Mid – 2015 – Check-Up 15 Ways To Tune-Up Your Business

Mid – 2015 – Check-Up  15 Ways To Tune-Up Your Business


marketing roadmap 3 used June 2015Mid-Year is when marketers should take a breather and spend a day on some fundamentals.  Stepping back can give you proactive insight and make your marketing plan far more important and useful.

Do a day of role playing “Today I am a customer of my own organization” and you might ask 5 friends or members of your team to do the same.  TIP: Choose a time at the end of that one day to come together and compare notes.  Don’t skip this step as it is where the value of this day comes together. Your compilation will provide a powerful look at what you need to know and what your boss or client might need to know too.

Here is a 15 question road map for maximizing this mid-year ritual:

1.  Are you easy to use? You won’t know until you try.  Try your own website without your auto-log in.  Is it easy?  Or a pain? Come in the front door and see if the door swings open easily, or whacks you on the shoulder.  What is the first thing you see when you enter a website or walk in the front door?  And so forth.

2. Do you offer self-service options for your customers? 

If you are in retail: Many customers want them today: unless you’re open 24/7 or at least all conceivable business hours in all time zones in which you have customers, you need such options. And even if you are open ‘round the clock, many times customers today just want to handle it, or at least be able to check up on it, themselves.

If you are a service business:  Think about a component you can do immediately, tell the client and then give a plan for the rest of the task. Do your self-service options include escape hatches? For when the self-service isn’t working or the customer isn’t in the mood–there should be an easy way out, to reach a human.  Make it obvious, like hitting “O” on the phone.

3. Do your customers have to ask you to answer questions for which the answer should be obvious? Customers don’t like to be burdened to contact you for items that could easily be provided for them on a self service basis.  Do your FAQ’s actually include the questions that customers want the answers to?  Or were they written six years ago by your web developer?  Do they get an auto-confirmation when they order or do they need to call to ensure their order wasn’t lost in the ether?  And so on.

4. Timeliness: Are you considerate of your customer’s time? This is a big, big, big one.  A perfect product or service delivered late is a defect.Commit to continuous customer service education.Education is an investment in your marketing success and in organizational development.Define a simple service recovery process. Things will go wrong. Either objectively (whatever that means) or in the eyes of your customer.  Either way, you need a plan.  What would you do right now if something went wrong to demonstrate your leadership and love of the customer?

5. Fight actively–every single day –against getting in a rut. The principle of hedonic adaptation means that your hundredth day on the job, naturally will not be as intense–as exciting, stressful, and so forth– as the first day.  This is good to some extent, but it means that you have to actively strive to remember that this same day is the first interaction your customer has had with your company, and you need to keep your attitude fresh to match theirs.

6. First impressions matter.Walk up to, and into, your establishment with the eye of a customer. A customer perception is his reality, and a first impression is important because it tends to linger in a customer’s memory. Ditto if that first interaction is on the phone, via chat, or via mobile. You know smiles can be felt online too right?

7. Impressions before the first impression matter. Of course, there is no “before the first impression.” But the first impression is very likely happening before you realize it: how you’re portrayed online, how your grounds look well before the front door.  Disney even obsesses over the route to their parks for this reason.

8. Last impressions matter.It’s so easy when you’ve “completed” an interaction with or project for a customer, to rush on to the next one with the next customer.  Doing so can erase all the goodwill you created.  The “goodbye” is an important stage, one of the most important, because (like a first impression) it tends to linger in a customer’s memory.

9. … But don’t think that’s why they’re working for you: Incentives for your customer-facing employees can’t replace the general value of hiring people who like people, and treating those people every single day like the professionals who they are.

12. Reward and Recognize.Acknowledge the contributions of individuals and teams with formal and informal recognition.

13. … But don’t think that’s why they’re working for you: Incentives for your customer-facing employees can’t replace the general value of hiring people who like people, and treating those people every single day like the professionals who they are.

14. Benchmark outside your industry.If you sell furniture, don’t just benchmark other players in the furniture industry to figure out how fast, easy to use, nice your company should be.  Your customers’ expectations for manners, timeliness, quality… come as much from Starbucks, Apple, and other great consumer brands as they do from the others in your particular field. This is where working with an agency has real power – on any one day I am talking to a theme park client, someone in real estate, a mall operator and a futurist – it all comes together every day.

