfolds predictably.

8. What has been your experience of your fellow human beings during all your years of struggle? How has Ilayda managed to touch so many people so profoundly?

Many people have helped, both near and far; in Germany and neighbouring Switzerland. Most surprising has been the support from lands far from Singen, like the Netherlands and the US. We haven’t been able to meet many of these people in person yet. But they have all helped us with administration, communications, and much more.

The medical personnel has also been absolutely amazing in treating our daughter and their support has been huge. We would like to thank all of them for their care.

9. How is Ilayda’s sister?

Given the situation, she’s doing quite well. Of course, her school work is suffering, no question. But her life philosophy and way of being are often pillars of strength for us. I admire her strength and optimism.

10. Should people keep donating? Surely, you’ll need funds to live on after all these years of caring so devotedly for your daughter. Where should the donations be sent?

Our donation campaign is only about Ilayda. What we’re concerned about is the cost of follow-up care and check-ups. Just last week, we learned that this will be equally expensive. The cost is a question we are often asked, but unfortunately, we ourselves don’t know the answer yet. If only we did.

At the moment, none of the doctors has an exact figure, but we know that our health insurance certainly will not cover it. But thanks to the many donors and helpful people, we hope to be able to manage this as well. Still, the first step is Ilayda’s treatment in the US, so she can finally go back to leading a normal life.

Her strength and sheer will to live inspire me every day, and often bring me to tears. Despite everything, my wife and I are hopeful for a happy future.

Your donation will help save Ilayda’s life – donate now to the campaign trust account

Please help Ilayda.

Register yourself to get our April post about the 6 best monitoring tools we used for this crowdfunding campaign via email.

The authors declare that they had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry.

[su_box title=”Table 1: Creating a Foundation: Help Ilayda – The tear of an angel” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 700″ ]At the moment we are trying to decide whether we should start a non-profit foundation, and if so, how. A foundation would enable full tansparency of when and how the donated funds are used, which is extremely important to the family.

Here is a summary:

  1. The mission of the Foundation is the advancement of science, research, medical care, and youth aid, as well as the support of people whose physical, mental or spiritual situation requires help from others.
  1. Fulfillment of this mission will be achieved through eight specific areas of focus:
  • Public education regarding rare diseases and how we can help through conferences, publications, and lectures;
  • Support for research and development;
  • Education for children, youth, and adults dealing with illness regarding their situation;
  • Assistance with or complete assumption of treatment costs, including but not limited to travel, housing, follow-up care, and check-ups, as well as delayed costs such as care assistance, and education, which are not covered by public health schemes, insurance companies and / or public institutions;
  • Day-to-day assistance for affected parents and children, such as housekeeping assistance, childcare, transportation, physical maintenance, and stress management;
  • Safeguarding the livelihood of parents and children in order to maintain an adequate quality of life;
  • Supporting children of affected adult patients or siblings of affected juvenile patients through activity programs, field trips or individual gifts;
  • Sponsorhsip of projects, organisations, people or establishments (i.e. pediatric cancer wards), with a mission and vision that aligns with our own.

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How can you help?

We want this story to go viral and hope that through this crowdsourcing effort we can secure the funds needed to save Ilayda’s life, BUT after reading Ilayda’s blog entry, we need your help:

– What skills, talents, know-how, contacts can you offer to help save Ilayda’s life?

– Any other suggestions or ideas you have about the guidelines for our non-profit foundation?