Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Are you cool?

Posted by Becky Carroll on May 7, 2007

sunglasses.jpgPeter Kim posted this past week about the idea of Chasing Cool.  He references a book by that name written by two very smart businessmen, Noah Kerner and Gene Pressman.  Peter says this about his own experiences with companies trying to “chase cool”:

I’ve been lucky enough to see cool from two perspectives, working at two brands in the footwear industry on opposite sides of the fence.  One was cool.  The other was chasing it desperately.  The problem with the latter is captured perfectly in the quote above the image at left.  The secret of the former was its authenticity.

I agree with Peter that authenticity in a brand and in its employees is very cool.  Customers can always smell when you aren’t being authentic (like in another one of Peter’s posts on J.P. Morgan Chase and Co and doing what’s wrong for the customer).

What really makes a company cool?  Flashy advertising?  Customer-generated commercials?  The use of social media?  A strong youth following of a consumer product?

In my opinion, what makes a company cool is when it delivers what its customers are looking for.  Companies that are highly in-tune with their customers build great two-way relationships with them over time.  Customers start to share how cool that company is because it treats them the way they want to be treated.  They are “customers rock!” companies.

Think about companies that are “cool”.  Apple with its iPod is cool not because they have a strong following of the young and young-at-heart.  Apple made it easy, really easy for customers to download their music.

What do your customers want to do with your products and services?  Are you meeting their needs?  If you don’t know your customers well enough to answer that question, then all the social media in the world isn’t going to make you cool.  You most likely will fall into that “uncool” category when you can’t be authentic because you don’t know your customers.  Start the customer conversation, get to know them and their needs, and be on your way to cool!

8 Responses to “Are you cool?”

  1. Great post Becky. The truly cool companies are the ones who actually care about the means, rather than just the end. They realize that becoming cool is product of many actions taken along the way (i.e. Apple and easy downloading).

    One example of a company trying too hard to be cool is McDonald’s with its “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign. The ads make it seem as though McDonald’s is hip, and the only way you’ll be hip is if you eat their food. It just doesn’t work.

    The bottom line is this: You can’t tell people you’re cool. Once you actually ARE cool, people will label you accordingly.

    And for the record, I would strongly argue against the coolness of Luke. But that’s just me…

  2. Thanks, Ryan. Great example about McDonald’s. A lot of companies are trying too hard to be hip!

  3. Becky,

    I agree with Ryan: We are either cool or we aren’t. My proof: One would think playing in a rock ‘n roll band guarantees cool. Having traveled with a band and having the priviledge of watching hundreds of bands and meeting hundreds of musicians, I can tell you that they are no different than the rest of us: Some are cool but most are chasing after their perception of cool.

  4. Thanks for your proof, Lewis! I think the other issue with “cool” is this – it is defined differently by different people. What I might think is cool you might not!

    Rather than chasing cool, I believe companies should spend their resources getting to know their customers. If the customer is understood with expectations being met, companies can then consider how to go “above and beyond”, which may move them towards cool.

  5. Ashley Michael said

    I have actually read Chasing Cool; the book is about how companies are on the everlasting hunt to make their products ‘cool,’ because, of course, ‘cool’ sells. However the book focuses on how artificial methods of trying to make a product cool, such as hiring young ‘cool hunters’ will never work. The text stress how important originality and independence of thought are when it comes to attempting to raise a product’s sales. All and all I felt Chasing Cool had some interesting insight, especially for young people getting ready to enter the marketing world after college. On top of how fascinating and thought provoking the volume was from a marketing point of view, it was also an entertaining piece to read. Chasing Cool is co-written by Gene Pressman, the grandson of the founder of Barney’s New York, Gene has sprinkled the text with little anecdotes and personal examples about the brand building process he and his family went through to erect Barney’s New York as the fashion icon it is today. I really enjoyed reading the book.

  6. Stephanie said

    I loved the book! It kept me entertained throughout the whole thing. Hearing individual examples from nightclubs, Barneys, Airlines, etc. was an excellent way to give advice to entrepreneurs on how to stand out. I especially liked the excerpts about Barneys. Before reading Chasing Cool I never really knew the history behind Barneys being a discount store. I found the story behind bringing high-end brands such as Versace and Prada to the United States to be very motivating. This is an excellent example of how following your instincts and going where no one has gone before can prove to be very rewarding. This book will definitely be a reference point for me as I enter the workforce and attempt to stand out myself in today’s marketplace.”

  7. Andrew Thrasher said

    This is a great book; I have read it and already applied some of the things I’ve learned from it to my personal and business life. I’d highly recommend anyone and everyone to read it. One of my favorite aspects of the book was the chapter that talks about “growing your pond”, it’s an idea I had never really thought about or heard before. It’s very interesting that Grey Goose has such a premium image, and the majority of young people consider it the #1 in vodka. I enjoyed the story of the blind taste test and how Grey Goose was in fact not the #1, but yet it still sold as if it were….It’s amazing at how good marketing can persuade the buyers.

  8. Kelly said

    I loved this book. I think what I loved best was the vast range of knowledge and advice the book had to offer for future market-ers. There’s no other book out there that offers stories of singers, designers, CEOs, etc. And the face that everyone told their own unique story, but that every different story had a similar(SUCCESSFUL!) outcome was great. It’s one of those real “think outside the box” books, but not in a corny way, in a true to life way.

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