Thursday, August 14, 2008

Last Looks Before Getting Back on the 101

Speaking of road trips, here's a great quote from a favorite

Drew Baylor: "Because we have a moment here, let me tell you that I have recently become a secret connoisseur of 'last looks'. You know the way people look at you when they believe it's for the last time? I've started collecting these looks."Elizabethtown (2005)

As a marketer and an analyst, I also wanted to collect 'last looks.' What I started capturing was the absence of them.

So I started looking for the 'void' or 'what's missing.' Let me explain…Writting a blog about screwing-up and owning up to it

After losing or failing, I have a habit of looking back to where it all goes wrong. Seemingly, the easiest thing to do is to in a bad situation is to avoid looking at the other person and having that gut-wrenching uncomfortable conversation. It's hard to feel naked, look them in the eye and be brutally honest.

Here's one where I wouldn't look someone in the eye:

We got the bill from a top-notch contractor. Due to external factors, we reduced his payment below what I considered conscionably acceptable. Rather than telling him what we were doing, it seemed easier to just send him a payment at a lower amount and tell him "the check is in the mail."

I should've dealt with the situation head-on. Instead, a storm brewed and both the contractor and my business partner looked to me to mediate the situation. Once I got both their emails, the first thing I did was to shut down my Microsoft Outlook® and turn off my Instant Messenger.

I know – spineless…

10 minutes later, I got back on my laptop and wrote each of them an 'I screwed-up' email and fixed the matter at my expense.

Here's one where the tables are turned:

Over dinner with a client and his wife, somehow we got chummy and into a very casual conversation of the various characters on our respectively large families. I brought up one of my family members who made his wealth at the expense of others and asked my client, "Do you have anybody like that in your family?"

Here is what I captured… His wife looked right at him, said "yes," and my client looked down at his food.

3 months later our contract turned sour. Fortunately, we were both strong enough to have honest conversations about what we could each give moving forward.

So what:

So now when I go to a restaurant that gives me bad service, I no longer look for the candy dish, walk out and bad-mouth it. I look at the person who asks me, "how was everything?" and I give them an honest assessment.

Next time, I get that downward look… well, I can give you bravado, but I really don't know what I will do. What have you done?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Listening to Wife and Customers = Marketing Gold

Maybe it's that today's my birthday or just that the planets are aligned just right, but for some odd reason I was actively listening to my wife going off about Santa Barbara hair salons.

This morning, she brought up her quest for a short-hair specialist when we first moved here to Santa Barbara. She talked about how fashion magazines write that if you have short hair you should ask for a short-hair specialist.

When she called around town the salon receptionists invariably told her, "All of our people cut short hair, would you like to make an appointment?"

So she did…

The first time the results were atrocious. The second time the results were so poor that she threatened to drive to San Francisco to someone she trusted. It took a resort concierge who finally told her not only the salon, but the specific person who should cut her hair.

Fast forward to 7 years later – and here is how things worked out in the end:

  • The first salon that didn't really pay attention to my wife's requests is out of business
  • The second is hobbling along
  • The third salon opened up a second location 3 years ago
  • The person who specializes in short hair opened up RiverBlue Salon in Montecito and I manage his Pay-Per-Click (PPC) online advertising campaign.

And here's how listening to my wife has turned into gold – just today I added the term 'short hair specialist' to RiverBlue Salon's PPC campaign. PPC experts know that long-tail keywords such as these are the ones that are most likely to yield high click-through-rates and most importantly customers.

Who are you listening to for your marketing advice? Let us know…

Listening to Wife and Customers = Marketing Gold

Maybe it's that today's my birthday or just that the planets are aligned just right, but for some odd reason I was actively listening to my wife going off about Santa Barbara hair salons.

This morning, she brought up her quest for a short-hair specialist when we first moved here to Santa Barbara. She talked about how fashion magazines write that if you have short hair you should ask for a short-hair specialist.

When she called around town the salon receptionists invariably told her, "All of our people cut short hair, would you like to make an appointment?"

So she did…

The first time the results were atrocious. The second time the results were so poor that she threatened to drive to San Francisco to someone she trusted. It took a resort concierge who finally told her not only the salon, but the specific person who should cut her hair.

Fast forward to 7 years later – and here is how things worked out in the end:

The first salon that didn't really pay attention to my wife's requests is out of business

The second is hobbling along

The third salon opened up a second location 3 years ago

The person who specializes in short hair opened up RiverBlue Salon in Montecito and I manage his Pay-Per-Click (PPC) online advertising campaign.

