Marketing Musings (Archived Blogs)

What are DeepTarget's Marketing Musings?

From 2010-2018 the DeepTarget team wrote over 100 blog posts covering a variety of marketing topics. These blogs take a brief and human perspective into different aspects of marketing, which we've named "Marketing Musings". We have since combined these blog posts into a single archive.

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Marketing Musings 2016-2020 (ARCHIVE)

OCTOBER 28, 2020

Holiday Campaigns Made Simple with DXP

With sweater weather in full swing, our superstar digital marketers are kicking their targeted holiday campaigns into high gear. With the ever-rising number of digital touch points to consider, the need for consistency combined with relevance across all digital platforms can create challenges for the modern marketer. Financial institutions need to put the customer experience first as they try to reach varying audiences across varying digital channels. The right Digital Experience Platform (DXP) can meet this need by delivering relevant, consistent communications across all digital channels to customers and members, which is especially helpful during the holiday season.

Customers of today expect optimal digital experiences that are unified across every touchpoint like those delivered by Netflix and Amazon. But what about financial institutions? The fact is that if community banks and credit unions are not focused on engaging their banking consumers in a similar manner, there are several upstarts and newer Fintechs like Rocket Mortgage, PayPal andVenmo who are.  That’s an incredible loss of precious wallet share.

Digital marketing superstars are investing in a DXP which can deliver AI-powered financial stories.  These stories apply to all digital channels and are smart, individualized, and relevant. These stories are ready to engage the banking consumer without seeming invasive or annoying. This balance is achieved by the AI's awareness of how the consumer is engaging so that future stories get even smarter.  And, even more impressive, DXP is scalable meaning that thousands of communications are being delivered at any given moment.  

It comes down to this: Either a financial institution has no idea about their consumers or they do. Those that have taken the time to really “know” individual account holders is evidenced by how they communicate to them across every digital touchpoint. FIs that are ready for this level of relevant communication will invest in a DXP experience, letting an integrated software solution enhance the customer experience with a click.

Just a simple look around demonstrates that expectations of digital customers are high. And these expectations will continue to evolve as the digital landscape changes.  DXP orchestrates data-powered campaigns that you can Design Once, Engage Everywhere(TM) to ensure that the right campaigns and stories reach the right customers at the right time… every time.  Retain and cross-sell to banking consumers by showing that you know them and care about them as individuals. Provide a deep, authentic and personal touch with tech that automates and powers your communications. Yes, it’s sophisticated technology, but it’s also easy and affordable by design.  Even the smallest FI can acquire and implement it for that rich and relevant human-touch customer experience provides huge returns.

This holiday season, consider DeepTarget DXP for intelligent marketing and sales automation that make your holiday marketing a breeze. During this holiday season and beyond, our one-stop solution will deliver rich holiday content and the technology that creates unique and meaningful experiences for individual banking consumers. Grow deposits, increase loans, gain loyalty, and boost revenue with ease.

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2020

The Pumpkin Spice Effect

The pumpkin spice latte points to a bigger principle that can be applied to just about every industry to create loyalty and long-term customer relationships.

As the autumn season rolls in, it brings with it a cooler breeze, festive décor, and the now-expected annual “Pumpkin Spice” craze. The extreme popularity of this seasonal treat may cause you to ask “Why do we like pumpkin spice so much?” And you are not alone. In an NBC News article that discusses the popularity of this quintessentially fall beverage, Sensory Neuroscientist Dr. John McGann says that it’s all about connection. “Smell anatomically has a more direct connection to classical memory regions in the brain.” In other words, the taste and smell of pumpkin spice means more to us than the beverage itself. It connects us to nostalgic feelings of home, holidays, and happiness. That is a lot of cognitive work for one hot beverage to achieve!

The pumpkin spice latte points to a bigger principle that can be applied to just about every industry. In the nearly two decades since Starbucks first released this seasonal treat, it has become an identifier that many coffee drinkers want to align with because they see in it as a representation of an important part of themselves. A daily pumpkin spice latte may now be accompanied by a pumpkin spice mug, pumpkin spice tee shirt, even a pumpkin spice bumper sticker! This fierce sense of identity all started with an interesting principle…customization.

Gone are the days when a coffee shop sells just… well… coffee. Vanilla Latte. Caramel Cloud Macchiato. Caffe Mocha. The wide array of choices are all customizations of the central product of coffee. Sure, you can still get a good ole plain cup of joe, but with just a little customization – some syrup, some sugar, some milk – you can create a tailored experience for you that builds loyalty.

Much like coffee, a customized banking experience can go a long way to creating a long-term relationship with your account holders. Slight variations to the traditional financial services can feel like so much more to the individual customer. You can get a checking account, or you can get a senior checking account, or a checkless checking account, or a student checking account. All these slight variations to a traditional account feel like a more personal product that is more closely aligned with one’s identity. Well, guess what, that’s because they ARE.

And loyalty is rewarding. By adding some banking “flavors” to your mix, you can create relationships that go far beyond a financial transaction to garner the kind of long-term customer connections that every industry envies. From seasonal promotions to targeted campaigns, relevant data-driven marketing offers a tailored user experience as specific to the needs of the individual as their favorite cup of joe.

DeepTarget enables financial institutions to plan and design data-powered campaigns one time and use them to engage their account holders in unique digital experiences across all digital app spaces. The COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed the need for digital engagement with customers. In June 2020, the DeepTarget Digital Experience Platform served up more than 260 million impressions to 1.93 million digital banking customers resulting in over 12,100 new deposits, loans, and card acquisitions and these statistics show a steady increase month-over-month, increasing customer engagement, loyalty and revenue.

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NOVEMBER 15, 2019

Three Thanksgiving Campaigns That Will Warm Your Heart

The only thing sweeter than sweet potato pies donning Thanksgiving spreads across the county are these sweet ideas for marketing campaigns to kick off your holiday season.

The only thing sweeter than sweet potato pies donning Thanksgiving spreads across the county are these sweet ideas for marketing campaigns to kick off your holiday season.

Banksgiving

When a Ally Bank representative asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you today?” A customer replied, “A million dollars would be nice.” Ally’s human-centric culture responded by declaring “Banksgiving” and giving away gift cards (most totaling $25, not $1m but still!). More on Banksgiving here.

#MakeTodayMatter

Remember when TD Bank chose 24 of its customers and gave them 24 hours fund their holiday wishes for their community? From helping the homeless and assisting the elderly, TD Bank touched the hearts of thousands and funded an inspirational start to the season of giving! More on #MakeTodayMatter here.

Black Friday

Who says banks, credit unions, and financial institutions can’t jump on the Black Friday andCyber Monday bandwagon? First Montana Bank ran a Black Friday promotion starting the day with 1.5% on secured loans and 3.5% on unsecured loans, bumping up the rate every 30 minutes. Their promotion brought in over $2 million in new loans in just four hours. More on First Montana Bank’s Black Friday Campaign.

Feel inspired? Feel festive? Feel like planning a fourth quarter campaign that warms the heart of your customers? It’s not too late! DeepTarget’s smart, one-stop solution and holiday banner library allows our customers to plan their quarter, on average, in about two hours!

DeepTarget’s intelligent marketing and sales automation is ready to make your holiday marketing a breeze. DeepTarget is in use by hundreds of credit unions and banks of varying sizes across the country delivery relevant product offers and pinpointed one-to-one messaging to their banking customers through mobile banking, online banking, web, and email. This holiday season, engage your customers in a seamless communications experience, wherever, whenever and however they bank. Contact us at success@deeptarget.com.

