On Monday, the annual entrepreneur-focused conference, FailCon, took place in San Francisco, to a near sold-out crowd. I was fortunate enough to attend a couple of panels, and two workshops, one of which left me with a spark of an idea (check out a design firm) the other which shed light on a much-opined and passionate interest of mine (customer satisfaction and how to achieve it). All in all, it was one of the best spent afternoons I have had in my conference-going days – on both sides of the table. (Trade show table, that is!)
Here are some key take aways for me, from the sessions I attended:
In Workshop with Solana Crawford of Design About Town: “Expand Your Brand (Without Fail)” – Solana and her team are behind such familiar brands as TechCrunch Disrupt, VSP and yes, the FailCon logo!
* She leads with: There are 3 things that matter in choosing or determining what your design should be: 1) audience, 2) context, and 3) content
* Branding is ultimately about communication … And, “the person on the other end!”
* Success in good brand design = a good user experience. Including:
- Good execution (of your business plan) – engagement – image – recognition (making a good impression)
* She kept coming back to something that is reminiscent of Dieter Rams’ work: Keep it simple! – Also, be clear about what makes you different from your competitors.
* She emphasized creating a “system” — using color, this could be a common thread that goes throughout all your assets: your website, twitter presence, your blog, and all print collateral.
* She listed 3 main steps to always include in your brand design planning:
1) Engagement: Tell a story; create a personality; build trust; and inspire to take action
2) Consistency: Use a consistent voice and message; and again, be consistent with color schemes
3) Recognition: Show good design; have a good promotional strategy.
In his workshop: “Show Your Customers You Care” – Evan Hamilton of UserVoice had these points to make:
* There are 3 options for gaining & sustaining users for your app/site: 1) Make it cheap to acquire; 2) Make more money off initial transaction; and 3) Make customers stick around longer to pay more in the long run. — Of these #3, he suggests, is the easiest.
* Always tell (broadcast, really) your customers what you’re doing to improve your site — while you’re doing it — this will increase their likelihood of sticking around, rather than leaving for a competitor.
* Some solutions to retaining customers and making sure they are happy?
1. Transparency: Tell people about how you’re needing to improve, even if they don’t notice it. “Uncovered issues can be ten times worse.”
2. Show you Care: Always post when, how, and where you are open to supporting them. Make it really, really easy to find your contact info.
3. Empathy: Take time to understand. (Especially for those who email in to complain/comment.) Realize that: “People who demand things, love your product.”
4. Scaling Contact: Set up automation, set up a forum, set up a ticket system. Anything you can to get your customer contact streamlined and avoid potentially ignoring customers.
From Joe Gebbia, Airbnb co-founder in his case study keynote: “How We Survived the Trough of Sorrow”:
* One notable point he led off with was: “A spectacular failure is always better than a mediocre success!” also:
* “Fail faster, so you can succeed sooner.” — (He borrowed this quote, but believes it to be true.)
* After telling the story of their very popular ‘Obama O’s’ & ‘Cap’n McCain’ cereals: Joe’s point was that – You have to be willing to do whatever you need to in order to stick to your idea. And that even if you’re not doing your business plan exactly the way you set out to, this did, for example, attract the attention of investors, (in their case Y Combinator). (after their ‘trough of sorrow’ lasting 18 months)
* Lastly, he emphasized: Solve your own problem and that way you will stick with it, because you believe in it.
Then, there was the panel: “The Failure of Business Models” moderated by Adriana Gardella of the New York Times. — But, that is a subject for another day’s post! Thanks to Cass Phillipps for putting on such a wonderful, information-rich event, that I am sure everyone who attended will likely return to next year if given the chance. And, if you were an attendee, yourself, and wish to share your best take away(s), please leave us a comment, below.
(Photos credit: FailCon)