And here's how listening to my wife has turned into gold – just today I added the term 'short hair specialist' to RiverBlue Salon's PPC campaign. PPC experts know that long-tail keywords such as these are the ones that are most likely to yield high click-through-rates and most importantly customers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Kick-ass PPC marketing

I'm embarrassed to say this…

Today is the first time that a prospective client has ever asked me to put down on paper a basic outline of how I run successful PPC campaigns. I wonder how many of my cohorts from the SMX and SES crowd on over to affiliate marketers have ever run this exercise.

So here's what I wrote:

Basis for a successful CPC/PPA online marketing program:

  1. Keep it simple: Keywords, Ad Copy, Landing Page & Funnel Performance
  2. Understand the industry
  3. Actively listen to the account manager / client / audience
  4. Buy into the clients goals
  5. Spend at least 10 minutes a day on any given account
  6. Have the fortitude to admit and act on poor performing campaigns
  7. Benchmark off of competitive intelligence
  8. Build on performing long-tail terms
  9. Provide KPI-based actionable reporting
  10. Test, test & test again

I'd love your feedback and input and see if we can come up with a stronger statement.

Cheers,
Marcel

Monday, August 11, 2008

Marketing Selfish Behavior

Following SES San Jose, I am invited to join a prestigious overseas event.

The event is scheduled to start on Thursday evening with many of us arriving Wednesday to work-out the 10 hour jet-lag. With our early arrival, our host has opted to schedule additional events on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. None of the event speakers were consulted.

Huh?

With an event-focus rather than a people-focus, the host created a selfish environment where some of the brightest speakers have dug in their heels to make additional demands.

The problem with this add-on strategy is that it makes it difficult to create a 'buy-in' environment.

  • Conference attendees are likely to remember jet-lagged speakers and a tired atmosphere.
  • Un-consulted speakers are more likely to ask 'What's in it for me?'
  • And speakers & attendees alike are less likely to espouse the value of the event.

How do you measure the cost?

How do you measure the slow erosion of the event in follow-up years?

Well, American Olympic organizers seem to get it

After a decade of decline in the international arena, the improvement of the American sport program is noticeable…

As I watch the 2008 Beijing Olympics, I see American Olympic organizers who got the athletes to buy-in with the 1-week Singapore training camp prior to the Beijing Olympics. I postulate that as a partial result of this:

  • There are no stand-outs in the men's basketball team of superstars – yet they're winning.
  • The American women's gymnastics team is bonding through injury and disappointment and winning.
  • In swimming, the American men's 4X100 freestyle relay team responded to the French world record holder's trash-talking with a world record smashing swim.
  • And take note that while NBC's Bob Costas builds-up the Michael Phelps chase for Olympic glory, the athletes themselves are speaking of the team and the events.

Here's my advice: Plan marketing success and leave the plans with your executive committee. Buy into your team members and presenters as much as they have bought into you. Customers will follow.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lasswell's model and online social media

This is the 60th anniversary of "Lasswell's Model" in which Harold Lasswell coined the verbal model that identifies the key elements in any instance of human communication: "Who, say what, to whom, in which channel, with what effect?"

A lot of us small business owners are coming to grips with social media efforts through the myriad of online channels. To this end, we're running a joint effort to build what we're hoping will become a free and comprehensive resource by month's end.

Please help us identify the social media channels that work for you...

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pAcXRihlNQ6_jBn_3BalnJA

P.S. Feel free to download the free information already on the spreadsheet!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Marketing Ten

  1. Listen to your clients. Many business heads are too busy telling their customer what they feel like saying. Recently, a VP for a local business firm, spent the first 5 minutes of a teleconference telling a Canadian client about how he was recovering from the volunteer church fundraiser he chaired the previous weekend. That was the last conversation the business firm had with the Canadian company.

    Listen to what is important to the customer - a joint venture, current project, an investment, or their daughter. I’ve listened to one-too-many marketing managers and heads of business development talk about what's interesting and important to them. And keep in mind, because your client’s kid is important to them, it doesn’t mean that they give a damn about yours.

  2. Respect to your customer. The guy with the purchasing power is ALWAYS serious. Do not make fun of or belittle them or their choices -- even after -- you actually see the color of his money.