15. Commit to continuous improvement. Ask yourself at the end of the day, “What is the thing I’m going to do tomorrow to make my team better?” Make this the last question you present to your team at the end of the check-up day too.marketing roadmap 2 also used June 2015

 P.S.  By taking the time to do a check-up you will go farther, be a better marketer, better leader and exemplify what it takes to think around corners.  Great job!



With big thanks to Micah Solomon as this blog began as an article from Micah Solomon, bestselling author most recently of High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service.

Surprising Words That Trip the E-mail Spam Alarm – Don’t Get Caught in the Trap


trap goes with spam trap blog 2015

Did you know the words “invoice”, “quote” or “urgent” can put you in spam traps?  

Since we know how hard it is to get out of these traps, here is a list of words and phrases to know now and avoid traps later.

Most words and phrases that get the spam alarm bells ringing are obvious: income, urgent, Viagra; as well as congratulations, discount, make money. Those are among the many in categories such as retail, personal, and pharmaceutical that legitimate marketers should avoid, according to research by MailJet.Trap chart of spam words June 2015

And some spam-tripping words and phrases may be surprising. For example, FedEx, Paypal, and Visa/Mastercard—certainly to the chagrin of those companies—can trip the spam alarm. Potentially challenging for universities that have gone beyond the traditional classroom is “online degree” as a phrase that may lead an email to be trapped as spam.

For those companies that sell to marketers, there are obvious losers, such as “email harvest” and “increase sales.” But, interestingly, there are also unlikely spam-alarm trippers, including “direct mail,” “lead generation,” and “search engine optimization.” Even “Internet marketing” and “marketing solutions” can sound the spam alarm.

“In sending over 12 billion emails…we’ve seen good senders land in the spam folder when accidentally using words heavily used by spammers,” says Anthony Marnell, Mailjet’s VP, North America. “We compiled a sample of words from these findings to help senders improve deliverability when crafting email copy.”

So, before you tell prospective customers that they can “sign up free today” for a “month trial offer” to test a “marketing solution” that will “increase traffic” or “increase sales,” or offer “congratulations” or a “discount” to customers, be sure to consider the likelihood that spam bells may ring.

This article, image and chart comes with thanks, from Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief Direct Marketing News.  DMNews.com is a great resource for marketers and I highly recommend you take a look at what they offer.

Thank you Ginger for bringing us this cautionary warning!


Excitement! Social Media! Why You Should Think Like A Millennial!


Note to my readers – this article came from BizBash.com one of my very favorite websites and they linked it from Small Business Trends – with appreciation to both of them.

selfieYou have a major event coming up. Either a conference, seminar, hosted panel discussion, reception for journalists at a major trade show, a community event – you get the idea. And you have done all your planning and preparations are solid. Now, what can you do to tip your event from successful to absolutely fabulous?

Think like a Millennial! Yes, that’s right…those social media savvy, online marketing and gamification powerhouses ushering in the next level of event promotion and awareness.

Millennials Know HashtagsHashtag
Millennials are trained to think in 140 characters or far, far less. They get to the heart of a topic – fast. They identify what’s the buzz, what’s hot and why people should take notice.

Millennials exercise this gift with hashtags that sport not only branding power but also social awareness. What better way to promote your event than to hashtag it like a champ?

Twitter provides an exceptional platform for creating and generating a social excitement around an event or activity. It builds community engagement with every tweet and retweet. Hashtags are the glue that holds endeavors together in a dynamic social landscape.

Develop entertaining or socially relevant hashtags that speak to the heart and soul of your event – and to the masses that you are targeting.

Millennials Never Give Up
Millennials are always trying new things. They are always experimenting, sharing and endorsing the latest and greatest. Let’s face it, they are trendsetters.

A Millennial will think nothing of exhausting all social media platforms when it comes to promoting a cause or sharing their expertise – or their dreams. So why should you?

Work a variety of social platforms to share your event – the build up of the event preparations, the goals of the event, special entertainers, important themes. Share on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. Work video content in the mix of your social shares to entice and engage all audiences.

Leave no social stone unturned when you promote your event. A Millennial sure wouldn’t – so why should you?