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OCTOBER 30, 2018

DeepTarget “On Fire” Amazon Fire Giveaway

DeepTarget customers are prone to hit a hot streak – getting up to 40X industry standard response rates and 25% boosted cross-sell revenues. Smart software, smarter customers!

DeepTarget customers are prone to hit a hot streak – getting up to 40X industry standard response rates and 25% boosted cross-sell revenues.  Smart software, smarter customers!

To celebrate them and to share their stories, we are hosting the DeepTarget “On Fire” giveaway from Friday, November 2 to Friday, November 16.

For a limited time, you and your coworkers will have a chance to win an Amazon’s #1 Bestseller, the Amazon Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa.

Here’s how it works:

Facebook:

• For one entry: Like our Facebook page

• For two entries: Like our Facebook page and like a post in our On Fire album

• For additional entries: Like our Facebook page, like a post in our On Fire album, and tag a coworker(s) in the comment section (each tag is an additional entry)

Twitter:

• For one entry: follow us on Twitter

• For two entries: follow us on Twitter and like an On Fire post (On Fire posts will be labeled)

• For additional entries: follow us on Twitter, like an On Fire post (On Fire posts will be labeled), and tag a coworker(s) in the comment section OR retweet the post (each tag and retweet is an additional entry)

LinkedIn:

• For one entry: follow us on LinkedIn

• For two entries: follow us on LinkedIn and like an On Fire post (On Fire posts will be labeled)

• For additional entries: follow us on LinkedIn and like an On Fire post (On Fire posts will be labeled), and tag a coworker(s) in the comment section OR share the post (each tag and share is an additional entry)

You can enter across all three platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. The winner will be announced on all three channels on Saturday, November 17.

Good luck! Here’s hoping you experience the same kind of hot streak our customers do!

Only U.S. entries qualify to win.

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OCTOBER 8, 2018

Fall Campaigns Raise Revenues

Football, pumpkin spice, scarves and sweaters, crisp clean air… while surveys vary from 27-45 percent year to year, one thing is clear: Fall reigns supreme as the favored season of American consumers.

Football, pumpkin spice, scarves and sweaters, crisp clean air… while surveys vary from 27-45 percent year to year, one thing is clear: Fall reigns supreme as the favored season of American consumers.

Every season has its own unique identity with distinctive pastimes, events, and holidays that literally cause consumers to feel differently from  season to season. These seasonal moods are prime opportunities for the resourceful marketer. Recognizing the feelings and fun of a season can greatly enhance a consumer’s experience and thus their likeliness to buy. And the best part? Most seasonal campaigns can be done in a relatively short time span and small budget.

Don’t have specialized autumn marketing plans for your bank or credit union? Don’t worry! There is still time. Take a look at these three steps for creating fall campaigns that observe and remind your account holders of the best feelings of this season.

1. Make a plan.

Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday need to be marked on your social media calendar and shared with your team. This calendar needs to include campaign wording as well as where and how often it will be shared with your customers.

Remember that a campaign does not necessarily have to expensive or extensive to be effective. For example, this bank shared through their social media channels that one customer’s child would win the “Home Loan Halloween Costume Contest.” Contest entry was just bringing their child in costume to visit their branch on Halloween. They shared photos of the costumed kids on social media and the photo with the most likes was announced as the winner on November

2. Create a meaningful attraction and let it do the work

The easiest way to break through all the holiday marketing “noise” is to offer a seasonal promotion that is meaningful for your consumers. No decorations necessary, simply choose what product(s) you will offer at an attractive discount, then share this limited time offer consistently across OLB, mobile, and in your branch locations.

Platforms like DeepTarget make this simple, as you easily create an ad campaign once and  share it to your target audience across all digital channels, ensuring maximum exposure, thereby increasing likelihood of related sales. Plus, the easy interface makes designing an ad that features a seasonal hot cup of joe or falling leaves against an autumn palette is as easy as a drag and drop.

3. Throw in a gift

Let’s face it. Who isn’t swayed by a bonus gift, no matter how small? And the great news here is that the giveaway possibilities are literally endless: Fall feature collections from local boutiques, jewelry stores, or outdoor stores; tickets for a local fall festival or pumpkin patch, a catered Thanksgiving Day meal, a cash prize, you name it – the list goes on and on.  A small investment can fetch great returns. It’s even better that you are investing in your local community!

And  you can REALLY sweeten the deal by jumpstarting the season of giving, partnering with a local nonprofit for a cash donation or a dollar matching program allowing your customers that feeling of  personal satisfaction when they are giving back to their community or those in need.

While the autumn months fall in the third quarter of the calendar, for many they usher in a feeling of new beginnings. As the temperatures and colors outdoor change, consumers feelings do too. Connecting your customers with the products that help them achieve their new beginnings at this time of year is mutually beneficial.

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SEPTEMBER 10, 2018

17 Facts About Mobile You May Not Know

Mobile marketing is here to stay. Financial Institutions who wait to adopt mobile marketing strategies will find it harder to reach and grow their audience. Here are seventeen facts about mobile that every marketing manager needs to know (but may not) to motivate marketing on mobile today.

Mobile marketing is here to stay. Financial Institutions who wait to adopt mobile marketing strategies will find it harder to reach and grow their audience. Here are seventeen facts about mobile that every marketing manager needs to know (but may not) to motivate marketing on mobile today.

• Mobile devices have altered the way consumers access their bank.

• Web psychologist Liraz Margalit says that smart phones, mobile access, and the vast amounts of information on the internet have “changed wiring” of our brains as it feeds the human need for control.

• With over 60% of e-commerce starting on a mobile device, your customers realize the banking potential they hold in their hands.

• In the past five years, the number of people accessing their bank account and financial services has more than doubled, now reaching 61%. The majority of these users are millennials.

• Nearly 59% of 18-to-34-year-old American mobile phone users will access their bank, credit union, credit card or brokerage account via mobile browser, app or SMS on their phones at least monthly.

• 32% of American digital banking users are willing to leave their current banking relationship for a better digital experience.

• Mobile device adoption rates are increasing at an incredible rate, surpassing 80% in recent years.

• 73% of U.S. adults now own desktop or laptop computers, while roughly 53% now own a tablet. In fact, the number of mobile devices has outpaced the global population!

• Pew Research Center shares that the number of Americans who own smartphones is now 77%, up from just 35% from their first survey of smartphone ownership conducted just seven years ago.

• Average smartphone conversion rates are up to 64% compared to the average desktop conversion rates.

• Americans spend an average of 10 hours per day on mobile devices. This means that the average American spends over 500 hours per year communicating via mobile technology, including navigating website.

• Phones are carried with people all the time, and checked on average about 74 times per day.

• An ever increasing number of Gen Z and Millennial consumers no longer use desktops and laptops on a consistent basis. If fact, some of them use mobile devices exclusively.

• Many large-scale businesses have shifted to digital marketing.

• World-wide, the push to “mobilize” banking is in full swing, attracting not only major banks but community banks and credit unions as well.

• If banking customers utilize mobile banking for account transactions and check deposits, the overall number of visits to brick-and-mortar branches decreases by 33%.

• Financial institutions that digitize the most important consumer journeys can increase revenues up to 20%and reduce costs by up to 25%.

