Friday, February 12, 2010

Why French Fries are Like Marketing

With a "thank you" to Mark Dykeman, Broadcasting Brain for his post today that reminded me of this chestnut of a post, OnlyOnce: Why French Fries are Like Marketing

It's true. It was true in 2004. It is even more true today. The choices are myriad. But, that doesn't mean you *have* to or even *should* do everything, be everywhere, all the time.

Choose what makes sense and what you know you will maintain. Think about *not* linking everything to everything, so all the same stuff goes out everywhere. Disconnect to connect more meaningfully. Think about which people go to get their information and tailor your content to suit. Offer up completely different content in different places and see what happens.

At least, that's what I'm going to experiment with as soon as I can figure out how to disconnect and undo, so I can do all over again, but differently, more thoughtfully, and hopefully, it will have more meaning and relevance.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A lesson in selling from David Ogilvy - see a genuine "Mad Man" in action | Drayton Bird's Commonsense Marketing

A new acquaintance recently pointed me to Drayton Bird's site and blog. I love his rather self-effacing, quirky, powerful approach to communicating and driving home a point without being left feeling like I've been the victim of a drive-by.

I've just watched this 2:02 minute video several times. Kind of ironic that it is 2:0or was it calculated to be 2:02? At any rage, David Ogilvy is still brilliant and so is Drayton Bird. Do yourself and your company a favor and spend 2:02 with Mr. Ogilvy.

A lesson in selling from David Ogilvy - see a genuine Mad Man in action | Drayton Bird's Commonsense Marketing

I look forward to your comment on this blog.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

O.P.S.

It's been far too long and I've been remiss in posting. I've been thinking a lot, working a lot. It's easy to save something to Draft and then, procrastinate on going back to finish a post and actually publish it.

I've resolved to take a page from Seth Godin's playbook and just post already, another iteration of shipping. I can only hope that what I have to share is a fraction as interesting as Seth's posts.

In my defense, I've had some programming issues as well as having to invest in a new Mac after the logic board on Old Faithful crapped out last week.

At any rate, are you still curious about that cryptic title?

Earlier this week I was at the monthly SFNewTech event and someone asked me what I do. I started to explain when we both started to laugh about how the same thing has gone through so many name changes over the years. As in so many other cases, every time a company pays a research company to compare their new offering to their competitors' and write up a white paper, part of the deal is to come up with a new description and the associated clever acronym for this revolutionary "solution." Hence, what was once called an ASP (application service provider), Web-based, SaaS (Software as a Service), that is now "in the cloud," is all the same thing more or less.

So, okay, you're thinking, I know that already, but what the heck does that have to do with OPS?

Well, back in the 80's, Wall Street talked about never using your own money, always using OPM or, Other People's Money. So, I've always referred to the application we offer, PrivateLabel Mail/Venntive uses OPS or, Other People's Servers.

It's my own acronym that really describes why we all love remotely hosted applications. Because, you see, when you use Other People's Servers, it's their responsibility to maintain them and make sure they are always up. It's their personnel, their hardware investment, their headaches. And, what do you get? Isn't it kind of like renting versus owning a house? Uh, yeah. And, as we've learned, that is not a bad thing!

So, power to OPS!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Did You Know?

It's that time of year where we naturally look back and look forward, if not nearly simultaneously, surely in rapid succession. What happened? What's ahead?

A visit away from my rarified little world of technology here in San Francisco is always a trigger for reminders or, as family and friends might say, a reality check.

I really appreciate the opportunity to see how people in the "real world" are using or not using the technology that may already feel like old hat to us bleeding edge early adopters. It's even more interesting to listen to their reasons for their choices.

Being immersed in the technology environment is special. Keeping up, regardless of whether you are early or late to the table, is quite another. By way of offering some perspective, here's a great video that graphically illustrates our challenges and opportunities. Keep in mind that it is already over a year old....





Friday, September 25, 2009

Logic Emotion: How To Spot Social Media Snake Oil

Dave Armano's short list in Logic Emotion: How To Spot Social Media Snake Oil should be committed to memory. It should also be used as a guideline in any other situation that has seemed to miraculously spawned an abundance of "experts" and "gurus" who were doing something completely different last week.