Millennials Love Selfies
Millennials love to share their selfies. Why? Well, they are young and beautiful. However, don’t sell these young marketing minds short. These kids are savvy personal branders. What is a selfie, but an affirmation of confidence.

So how do you selfie an event? Easy. Recruit participants in the event planning, event production and even the entertainment to selfie the event, share the event’s hashtags and show a social endorsement of the event in all its glory. Selfie before, during and after the event. Show off the event with confidence and the right creativity.

If a Millennial were at the helm of your event’s social promotion, it would be a selfie extravaganza. Don’t hesitate to master the selfie when it comes to marketing your event’s personality – and mission.

Millennials Get Excited
Whether it’s a social cause or the latest headlines, Millennials weigh in with observations, opinions and images. They are engaged people. They get excited – passionate.

Be like a Millennial and share your passion for your event with social engagement. Let your posts and shares convey a vibrant energy and glow about your event. If you are excited about your event, everyone else will get energized too.

You don’t have to tell a Millennial to get energized, that’s their natural state. Let that youthful energy and exuberance rub off on your social media approach to marketing, branding and promoting your event. Promote your event with energy and promote your event with passion.

Millennials Worship Images
Everyone loves images. One image can convey emotion, opportunity, excitement and even a philosophy of thought or action. Load your social media outreach with strong visuals and videos. Create memes, infographics, SlideShares and videos and leverage these visual vehicles to drive your event to success.

Millennials know pictures are worth a million tweets – are you getting the picture?

Feeling the Change?  3 Examples of the New Vision Changing The World


In just one 24 hour news cycle – 3 rather major announcements, one as part of a paid ad, hit me as what I’ll call the New Vision.global change 1

Trend watchers like Faith Popcorn predicted this day of accountability and action were coming… and from what I am seeing we are about to see true change and a parallel change in the global mindset.  Are you ready?  How can you join this new message trend and feel good about it too?

Let’s take a look at the 3 recent announcements and you’ll see how they come together in the New Vision.

According to the New York Times, Leonardo DiCaprio may be taking on his highest-impact leading role:  He has purchased an island in Belize that he is restoring –with a purpose to “heal” the island.  And while he is at it, teaching his soon-to-be-built resort guests how to think and act eco-conscious too.

Opening in 2018, “Blackadore Caye, a Restorative Island” will have a different mission.

Blackadore Caye has suffered from overfishing, an eroding coastline and the deforestation of its mangrove trees … says DiCaprio:  “The main focus is to do something that will change the world.  I couldn’t have gone to Belize and built on an island and done something like this, if it weren’t for the idea that it could be groundbreaking in the environmental movement.”

Remember that vision… “restorative”, “groundbreaking” and “change the world”

Next comes an ad from designer Eileen Fisher, the headline is ‘Vision 2020 – No Excuses’.  She had me at “vision”.  The images are models in her clothing designs but the copy below is powerful:  Our vision is for an industry where human rights and sustainability are not the effect… but the cause of a business well run.”

Her last line says:  “Where excuses are ignored and action is taken”.

Fisher’s vision includes these terms:  “sustainability” and “action”

The 3rd example is from an icon of my hometown of Cocoa Beach – surfer Kelly Slater and partners are launching a product line this Fall called Outerknown, a reference to the furthest reaches of our knowledge today.  The website is black and white, with powerful images and well-written copy, but just a few pages and a way to sign up to “follow our journey”.

Their vision includes the consumer, “transparency and global citizens” – for the purpose of discovering the next Outerknown.

Earth Day NYTIf you can find basis for weaving these visionary terms into your organization’s marketing let me suggest you do that soon – for any company that is truly out to change the world for the better should let their consumers know and join where they can.

This cycle of life is an awe-inspiring thing – learning of these 3 initiatives feels very much like the movement known as Earth Day which began April 22, 1970 – 45 years ago.  I remember it well since it was my birthday and my high school friends all pitched in to buy me a new spring green bicycle and it made front page news in our local newspaper.earth day April 22

I will watch DiCaprio , Fisher (www.EileenFisher.com) and Slater (www.outerknown.com) closely and report on their progress – what could be more relevant or important than being inclusive, groundbreaking and reaching beyond what is known today?  That’s a New Vision I am 100% behind.