DeepTarget digital marketing solutions are in use by hundreds of credit unions and banks across the country. DeepTarget’s open, enabling platform easily integrates and already works within multiple mobile banking systems.  Automating the use of customer information it delivers relevant product offers and pinpointed one-to-one messaging to their banking customers through mobile banking and other channels such as online banking, web, and email all the while engaging them in a seamless communications experience, wherever, whenever and however they bank.

Want to know more? Download your FREE copy of DeepTarget’s eBook “10 Reasons To Make Mobile Marketing A Priority For Your Bank Or Credit Union”

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AUGUST 6, 2018

Five Financial Generation Segments And How To Reach Each

Banks and credit unions own a wealth of information about their account-holders, enabling the ability to create a communication plan to reach every account holder – collectively and individually.

Banks and credit unions own a wealth of information about their account-holders, enabling the ability to create a communication plan to reach every account holder – collectively and individually. Instead of mass marketing, the time is now to use this customer information carefully and intelligently to communicate with them in a targeted and personalized manner.

Generational segmentation is one of the simplest yet most effective methods for communicating products and services to your overall audience. A generation comprises a group of people born within a similar span of time (about 15 years) who share a comparable age and life stage and who were shaped by a particular time span’s events, trends and developments.By using generation as a basis for segmentation, we can target certain patterns that are driven from generational differences. Generational marketing is an approach to communication that recognizes and utilizes generational archetypes, patterns or paradigms.

While not the most sophisticated form of targeting, it is a simple and straightforward way to get started as you begin to effectively utilize customer data to move away from traditional mass, “shot-gun” marketing.  Results have shown that members of a particular generational group do have much in common and respond well to messages that target them. Translating generations to relevant communication implies the use of images, messages and offers that would resonate with that particular group.

Financial marketing primarily focuses on five generational segments:

The Silent Generation (1928 – 1945)

While some of the Silent Generation use the Internet and social media, they also still like to be reached via traditional media such as direct mail. It is important that the same message, visuals and offers be presented on both digital and traditional marketing channels.

What appeals to them?

• Family values, a sense of family and belonging

• Savings and financial security, leaving a legacy

• Simple layouts and direct messaging

Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964)

Baby Boomers prefer stability to change and tend to be very loyal to brands that build trust over the years. A bank or credit union that utilizes consistent messaging and value propositions generally performs well with this generation.

What appeals to them?

• A loyalty program that keeps them engaged

• An institution that offers multiple banking products

• Products that offer cash-back incentives

Generation X (1965 – 1979)

Many of this generation are not saving for their retirement or children’s college education as they had planned so programs and incentives to save are appreciated. Gen-X loves to support a cause so share your institution’s charitable outreach with Gen-X account holders.

What appeals to them?

• Savings and coupons

• Contributing to a worthy cause

• Lifestyle nurture programs (messaging like “We’ve been with you all along”)

Generation Y / Millennials (1980 – 1994)

While this generation is very nimble and searches many options before making a decision, they are also drawn to rewards programs. 77% of millennials participate or are willing to participate in rewards or loyalty programs.

What appeals to them?

• Focus on innovation and stay on trend

• Offer and emphasize reviews to show reliability and trustworthiness

• Provide social media incentives

• Offer rewards or loyalty programs

Generation Z / The Net Generation (1995 – Present)

This generation’s buying power is a massive $44 billion and growing. Gen Z is tech savvy across all digital channels. Messaging must be quantitative, quick, and authentic in “snack-able” content that captures their attention and proves the value added.

What appeals to them?

• Use quantitative data

• Reviews and testimonials resonate

• Provide a unified user experience across all digital channels

• Messaging should be to-the-point

While each individual has their own unique personality and responses will not be uniform; responses rates will certainly be far better than a non-targeted, mass marketing approach that tries to show all products to all users despite differences in life stage, finances, and product preferences characterized by generational preference.

Let DeepTarget help your bank or credit union begin communicating with a data-driven strategy today!

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JULY 5, 2018

Your Website Is Your Digital Billboard: Is It Appealing To Your Traffic?

51% of U.S. adults bank online. That is 61% of Internet users. Additionally, 32 % of U.S. adults, or 35% of cell phone owners bank using their mobile phones. This means that, along with being a hub for your product information, your bank or credit union’s website is one of your most important marketing assets. For better or for worse, Paul Cookson said it best:

“Websites promote you 24/7: No employee will do that.”

Let’s discuss the five factors that make a great financial website.

1. Convenience

Your customers are busy. They do not want to spend time searching your entire website for what they need. A good website provides quick and easy access to a website visitor. Ensure that your website is organized with the target audience in mind. This includes simple navigation with prominent links and services located at the top and a logical progression to secondary services. Items like “Open An Account” or “Check Our Rates” should be easily seen at a glance.

Quick tip: Test your websites structure with a “3 Click Quiz” by trying to navigate to any service or product within just three clicks from the home page.

With so many customers accessing your website from mobile devices, make sure your website uses responsive programming so that the design and menu easily adapt to smaller screens.

When all else fails, a handy dandy search bar can be a great tool for your customers to find what they need quickly.

2. Content

The content on your website needs to be straight forward and easy to read. Especially on a mobile device, webpages with paragraphs of content can be frustrating so try to be as concise as possible, offering website visitors useful information and linking helpful tools or resources they may need. Your message needs to be simple and written with SEO (search engine optimization) in mind so that keywords are prominent and easily searchable.

Quick tip: Test your content on your personal mobile device to ensure that it is easily to scan from a small screen.

3. Community

The way your website looks is a testament to your bank or credit union. The design needs to be simple and striking, as well as consistent with your brand. Additionally, the design needs to connect with your community. Be visually consistent with your geographical area and demographics of your target audience to communicate your bank’s connection with the community.

Quick Tip: Consider hiring a professional, local photographer to capture high resolution, horizontal, beautiful photos that can be used for your websites home page, page headers, backgrounds, and reused for your other marketing materials.

One way to capture this and create lifelong loyal customers, is to photograph your customers: A farmer who received an agriculture loan, a mortgage customer next to their SOLD sign, a business loan customer outside their café, etc.

4. Contact

Even with the move to digital in recent years, it is still important to offer a personal touch for banks and credit unions. One way to offer achieve this is to feature your organization’s executives and staff on a team page. For local institutions, this may include everyone on staff; larger organizations may want to feature officers of their departments with simple contact numbers or emails. This feature may seem easy to exclude, but offers a very “human” touch that is important to some customers.

Secondly, ensure that your website offers correct and easy to understand map and directions for your location. Especially for organizations with multiple branches, having a map with locations, directions, and a contact number is key to keeping customers happy.

Quick Tip: Don’t forget to test your maps and directions to ensure that first time customers can easily use the directions provided on your website to find your location.

5. Consistency

Your website is the central hub for all your product and service information, and needs to be the landing spot for all your marketing communications. Having the same, targeted ads found on your website that are also in mobile and email communications create a consistency that reinforces your message and builds trust. With a software like DeepTarget Web it can be effortless for you to display banner ads that promote your brand and your products to your website visitors. A web channel that is fully integrated with our omni-channel platform provides intelligent banner ad delivery for the website of your financial institution.

DeepTarget can enhance your website by offering a powerful, enabling communications platform to showcase new products or campaigns, use the banners to inform and educate, and of course to build and promote the brand of your financial institution. There is a solution focused on leveraging the websites of financial institutions to engage visitors called DeepTarget Web. We hope you check it out. This can be yet another tool in your digital arsenal to engage your customers and visitors who you should work to turn into customers.