Oh, by the way, over here at PLI, we've been studying market demographics and psychographics since 1990 and from 1995, actively engaged in online marketing, business development, project management, community building, writing and editing, developing and executing online-offline marketing strategy, and implementing SaaS business technology.

Give us a call. Drop us an email. Let's talk.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Dirty Vendor Tricks | Applications

This InfoWorld article, Dirty vendor tricks | Applications, is required reading.period.

I can say, without hesitation, that I have never engaged in any of these practices. I did recognize one or two nameless vendors, e.g. the $400 per license CRM software vendor. I can also attest that these are far too common practices. I've been on the receiving end and it's cost me north of $10,000 in one instance.

Be wary when there seems to be a lot of churn in personnel. There will be a parallel churn in customer not renewing.

Don't be afraid to ask the same question several times of the same person and/or different people to make sure you always get the same answer and/or greater clarification.

And, I hope you will ask us all your questions because I think you'll hear what you want to hear - the truth about a great application that includes enterprise level email marketing tools plus all the CRM tools that people actually use and need without any over-complication.

There's been abit of a hiatus. I have a lot of saved articles, ideas that will be published regularly. Just be prepared to scroll down to find them Psst! I'll tell you where to look!

Dirty Vendor Tricks | Applications

This InfoWorld article, Dirty vendor tricks | Applications, is required reading.period.

I can say, without hesitation, that I have never engaged in any of these practices. I did recognize one or two nameless vendors, e.g. the $400 per license CRM software vendor. I can also attest that these are far too common practices. I've been on the receiving end and it's cost me north of $10,000 in one instance.

Be wary when there seems to be a lot of churn in personnel. There will be a parallel churn in customer not renewing.

Don't be afraid to ask the same question several times of the same person and/or different people to make sure you always get the same answer and/or greater clarification.

And, I hope you will ask us all your questions because I think you'll hear what you want to hear - the truth about a great application that includes enterprise level email marketing tools plus all the CRM tools that people actually use and need without any over-complication.

There's been abit of a hiatus. I have a lot of saved articles, ideas that will be published regularly. Just be prepared to scroll down to find them Psst! I'll tell you where to look!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Customer Is Always Right?

It's really fascinating to me how the same sentiment can be independently expressed by several people at virtually the same time across different online and offline media that I follow.

The current thread could be the leading edge of a shift in attitudes toward "the customer."

Last night I caught an update on Facebook remarking that it's not just the customer who deserves a "thank you." It was postulated that vendors deserve more than just paying their invoices when they deliver. Good vendors work very hard to deliver a positive experience, even when it doesn't show.

Then, this morning a newsletter in my inbox talked about the benefits of pissing off some customers to gain more customers. In the example given in Shamus Brown's Egopower, Murky Coffee in Arlington, VA reused to sell an iced espresso and then, objected when the customer bought an espresso and a cup of ice to make his own. The annoyed "former" customer blogged about it. The story was picked up by the Washington Post. And, Murky Coffee which takes its coffee very seriously and refuses to compromise attracted a whole new slew of customers who share the same attitude.

So, is the customer always right?

When you started your company, you had a vision, a mission, and a commitment to deliver a product and/or service that is unique, that fills a gap. You landed accounts because those people wanted to buy what you were selling. As time went by and perhaps we found ourselves in a challenging time, a customer here and there asked for changes or exceptions or worse, delivered an ultimatum that could end up fundamentally compromising what is being delivered. Or, we start second-guessing ourselves and thinking, "Well, maybe if we did things like our competitors, then we'll be more successful."

I believe you have to have the courage of your convictions and that the clients who count will appreciate that and you.

A big part of working for yourself is being able to call the shots and do something better than everybody else. As the saying goes, "have fun and make money, not necessarily in that order". Sometimes, you have to fire a customer to do that.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Company Policy vs. Customer Service

How many times have you had a CSR (Customer Service Rep) of whatever level (since we are *all* representing our companies and providing service in some manner, right? Right.) tell you they can't do what you're asking because it goes against company policy?