Who Says Marketing To Youth Is The Way To Go? And the answer is …


180px-ABC_In_ColorIt turns out that in the early days of television in the 1940’s, when ABC came on the air, it was struggling to find its niche and to stand out against the other two networks; NBC and CBS. ABC’s initial research showed that as a new network, their audience was younger – so they convinced Nielsen’s research people to start breaking down the TV audience by age, instead of just all TV watchers at the time. ABC even came up with a new slogan “Get them young before some other brand gets them.” So began this myth that the most important audience is the age category that starts at age 18. Over the years we have been able to do a far better job of monitoring who is watching what and know not only who is watching advertising and programming, but if they are loyal product buyers.

The answer is “some are and some aren’t” – and that is true from ages 7 to 107!

180px-Abc1953So now we are at an interesting crossroads, some call this “Ageless Marketing” – which seems an apt title. All dollars spent to attract a customer should be spent on what a customer wants and needs, matched to the product or service being sold – not to some mythical supposition that only one age group counts! Do not fall into the trap of “all”. All people do not care about anything specific – most people care about value and honesty and integrity. Some people of all age groups care about the environment, great design, customer service and other key selling messages. The time tested brands know what they are about (Mercedes is about quality, Hallmark is about love, Campbell’s soup is about comfort, Patagonia is about enjoying and preserving the environment) – you know instinctively what these brands are about.200px-ABC_1943_logo_svg As you can see ABC has updated their logos multiple times over the years, and so it is also time for us to update our thinking. Marketers – ask yourself again – what does my product or service stand for? When you know that in your marketing gut, the rest will follow. It always does, always will.

Filling the Customer Funnel – Why Data Scientists Need You!


customer funnel 1 customer funnel 2 customer funnel 3 customer funnel 4





It’s called the customer funnel and PR and Marketing professionals work with sales to fill it– just one more valuable role you represent.

The economy is pivoting from being “all about the numbers” to what’s behind the numbers. It’s not about how full the funnel is as much as it is about the quality of the customers filling that funnel!

Does it matter if you have a zillion Facebook followers if none of them buy from you or ever will? And as those of us who manage social media well know – those followers demand our attention and time. If you give out samples of your new product and just a few of them return the coupon at their local store does it matter if there was a line for your freebie? What if you had an event and though you filled the venue the local sales figures never budged?

Now imagine in the scenarios above that you had half a zillion Facebook followers, but they all responded to your posts and purchased your product or service within 24 hours. Hmmm! Or your samples went to the ‘right’ customers who on their next visit to the drug or grocery store redeemed the coupon you gave them with the sample? And lastly if your event converted people from trial to buy – you would find yourself in high demand to do more events.

Here are two examples of how data is having a big time impact on sales and marketing:

A major real estate brokerage in New York is 80% tech and 20% sales and support. One real estate broker is in the field with a buyer – he no longer says “let me go back to the office and look for that” nor does he say “I’ll have more to look at tomorrow” – oh no. This guy is on a headset telling his tech team “she just added a balcony to what she wants” and before the potential buyer has finished looking at the kitchen the broker has two more nearby listings, with balconies, for her to see. The goal is to find this customer what she wants – today.

The Financial Times – Europe’s 127 year old powerhouse newspaper is bringing data scientists into its newsroom. This is about more than the news, it’s about full fledge engagement – and that includes the success of its advertisers and the special events and products that are becoming secondary sources of income for media organizations. FYI – engagement is someone who not only subscribes but visits the website 2 or more times a week and stays awhile.

So where do you come in? You are the person who asks the questions. Whether this is through hiring a research organization or informally asking specific questions through your mobile app, on social media, through your call in center or the people on the front lines – all of those questions and answers are data and they are the engines that make your sales and marketing run.

Reading sources of data about your customer types is beneficial too. Advertising departments at magazine do an excellent job of profiling their readers, this is often a great place to start and will lead you to the next resource. Consider starting a folder on your computer where you save this sort of information – open it quarterly and you’ll see the pieces come together.

Try this:  go to a smart blog like: https://blog.kissmetrics.com  and see what the end result should look like – I call this the “Z” of marketing.  Then work backward through your situation and you’ll tap into where you should begin.

It’s time for all of us to pivot – add ‘data scientist” to your thought process and plan and become the source for meaningful customer information. Nothing is more valuable to a boss, an owner or a client than having a person on their team who really knows the customer.