Let’s get started! Connect with and engage your website visitors every day, 24/7 with DeepTarget.

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JUNE 15, 2018

Five Keys to Craft Your Message

DeepTarget’s goal is to help financial institutions effectively and affordably engage with their customers using personalized and relevant messaging with digital marketing technology. To do this, we offer our comprehensive communication platform which intelligently sorts and filters your customers’ data to easily provide targeted and personalized offers to individuals through digital channels such as online banking, mobile banking, email and web. But that’s not all we offer! Our experts are here to help you determine the best methods and messages to reach your customers and members. In addition to providing the initial messaging for your first campaigns, we have five key tips to crafting your message that we have gathered over our years of experience:

1. Be Thoughtful

The age-old adage “Think before you speak” comes to mind. Consumers are receiving tons of information on a daily basis across every channel they interact with. Organizations must think before they start talking to ensure that they are connecting and resonating instead of just adding more “noise” to these conversations.

2. Be Positive

Your brand needs to be a reflection of your mission and company culture. Stay positive, informative, helpful, and avoid your communications becoming a platform for negativity or complaining.

3. Be Authentic

Have a genuine desire to connect with individuals. You need to believe in your organization and services before sharing them with others. Once you are excited to share your products, reach out in an authentic manner. Many organizations are using video to make this happen. Even with traditional advertising, your messages can resonate by using lay terms and using images of everyday people and situations that your customers can relate to.

4. Be Consistent

Being consistent with brand, tone, and offers across platforms builds momentum, trust and recognition.

5. Be Smart

Every business has to determine the most efficient way to use their time and resources to communicate. It’s important that you measure the success of every campaign to determine what works best for your customers and your business. In this age of digital marketing, not using analytics is not an option! In addition, mobile and other digital communications are surpassing all other marketing methods for reaching your targeted audiences as increasingly more people rely on consistent Internet access through smartphones and hand-held devices.

With these five guidelines, your financial institutions communications are more likely to succeed. Paired with our technology, it is a recipe for success. DeepTarget customers – hundreds of credit unions and banks of various sizes – achieve record levels of high quality leads each month, as much as seven times the industry standard, by using automated data intelligence to deliver timely, valuable offers.

DeepTarget is a simpler, faster way to accomplish more with less. What are you waiting for? Contact us today.

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APRIL 25, 2018

Anatomy of an Ad

With warmer weather, green grass and blooming flowers, we know summer is quickly approaching. And with summer comes a whole new blitz of summer-oriented ads. With the warmth of summer come outdoor activities, family beach trips and summer vacations so, of course, it’s great for advertisements to capture that sunny spirit of summer. As new ad campaigns are gearing up for the changing season, we’ll dive into the anatomy of a good ad to help your financial institution market and communicate effectively to capture your customers’ interest and prompt them to act.

A Good Ad Connects With Its Audience

Connection with the viewer needs to be accomplished within just a few seconds. Jamie Turner writes in an article for the 60 Second Marketer that the average viewer looks at an ad for only two seconds: 1.5 seconds in observing the visuals with just 0.5 seconds in looking at your copy. His advice? Hook the reader within those two seconds. Research across many advertising platforms show that viewers have a 26 percent higher recall of photographs than of artwork. In this annually awaited season, choose vibrant photographs that capture summer nostalgia and evoke emotions to promote products that appeal to different individuals – everything from photos of a sports car with the top down on a warm day, to a walk on the beach at sunset.

Once a strong photo has been chosen, turn your attention to choosing the right headline. Moz reports, “80% of readers never make it past the headline.” Digital advertisers must remember to capture the attention of the reader. While months or years are spent developing the product, mere weeks or even days are spent creating the communications – whether it is a webpage or marketing collateral materials to support that product.  Sometimes, it’s even ignored that it comes down to the strength of the ad headline to determine whether or not people care to learn more about the product you have invested so much in.  A good headline is short, memorable, and evokes an emotion in the reader. Using clear wording surrounded by “white space” is effective, too, so the reader is not confused by the message nor need to hunt for relevant information. Effective advertising does not fill up every area of an ad; rather it allows room for the message to connect.

This limited time and space may encourage the notion that the ad or commercial must be full to the brim with information. This is misleading, and merely creates a cluttered, schizophrenic ad that becomes lost among similar amateur efforts. It is far more effective to develop a concise, coherent ad that appeals well to its audience.

-Agama Advertising

Speaking of “audience,” it’s important to clarify that the audience is not one mass market but instead is made up of diverse individuals of different demographics, needs, and wishes.  So, one ad headline will not appeal to everyone.  Each individual or category of individuals deserves their own thoughtful headline that appeals to them and evokes emotion. That may seem like a lot of work, but that’s what data-driven marketing is all about.  More work perhaps, but significantly better results and returns on that investment for sure!  More on this later.

A Good Ad Clearly Directs To The Next Step

Even with a memorable image and catchy headline, without detailing the next step the viewer should take, your advertisement will not get the results you want. A call to action is the incentive for the viewer to act immediately. Your ad’s call to action needs to be thoughtfully created to maximize clicks. Unbouce recommends that you call the viewer to action by using practical language and active verbs. By avoiding jargon and industry terms, you are creating a customer-focused strategy that keeps their need at the forefront of the ad. Tell the reader what to do with words like “Act,” “Apply,” “Check,” “Learn”, “Click,” “Contact,” “Discover,” “Save,” or short phrases like “Don’t miss,” “Don’t wait,” “Find out” to engage the reader and create a sense of urgency. This call to action also needs to be visible and not surrounded by clutter. While many organizations feel the need to give details of the product, remember that the ultimate goal of the ad is to convert viewers to act, so less is indeed more.

A good ad is one that is written and designed to emotionally connect with its target audience. Once connected, your ad’s rhetoric strongly persuades its consumer to want the product or service. The individual recognizes a need for it and feels a sense of urgency until the purchase is made.

-Epic Marketing

A Good Ad Is Targeted To Its Audience

While the average bank or credit union offers more than twenty financial products at a minimum, the average consumer holds an average of 7.4 banking products across all their various relationships, excluding investments.  This demonstrates an important fact that many financial institutions miss in their marketing: not all products are a good fit for all customers. An effective ad is targeted to the audience that will find it most relevant. The Small Business Chronicles says, “A big part of developing an effective advertising campaign is knowing exactly who your target audience is. Chances are the product or service you offer will not appeal to everyone, so it is important to identify the segment of the population that is most likely to need what you have to offer.”

DeepTarget’s powerful platform enables the automation of targeted offers by mining your data for the perfect consumer product/service mix and using smart rules to deliver the right message every time. For example, a targeted offer sent to a group of people identified to be appropriate recipients because of their stage in life, might say “Your dream home is just a click away with our home equity line of credit rate of just 3.75%.” Even more impressive, DeepTarget can send personalized offers unique to the recipient in that it can contain their name and an offer that is specific and customized to them, such as “Craig, you have $25,000 available at 2.75% on your home equity line of credit.”

To understand its power and the results that our customers are seeing, you only have to review a few of the testimonials that we have received from our financial institution clients, such as this one:

“We are extremely happy with the way DeepTarget supports our Digital Marketing Strategy!  DeepTarget allows us to engage our members in our online and mobile channels, targeting each generation with relevant products at their best financial time.  We have been able to easily implement our own creative graphics and messaging into DeepTarget’s campaign engine and the analytics show our results have been outstanding!”