What is "Company Policy" anyway? They are the ground rules every company had laid down/developed to provide a framework for building the company, a reference for employees to use for any given situation.

"No, we cannot close your account at the end of this month. Company policy requires a full 30 days notice. So, we'll close your account at the end of next month."

That's what she said, several times.

We've all heard the expression, "Rules are made to be broken." Well, no, not actually. But, as Christine Comaford pointed out at her "Rules for Renegades" weekend last summer, "Rules can be broken."

In the end, when the manager called me back after I'd happen to mention that I blog about the customer service experience, not only did she agree to close my account at the end of this month, but to also credit my credit card for the $86 for a service that was not delivered in the way it was sold and promised. Can't tell you how many times I was turned down on that one over the last 18+ months in the name of corporate policy dictated by the suits in New York!

I'd like to think it was something I said that made the difference. Simply, corporate policy should not get in the way of delivering great customer service.

Don't get scared. There's not going to be anarchy. Not everyone is going to be as insistent as I or even consider bucking the clearly published corporate policy. But, when you do have a customer or soon-to-be-former customer insisting on an exception, seriously consider making the exception. Tell them that you are making a special exception for them, that you appreciate their business. Ask them how else you may be of service to them. And, even if you're on the phone or writing an email, do it with a genuine smile on your face.

It all makes a huge difference...now and later, for your company and for you as a person. You'll enjoy your weekend that much more.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Creating Sustainable Conversations Is the Key To Social Media Success

In this short article, Creating Sustainable Conversations Is the Key To Social Media Success, Freddie Laker has hit the nail on the head about the key to social media success. Turns out it's still the same thing that builds great brand awareness.

I probably spend way too much time on Twitter and Facebook these days and when I'm not actively engaged, I'm thinking about them and these apps' profound impact on millions of people.

Today's poster child for huge success is the Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos who's not only built a hugely successful company with great employees (because the crappy employees are paid to leave, literally), but leveraged Twitter to make himself and his company uber-accessible and has a lot of fun along the way talking about whatever's on his mind at the moment, e.g. "Calling a children's word game "hangman" just seems plain wrong. They should invent a more humane game, like "lethal injection"." He made himself ultimately accessible, reflected the culture of the company he's building, and he's real.

And, in the best MasterCard tradition, Zappos is being bought by Amazon for a mix of cash and stock valued at $800,000,000.00 and management remains intact.

Tony and all of the Zappos team have created a sustainable conversation that has contributed to their success.

On the flip side are all those instant internet marketing gurus.... As far as creating a sustainable conversation that goes toward building something of consequence, I'd say they're a big FAIL.

Comments?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Endurance

I thought I needed more of a title than just that one word, but anyone who has any familiarity with all the word Endurance embodies knows that just that word is sufficient.

Several years ago I organized a book group as an offshoot of the New York Company of Friends (Fast Company and Heath Row's great social experiment) and we decided we would alternately read business and 20th Century fiction. The first book was "Endurance, Shackleton's Incredible Voyage" by Alfred Lansing. This is one of the best business books I've ever read. Everything about Shackleton's Voyage was against all odds. Not only did he endure, but prevailed with grace.

So, fast forward to a few weeks ago when I went to the single screening of Stephen Auerbach's "Bicycle Dreams, The Race Across America" that follows several solo racers in their quest to win RAAM, 3,000+ miles in about 10 days combined with a lot of suffereing, not only by the riders, but also by their crews.

This morning after getting back home from a 6:30 a.m. tri spin class that left my legs feeling very noodle-y from the full-out intervals, I came across Mike Dion's Ride The Divide via a Twitter connection. I've heard of the race down the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. After watching the teasers, I can't wait to see the film. It ranks right up there with the earlier feats of endurance as something that just leaves me in awe in the true sense of the word, not as in the current "this burrito is awesome" sense.

So, all this rekindled what's always in the back of my mind ~ what goes into making a successful venture, a successful entrepreneur, a success of pretty much any effort?

Endurance.

Along with the firm conviction that what you are doing is on the money, a large part of success is enduring through all the challenges thrown at you to prevail to the point where you get to say or, at least, think, "I told you so!"