    Recently, in bidding for a state agency project, a computer consultant belittled a former partnering firm with whom the perspective client had worked for 10 years. More so, he sent correspondence to devaluate the data the agency was currently using in their analysis. Besides letting the client know that his firm was the engine behind the prior contract, the consultant, turned down an offer to bid on the contract with the former partner. Needless to say, the state agency offered the contract to the former partner. In turn, the partner-turned-competitor found a less expensive software solution to replace the computer consultant.

    In other words, think twice before using your wit to mock and/or criticize choices and opinions. It’s your client’s patronage that keeps your business afloat. Your client is working to determine if you are the expert for them, and not just a know-it-all. They want to be sucked up to – they even want to be pampered. Remember, their buying decision may not be about you or the other guy – It might be about you or what they can get for a better value.

  3. Accommodate your clients … especially on large contracts. As an independent contractor who is selling a house payment worth of services with a buyer hesitant because of unsettled market conditions, bend backwards. Show them how you will bend on the standard contract because you want their business. They will remember this when it comes time to renew their services.

    5 years ago my wife & I incurred $600+ Verizon phone bill that during a trip abroad and a subsequent cross county move. When I called Verizon to request mediation, the service agent took off $300. As a result, we continue to value Verizon’s services.

    As a business owner, make sure you do not tell them it's your way or the (competitor, down the) highway. Because you have your standards, they may find that the standards of your competitor down the road are good enough to refer to their friends and family.

  4. Put your personal life ahead of your customers AFTER business hours. During working hours, your client needs to feel the way your wife felt on her wedding day (I hope). Make sure that the client feels like you will drop everything to meet their needs. Consider staying a minute later to close the sale and leave a minute earlier on slower day. If you have a manicure appointment or sailing race during the busiest time of day, reconsider the services you offer - the clients coming through the door today, will go elsewhere tomorrow. If you respect your customers during their time of need, you will find that they will value you when you need them most.

  5. Know your product. If your customer asks about your product, the best answer is a solid answer, preferably said in the most tone assured possible.

    If you don't know something your client asks about, tell him that you will look it up or if you are less than willing to provide the service, refer them to your competitor. The client will always appreciate the honesty.

  6. Closing the deal. Have the paperwork ready. Do not “dilly dally” with idle socialization during this point of the negotiation. Remember to dot your “I”s and cross your “T”s on all parts of the contracts. At this point your client wants his goods/services yesterday. The more you make him wait today the less likely he is to return tomorrow.

  7. Be honest about your product. Because in the end, “You have to sell everything twice. The first time when you actually make the sale, the second time when you assuage the customer’s buyer’s remorse.”

    Buyer’s remorse is a natural human reaction to many purchases. Anticipate it and nip it in the bud.
    If you are honest about your product, you will more easily handle the post-purchase doubts. Soon after a sale, (online or face-to-face) communicate with customers – especially, if you think they might have second thoughts. Start by telling your client how good you feel about their purchase of the product. Reassure them that the product is just what they wanted. Review with them how it fills their need, how it's fits their current need in every way. Pick out a feature that originally perked their interest, such as the ROI they will get from their purchase, and remind them about how that's what they had really wanted in the first place.

    Buyer's remorse is an emotion, not a logical thought process. All your comments have to be directed toward reassuring them about their decision.

  8. Look professional, be professional. Cigarette and coffee breath, wrinkled clothes, mountains of documentation and incomplete data. We’ve all dealt with or have been that person on a bad day. Keep in mind – It’s ALWAYS showtime!

  9. Close the deal. Never…Ever… walk away and let the customer sit. Go back to them – they will not come crawling to you. Use your mix of communications tools (drinks at a bar, phone call, email, fax, website, product white papers, etc.) and understand how they respond best.

    Answer his questions -- he may need more information about your products or services. Though perfectly acceptable to letting your prospective clients know the price of your product, let him or her tell you how they wants to pay for it. Do not tell him. You can ask for the sale, don’t for goodness sake – do not scare your client with seemingly inflexible payment terms.

  10. Qualify your customers. Find out if they can afford your services. You can do this very discreetly watching and listening. If your clients brand new Mercedes S-Class has not been washed in months, proceed with care. If the 50 year-old lady in blue jeans and Crocs, asks about your services, think twice before dismissing them.

    Learn to listen and listen by looking. Especially, before you present your standard pitch.