-Ashley Baldeon, Marketing Creative Manager, Andrews Federal Credit Union

Why waste valuable marketing dollars? Instead, plan on a software ROI frequently over 500% this summer! Contact us today at sales@deeptarget.com or 256 217 4055.

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FEBRUARY 3, 2018

Loving the Love Triangle of Data-Driven Communications

While a sticky situation for a romantic comedy or an interesting subplot for a teen novel, you may just love the love triangle that results from the smart segmentation, personalization and targeting of an automated and intelligent customer engagement and communications platform, sometimes also referred to as digital marketing or marketing automation.

Love Your Enabling Communications Platform

Instead of your account-holder data gathering dust, imagine it working for you. Using the account-holder information you already have, a digital communications and marketing platform can automate and segment, providing targeted ads using a combination of factors such as age, gender, life events, personal preferences and buying habits to deliver the right offer to the right person at the right time and place.

The adoption of marketing automation is growing at a rapid pace as realization of positive ROI spreads. On average, 51% of companies are using some form of marketing automationalthough levels of sophistication vary. This technology makes menial tasks practical while providing valuable business analytics. Plus, it makes intelligent segmentation and multi-channel marketing a reality… you’ve got to love it!

Love Your Account-Holders

Automation no longer means “cold” or “impersonal” – in fact, it is quite the opposite. Show your account-holders that you love and appreciate them by sending relevantcommunications. Communication or offers to customers or members that do not meet a current need, do not support their life objectives, or are not even of interest, communicate that you do not know your customers, or do not care. You are indeed wasting their time and filling their inboxes and newsfeeds with stuff that doesn’t matter to them.

On the contrary, automated, intelligent digital marketing and communications help take the guess work out of marketing by creating clear patterns and segments of your larger audience. This makes each communication and touch point much more meaningful to the recipient. By combining your knowledge of individual customers with automation, you can leverage technology to achieve that critical factor of relevance for all of your communication to your account holders. That resonates and provides you the returns and results you seek by engaging them in what matters to them. You’ve got to love that too!

They Love You (And Your Communication) Back

With more of consumers banking either online or on their mobile devices, the expectations for concurrent conversations are growing. When asked whether they would rather see online ads for random products and services or ads directed toward their interests,

40.5 percent of respondents to a new survey chose the latter (targeted ads) while another 27.6 percent were content to see both.

Give the people what they want and they’ll love you for it. Communication that is relevant builds trust. By actually using the rich account-holder information that you own to target your communications across all channels, you are building trust between the consumer and their bank or credit union. Ultimately, you engage and cross-sell with positive results. It’s truly a win-win for you and your account-holders.

How can you not love that?

You own a wealth of information about each of your account-holders. Why not leverage that for an overall campaign strategy that embodies a seamless communication plan to reach each and every account holder individually? Not doing so is such a wasted opportunity!

Instead of shotgun mass marketing, show some love by taking advantage of what you know about your customers. When you are precise, deliberate and intelligent in your communications, it shows. When you are purposeful and personalized in your messaging, it shows. And we guarantee that you will absolutely love the results!   Targeted ads are on average almost twice as effective as non-targeted ones. That’s huge! And IBM shared that organizations that embrace analytics are more than twice as likely to outperform their peers. In fact, enterprises that apply advanced analytics have 33% more revenue growth and 12x more profit growth.

With a hyper focus on intelligent customer engagement and marketing for the Financial Services industry, DeepTarget’s enabling communications platform plus our expertise and experience can help you show that love to your customers. And you will love the results!

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JANUARY 8, 2018

How To Make (And Keep) A New Year’s Resolution For Your Financial Institution

More than a third of all resolutions made for the New Year fail before January. But, with the right planning, it doesn’t have to be yours! A successful resolution for your bank or credit union hinges on identifying the right goal for your organization, creating an actionable plan, and communicating the goal.

Identify a goal that makes sense

Many New Year’s resolutions more closely resemble wishful thinking with lofty goals and no measurable way to track success. Instead, your financial institution should set a specific goal with an achievable timetable and measureable results.

The beginning of a New Year is a great time for your team to do some strategic planning. A successful strategy identifies audiences to target and products that need to be emphasized in a deliberate way with the timeline and budget to achieve it.

Creating an actionable plan

Remember, setting the goal does not automatically get the ball rolling. After setting the goal, you need to create the plan that will help you achieve it, and will foresee any potential setbacks or difficulties along the way.

Your resolution was carefully chosen based on the goals and strengths of your organization. Create a flexible routine that breaks down goals into bite-sized, achievable action items. Communication tied to your goal, when done consistently over time, can become second nature to your employees to create, and expected for your members or customers to receive.

Any resolution plan should have a room for improvements. Every strategy will meet its challenges – a good marketing strategy is flexible and can evolve as results are measured for success and adapt for the highest results.

Communicating the goal

Once overarching goals and metrics for success are established, share the resolution and action items with your team. By sharing your plans, you are asking your team to join in and have them hold you accountable. Having a community who understands the plan and wants the organization to succeed can help you stick with it. Employees may be excited to see results, suggest improvements to strategy, and be more likely share marketing materials and messaging related to goals.

If this seems overwhelming, DeepTarget can help. You set the goals. We help you reach them. Our fully integrated omni-channel platform provides intelligent, targeted communication that puts your data to work. Effectively promote your brand or specific financial products and services to your customers and access our comprehensive analytics and insights that track ad-specific impressions and clicks in real time and measure the true engagement of visitors to your website.

Make your 2018 resolution one that sticks and works for your financial institution. To learn more about customer engagement and cross-selling with DeepTarget’s integrated, enabling platform, contact us today.

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DECEMBER 13, 2017

New Year But No New Marketing Plans?

If those twinkling lights and Christmas carols are a wake-up call that the year is almost over, you are not alone. Over 30% of businesses fail to create a marketing plan while a whopping 49% of businesses still don’t have a digital marketing strategy in place.

While the ideal time to start making plans for the coming year is in the early fall months, it’s not too late. You can create a solid marketing plan for next year by keeping in mind a few helpful guidelines:

1. Know your people

Before you dive headfirst into planning for the New Year, remind yourself of whom you serve. What are your members/customers likes and dislikes? Are certain products more aligned with an age group or life stage? Targeted messages are meaningful and build trust so creating some segmented lists is a great place to start planning for communication that delivers the right message to the right person.

2. Know your strengths

Make sure that your team is presenting a cohesive experience. It is important that each employee knows your financial institution brand, products, and messaging to ensure that your strengths are leveraged and your customers receive a pleasant and consistent experience each time they interact with your institution.

3. Know what works

You can plan for the future by knowing what worked (and what didn’t) in the past. Analytics are key – evaluate the clicks, impressions, and sales from recent ad campaigns. This quick review should giving you a good idea of what to tweak for next year and give measurable goals for what a successful ad will attain.

4. Know the cost

The main reason that financial institutions feel unprepared for the coming year is because they haven’t planned for the cost – in time, resources, and budget – to be successful. On average, most companies spend more on janitorial services than they do on marketing! Schedule time to determine your marketing budget, focus, messaging, and resource needs for the coming year so you are confident about the coming months and that you have a plan for success.

5. Know when to ask for help

With a communications and cross selling such as DeepTarget, you are able to automate and intelligently target messages and offers using a combination of factors such as life events, personal preferences and buying habits. And all of this can be done by leveraging account holder information that you already have! Over time you can continue to multi-segment and be creative with your messaging using different communication styles to reflect the diverse personas in your account-holder base to create more and more ad success.