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Question Is "Why am I here?"

Seth Godin's blog post this morning zeroes in on a less than metaphysical, but no less important approach to the seminal question, "Why am I here?".

I know there are a lot of people out there who attend conferences, business expos, lunches, networking events on the "Because I can" principle. The company's paying for it. I'll see friends from other companies. I need to be seen there. It'll boost my ego to be recognized. It'll get me out of the office or away from my desk. It's just a few hours. It's free or doesn't cost much. I'm sure I'll pick up something new or make some new business connections. On and on.

So, you go.

I am no longer surprised that at every event I do attend where people are invited to introduce themselves, not only do they not have a concise, interesting introduction about themselves and their company, they don't bother to stand, don't speak clearly or loudly enough for people to hear them. Are they ashamed or embarrassed by what they do? Are they devaluing what they do and consequently, don't think anyone will find value in it? Or, do they just not view themselves as a knowledgeable, valuable resource to others? What?

It is your job to promote your company and yourself as an authority representing that company. Speak up! Be proud of what you do! Screw up your courage and just do it! Otherwise, don't go or send someone else who can do the job.

After all these years, I still break out in a sweat in anticipation, but I will always take advantage of every opportunity to let people know who I am and what I do. I'll be the first to volunteer to be the guinea pig up on stage. I'll always stand to introduce myself regardless of whether anyone else does or not. I will always speak in a clear, confident voice that carries to the whole crowd. And, I will always seek to have to clearest, most concise, tailored introduction to my business that is possible.

Have fun, but as Seth says, "...do something. Loud, now, and memorable."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Solution for the Financial Debacle in Dilbert's World

Since we are yet to see the real fallout and impact from the commercial real estate market, I thought I'd offer this bit of gallows humor. Seems MBAs may have taken over the place of attorneys on the Most Hated Lists.
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Friday, April 03, 2009

Relating to your Mailing List vs your Facebook Network of Friends - Bourland.com

I guess I've been living under a rock lately as I missed the sad news of Andy Bourland's passing. Andy was just a great person who also happened to be one of the founders of ClickZ, along with Ann Handley. So, today when I had a little time after Web2.0 Expo and before Startup Weekend, I decided to go down memory lane a little as my personal service to remember Andy.

After reading the last posts to his blog, Bourland.com by his older brother and his wife, Jeanne, I tiptoes through many of his past posts that reminded me of his wonderful, humanistic approach to the InterWeb.

True to form are his observations in Relating to your Mailing List vs your Facebook Network of Friends - Bourland.com. Do yourself a favor and take the approximately 5.5 minutes to watch Andy speak with joy and wonder about what Facebook meant to him.

I started thinking about how the vast majority of us haven't begun to leverage the great tools of Facebook to have a more real, meaningful, and substantive relationship with our network of colleagues, clients, customers, and professional friends in our many networks. So many of us kind of get caught up in amassing followers, connections and then, neglecting to build on that in a real way. Others seem to use Facebook and other social media outlets as a public address system to make one breathless announcement after another. The first is directionless, the second is uni-directional. Both are completely counter-intuitive to how the Web2.0 experience was envisioned. Why are we using all these new tools in all the old ways?

One resolution I have made is to use it to connect more directly with those who are my customers. I just hope they want to connect with me! I will keep you posted on how I plan to go about accomplishing this.

I would really love to learn your thoughts about this.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

VitaminWater Launches Primetime Facebook Promotion

VitaminWater Launches Primetime Facebook Promotion during the NCAA Tournament coverage on CBS tonight. This could be considered a watershed event and a huge endorsement of the new Facebook public profile redesign.

This conjures a real "remember when" recollection of the commercials on TV where companies first displayed their Website addresses and the voiceover was very careful to enunciate the entire URL, including 'back slash, back slash.'

With Jason Calacanis challenging Twitter with new offer to Twitter: $500,000 for three years for @questions as a suggested user in the sign-up process, it's becoming a very interesting and exciting time. Never can tell what might happen next!

Stay tuned!

I love online marketing in all its permutations!