We are confident – based on results that our financial institution customers have witnessed that DeepTarget can help you engage, cross–sell, and measurehelping you to achieve the highest number of ad impressions, clicks, leads, and sales transactions ever in the history of your financial institution.

Let’s get started today to welcome the New Year with confidence!

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NOVEMBER 14, 2017

Connect with Gen-X through a Giving Spirit this Holiday Season

A generation is a group of people born within a similar span of time – 15 years at the upper end – who are of comparable age and life stage.  Each individual has their own unique personality so preferences are not uniform; however people who were shaped by a particular span of time’s events, trends and developments are generally characterized by generational preferences.

Generation X (1965 – 1979) loves to support a cause, so share your institution’s charitable outreach with Gen-X account holders. Or better yet, get them involved. The holiday season is a wonderful time to experiment with charitable giving initiatives as people enjoy the “most wonderful time of the year” with year-end giving (and spending).  These festive events show that your bank or credit union is a good community citizen and creates positive connections with people – especially Gen-X – as they have the opportunity to support a good cause. Plus, they are just plain fun.  

Fun and feel-good holiday promotion ideas for banks or credit unions:

• Sponsor a holiday event: Christmas pageants, tree lighting, outdoor ice skating rink, a Christmas classic at a local theater

• Host a drive: Collect warm clothes for a local shelter, toys for children, canned food drive for the food bank, pet supplies and more

• Start a social media holiday hashtag: #GetCreative and think social, tying each use of the hashtag to a $1 donation to a local nonprofit

• Help someone in need: Partner with local nonprofits or news stations to solicit nominations of deserving community members to fulfill their Christmas wish or letter to Santa

• Put it to a vote: Create a holiday contest around a theme and allow fans to vote for their favorites. The winner receives a donation to the charity or nonprofit of their choice. (Example: Best holiday pet photo wins a donation to a local animal shelter.)

Who wouldn’t love participating in events like these? But these promotions are gift-wrapped to resonate with Generation X. Remember, while more tech savvy than the previous two generations, Gen-X still prefers to communicate via email so be sure to incorporate email advertising for your holiday festivities.

DeepTarget has the expertise to create highly focused communication to very concentrated target audiences based on their generational archetypes and so much more. Our tools create relevant communication that builds trust with your account holders. Let us help take the guess work out of marketing by creating clear patterns and segments of your larger audience to make each marketing message meaningful to the reader.

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SEPTEMBER 6, 2017

3 Reasons to Begin Generational Marketing Today

Across all industries the adoption of marketing automation is growing at a rapid pace. On average, 51% of companies are using some form of marketing automation although levels of sophistication vary. Automated business intelligence technology makes menial tasks practical while providing valuable business analytics. But, is it necessary? And, if so where do you begin?

1: Mass Marketing Does Not Work

Communication that is relevant builds trust. By actually using the rich account-holder information that you own to target your communications across all channels, you are building trust between the consumer and their bank or credit union.

When asked whether they would rather see online ads for random products and services or ads directed towards their interests, 40.5 percent of respondents chose targeted ads. Source: http://cmo.cm/2eKSutZ

So if your current messaging does not solve the reader’s problem, or meet their need, or resonate, is irrelevant and unnecessary. Messaging like this communicates that you do not know your customers, or do not care and that you are indeed wasting their time (and yours).

Targeted advertisements are, on average, almost twice as effective as non-targeted ads. A retargeted display ad will encourage 1,000 percent more people to search for a product. Source: http://cmo.cm/2eKSutZ

Is your account-holder data gathering dust? Industry expertise and experience has shown that even a simple targeting methodology such as generational targeting will yield higher responses compared to broad, undifferentiated mass marketing. So, a first step would be to start segmenting your customer or member data by generational characteristics and needs.

2: Generational Marketing is a Good Place to Start

Generational segmentation is one of the simplest yet most effective methods to use when communicating a variety of products and services in a targeted way to your overall audience. A generation groups people born within a similar span of time – about 15 years – because they shared and were shaped by similar events and trends. And, while each individual has their own unique personality, there are proven generalities that can benefit your organization’s communication with far better results than a non-targeted, mass marketing approach that tries to show all products to all users despite differences in life stage, finances, and product preferences characterized by generational preference.

For example, did you know that Baby Boomers prefer programs with cash-back incentives? Or that Gen-X is drawn to participating in programs that donate to worthy causes? Or that Gen Z highly values reviews and testimonials?

Generational information like this allows us to create the formula of success: the right offer or message to the right person at the right time and place. To do this effectively and efficiently you must use business intelligence to automate the digital marketing process.

3: With Digital Marketing Tools You Can Target Automatically

Digital marketing products help take the guess work out of marketing by creating clear patterns and segments of your larger audience to make each marketing message meaningful to the reader. You ALREADY own a wealth of information about each of your account-holders. With more of consumers banking either online or on their mobile devices, it is important that you have an overall campaign strategy which embodies a seamless communication plan to reach every account holder – collectively and individually.

Once you implement generational targeting, you can continue to improve on it. To provide even more relevance to the consumer, from this point forward, you can get even more sophisticated with segmentation, narrowing your targeting methods to get increasingly better results from your marketing investments. DeepTarget can help you add automation variables including first name, age, gender, location, credit rating, financial info; loans, CDs, and more.

Generational segmentation is the foundation of digital targeting. While there are other segmentation methods that pull from the rich customer information available, starting generational targeting will immediately boost marketing returns. As other customer data is utilized to create multi-segmentation, marketing campaigns advance to highly focused communication to very concentrated target audiences refined with micro business intelligence. The key now is to get started! Visit our website to download our FREE Digital Marketing Handbook or contact us today to achieve the highest number of ad impressions, clicks, leads, and sales transactions ever in the history of your financial institution.

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JUNE 7, 2016

Tips For Retention!

What is the Lifetime Value of a Customer? CLV represents the total dollar amount that each customer is worth to your business.

Repeat After Me: RETENTION

How are we retaining our Customers?

Now Say: CUSTOMER LIFETIME VALUE

Let those 3 words ring in your mind. What is the Lifetime Value of a Customer? CLV represents the total dollar amount that each customer is worth to your business. Now that we have established how important Retention is; let’s talk about a few tips for increasing it.

Tip #1 – Proactive Customer Support

For happy customers, great customer service needs to be the norm, but exceeding expectations is a powerful way to get your customers talking (after all, a recent survey found that Americans tell an average of nine people about good customer service experiences). The never ending pursuit of excellence to keep customers so satisfied that they tell others how well they were treated when doing business with you. This one is easy! The better the service you provide, the more customers you’re going to retain, and the more loyal they will be.

Tip #2 – Scheduled Frequent Communication

Your communications are fundamental to any customer retention techniques. However, this has to be planned out. You have to provide a strategy for how often you want to contact existing customers and decide upon what communication type should be used. (Email, newsletter, blog) The exact frequency you choose will depend on your industry and even seasonality but you must have a plan and you must communicate.

Tip #3 – Request Feedback

All the best customer retention strategies require constant feedback from the customer to establish what is working and what is not working. Surveys and questionnaires are a perfect way of doing this. Both of these methods gather information from your customer. When you get a complaint see it for what it is….. A Gift! 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain. The just walk away, and you’ll never know why. When you incorporate questionnaires and surveys it gives your customer a place to complain and share their experiences with you. When customers have the opportunity to complain/share they are giving you a gift; they are still talking to you and giving you another opportunity to return them to a state of satisfaction.

The consequences of customer retention will compound over time – and that can either be a very good or a very bad outcome; so be on purpose with your strategies for customer retention. These few tips should just get the juices flowing in creating that strategy. The resulting effect on long term profit and growth ….. Priceless.

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JUNE 7, 2016

Is Technology Moving Fast Enough?

Almost universally the answer to this question is: Yes, absolutely! Technology is moving at an incredible pace – at the “speed of thought” some say.

Is computer technology moving fast enough?

Almost universally the answer to this question is: Yes, absolutely! Technology is moving at an incredible pace – at the “speed of thought” some say. Moore’s Law (search the internet for “Moore’s Law” for more details), formulated in 1965 and updated in 1975, has been accurate for 50 years in predicting the exponential growth of computer performance. Moore’s Law predicted that the number of transistors that can be packed into an integrated circuit would double every couple of years. This has far reaching implications, from the number of megapixels in your digital camera and the ability to deposit checks from your mobile phone, to navigation systems used by drones.

Having said this, the raw power of computers helps enormously, however, it is not the solution to everything. Someone has to write applications. These are programs written by humans that naturally will encapsulate human flaws. It is very common to hear in the news things such as that a disruption in stock trading or chaos in an airline reservation system was caused by a “computer glitch”. Most of the time, this really means that there was human error in a computer program.

There have been huge advances in computer applications that track and leverage on the power of microprocessors predicted by Moore’s Law. However, I would argue that there are some cases where perhaps technology is moving too slow. I will discuss one example that I am sure will resonate with everyone.

It is hard to believe that after decades since the advent of modern computers, passwords are the mainstay of computer security. Most likely everyone reading this article has experienced the “password nightmare”. A myriad of passwords written in sticky notes, forgotten passwords (at the worst possible moment), hacked accounts, etc. Experts provide advice on how to manage your password. The most common advice is to create cryptic passwords like “This#must$be@Joke”… Oops, the password cannot contain words found in a dictionary and it should contain letters and numbers, so it better be something like “GFt#kHgT$33@Ef20”. How am I supposed to remember this? So here come the sticky notes. Experts tell us that passwords need to be changed often (say every 90 days), and that you need to use a different password for each account that you use. All this is tragicomic and it results in many people getting frustrated and using passwords like “123456” and “password”. Amazingly, many industry surveys show that these are the two most popular passwords (search the internet for “most popular passwords”). There is new technology that helps authentication with devices such as finger print readers or iris readers, however these technologies are still not well developed. Let’s hope that at some point in the future, passwords will become obsolete and computer scientists will develop authentication that is easy, reliable and secure. It will not be soon enough in my book.

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APRIL 27, 2016

How To Be a Master Gardener of Your Business

My father was known as the Tomato King in our county – his garden was immense (11 dozen tomato plants) for our family of four – and that was just the first planting.  I still cringe whenever I hear the sound of a handle hitting the side of a bucket as it brings back memories of early mornings when he would bring in a hundred gallons of newly picked tomatoes for us to wash and can.  You would have thought I would have had enough tomatoes for a lifetime.  Truth be told, I did.

However, after years of eating pale, woody, tasteless tomatoes from the grocery, I longed for the taste of the juicy home-grown tomatoes I had eaten as a youth.  I had a little extra time on my hands, so I decided to grow my own.  After reading all I could on plant varieties and watching hours of YouTube videos on container gardening, I was ready to get started.  It is strange how a little gardening gives one perspective on other areas of life – even business.  Here are my 10 gardening tips that amazingly parallel ways to grow a successful organization:

1. Choose a large enough container – think big – give the roots a place into which to expand.

2. Select multiple varieties of plants – hire people with diverse capabilities and age ranges – choose new hybrids and heirlooms.

3. Cage and stake the plants early – have processes and procedures in place so that there is structure – trying to fit a cage on a larger plant takes more effort and can damage the plant.

4. Choose a sunny spot – create a positive environment – get 8 hours of sun a day.

5. Water consistently – stay fresh and current – don’t let the roots go dry.

6. Pinch off suckers – don’t get sidetracked from the main goal – keep the energy on the primary stalk.

7. Flick the flowers – encourage skill development – stimulate pollination to develop the fruits.

8. Rotate the containers – be strong in all areas of the business – develop every side of the plant.

9. Watch for pests and disease – monitor and control the health of the business – be alert and treat issues promptly.

10. Fertilize weekly after the fruit forms – don’t get comfortable with the first signs of success – extra nutrients are essential for a thriving plant.

The most successful organizations include all of these elements.  What other gardening tips do you have for growing a successful business?

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APRIL 25, 2016

Do It Yourself, But First Get Help!

I consider myself relatively independent.  I am not afraid to try something new, and if given the option, I prefer to do it myself: to learn about it on my own and try it out without somebody looking over my shoulder.

That kind of attitude certainly has its advantages, such as getting things done at your desired pace, not having to rely on anyone else, and best of all, avoiding the laughter or criticism of others when you trip and fall.

On the flip side, there is nobody there to pick you back up, encourage you, or help keep you from tripping in the first place.  Getting help at the start can mean avoiding common (and potentially costly) mistakes, and it can build trust and confidence that could make whatever you are working on better/faster/smoother/more successful.

More and more, your clients, your customers, or your members want to do it themselves, and they expect to be able to.  But they will likely need some help along the way.  Are you  providing the help they need to be a DIY’er success?

A couple of examples I personally experienced within the past week.

First, the DIY Fail.

My brother is coming across the country to visit next month, so we decided that for part of the visit we would all rent a condo at the beach together.  I’m very accustomed to booking travel online, so I started looking.  To my delight, there were several sites with beach condos for rent and the ability to book them online. I spent hours looking for the best location at the right size for an acceptable price.  Part of those hours were intentional, but part of them were caused by:

Problem #1: we only wanted 3 nights but most places wanted a week minimum.  This caused me grief in the search process because many places would appear to be available, but after spending the time to enter a lot of information, I would then get rejected because of that minimum.  That did not happen on every site, but on those it did, It was frustrating to say the least.

We finally found what we felt was a perfect setup, it claimed it was available for the desired 3 nights, and it had everything necessary to book it online myself, which I did with great satisfaction. I got the confirmation emails, and I let my brother know we were beach-bound in just over a month.  It was a learning experience, but I felt good about having found the best place I could, on my own, and booking it myself.  Until I got another email:

Problem #2: just a few minutes after celebrating the confirmation of our trip, I received another email from the vacation rental management company.

“Great choice! Only issue is we require a Saturday to Saturday minimum. Give us a call ASAP if you can make this work or if you are open to another option. Your card has not been processed.”

Fail!  I started looking on my own again, but at my brother’s suggestion, I gave in and called the place.  I got an extremely knowledgeable and helpful rep named Luke.  From him I learned that they have a standard 6 night minimum (that I misunderstood in the Terms and Conditions) but that it can be flexible if it’s closer to the travel dates and the condo hasn’t been booked (hence the ability to book it for 3 nights with the online tool).  We were not close enough to our dates, so the owners still wanted to hold out for a 6 night reservation.  What to do?

Solution: while on the phone, Luke immediately went into finding mode.  Within 5 minutes I was looking at a new place I hadn’t seen during all my independent searching.  It was in nearly the same location, with similar accommodations, and best of all, with a lower price tag.  Plus, Luke provided expert information and advice helping me get the lower price and feel even more confident about the new reservation than the one I had booked myself.

LESSON:  This was a DIY fail on multiple levels, from my own lack of experience and reluctance to get help, to the failure of enabling software to actually enable me.  In the end, if I could have talked to Luke or someone like him at the beginning of the process, I could have saved myself a lot of time and wasted effort.  The experts in this case had a lot of help to offer, but I didn’t get it until the end.  In other words, do it yourself, but first get help!

Second, the DIY Success.

Recently we decided to put wood flooring in the main level of our home, and with that “I can do anything!” spirit, we set out to do it ourselves.  Ripping up the carpet was easy.  Taking up the tile was more involved, and when it was done, we found ourselves with an area of the concrete slab with some superficial damage that would need to be repaired in order to ensure the new flooring rested on a smooth and level surface.  What to do?  Hello Google!

Within 10 minutes I was aware of 3 different products that could do the job.  The company that made one of those had also made several step-by-step videos showing how to use their products.  Five minutes later, I had seen what tools were needed, how to prep the surface, and how to accomplish the task.

Fast forward a week and my slab is patched and ready for the wood flooring.  The product was available at the store, looked just like it did in the video, and worked exactly as described and shown.  Success!

LESSON: Expert advice up front made all the difference.  I could have gone to the store and purchased the patching material without that advice, but I would not have been confident about what I was doing.  I could have followed the instructions on the bucket, but it did not provide the same level of detail about surface preparation or tools to use, and it certainly did not show me how to do the job.  The finished job would have been sub-par at best.  The video I watched at the beginning gave me important knowledge as well as the confidence to move ahead and successfully complete the project.  In other words, do it yourself, but first get help!

Technology is enabling the independent DIY’er in all of us more than ever, from booking a beach condo to remodeling your home to managing your investment portfolio.  But it is that expertise and human touch that can make a world of difference.  If you are diving into something new, look for help at the outset.  If you provide services for others, look for opportunities to better provide the help they need up front.  You can do it yourself, but first get help!

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MARCH 25, 2016

How Social Are You, Anyway?

Seven Social Media Marketing Tips for Financial Institutions

1. Ignore social media at your peril

Here are some statistics that will either excite you or scare you:

• There are now more than 2 billion active social media users worldwide and this is growing at an amazing annual pace of 25%

• Nine out of ten U.S. companies are active on social media

• Question: Are you one of them?

• Question: Do you know what you are doing on social media?

• Question: Are you reaping benefits?

• Question: Or not?

My advice to you: get excited about the opportunity to engage and market using social media!

2. Customers and prospects

There is not a single demographic that is not active in social media.  Well, maybe babies and toddlers (except have you seen some of those little children glued to their parents’ tables or Smartphones?).

Facebook, the most popular social platform, boasts 72% of all American adults!

And to show the diverse demographics of the users, check this out:

• 77% of women are users,

• 82% of adults aged 18-29,

• 79% of adults aged 30-49,

• 64% of adults aged 50-64 and

• An incredible 48% of adults over 65!

This is just a teaser for you. Have a look at some of the other demographics and social media trends.

Now, imagine this:  These people are your customers and your potential customers.

What a wasted opportunity if you are not investing heavily into getting to know them better.

3. Listen

One of the first activities on social media is to monitor what real people – your customers – are saying about you.

4.   Engage

The next, logical thing to do is to engage them in a conversation.  This could be one that they start or one that you start, it doesn’t really matter. The important aspect is to either take the initiative or be responsive (which can only happen if you are listening, in the first place).

5.   Connect

When you engage your customers, you connect with them at a level that is not possible with other types of traditional marketing. By listening, by responding and by having a conversation, you are taking the connection to a new, higher level. And the amazing part of this is that, today, you are able to make this close connection on a truly human-to-human level without ever having to have face-to-face encounter in a physical branch.  It really works!

6.   Stay Connected

The story doesn’t end there. Once you connect, don’t make the mistake about forgetting about that connection.  Figure out how to stay connected.  During the first engagement, you found out something about that individual.  Now, it’s important to use that information in a manner that makes sense – one that is appropriate, relevant and ongoing.  The conversation will evolve and change, but staying connected to your customers through these social media channels should not be an afterthought.  It should be part of your entire marketing strategy.

7.   Repeat

Now that you have the formula, repeat it.  Repeat it with each and every individual customer and contact that you are able to make. And repeat the formula on an ongoing basis with all of your connections. When you think about the sheer marketing opportunity this offers, how can you help but get excited? I know I can’t!

Finally, to help you on this social media marketing journey a number of resources are either available now or being introduced in the market every day.

This is but the tip of the iceberg and the beginning of a long and profitable journey for your financial institution.

Image Credits:

1.     By Ibrahim.ID [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

2.     By Intel Free Press [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Content Credits:

Fast Company – 5 Trends That Will Change How Companies Use Social Media in 2016

Pew Research Center – The Demographics of Social Media Users

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MARCH 25, 2016

Marketing Lessons from Bernie and The Donald

FDR used the radio to speak to a nation with his fireside chats.  John F. Kennedy took advantage of television to display his charm and good looks.  Barack Obama used the Internet to break down communication barriers and be accessible to minority groups and young voters often untouched by political campaigning.  Looking back, these strategies seem like no-brainers.  However, in their time, these approaches were questioned and even criticized.  The lesson – those who learn to embrace the media environment of the time WIN.  The trend continues … as we see both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders innovatively using social media and finding success in the 2016 Presidential Election campaign process.  Political ad spending is to reach an astonishing $11.5 billion.  Spending on social media is estimated to account for more than half of the $1 billion budget for digital media.

So – how does a reality TV star/billionaire businessman and a 74-year old anti-establishment Senator find themselves taking prominent positions in the 2016 race?  Simply put, they both learned how to connect with people … and using social media to do just that is a big part of their strategy.

If you logged onto Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram, you have probably seen Bernie’s #FeeltheBerncampaign slogan.  According to Winnie Wong, digital strategist for the Sanders campaign, the goal was “to find something that would carry his name all across the Internet and be more than just a hashtag.”  Wong describes the Internet as a “way you can express yourself in a very democratic way” and describes the strategy to bring people together to discuss and promote Sanders policies, platform, and 40 years of dedicated service.  Many experts attribute Sanders’ social media success to his authenticity – noting that he often writes his own posts and tweets.  Bernie said of his own posts, “Usually, it’s in the shower where something pops into my head.”  With millions of online followers and over $96 million in campaign donations coming mostly in small amounts less than $200 per donation, his social media connection appears to be working and is in large part responsible for the success of Sander’s “political revolution.”

And what of Donald Trump?  He has millions of followers on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, and Instagram.  He uses Periscope and YouTube. His own personal view is that he “understands social media maybe better than anybody else,” even calling himself “the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters.”  He often tweets personal things about himself and his family and frequently thanks his supporters.  He participates in gossip and popular culture.  The result – many feel like he is “one of them.”  They believe he is more in-touch with them than other politicians.  Just like Sanders, Trump has found success in connecting with people.

Is there a lesson here for financial institutions?  Can financial institutions build an emotional connection with customers and therefore build a relationship?  Experts say yes – but many believe there may need to be a “rediscovery of social media”.  Many financial institutions rushed to social media without having a well thought-out strategy – or any strategy at all.  The result – many financial institutions have abandoned twitter, Facebook, and other social media venues.  Banks and Credit Unions have always spent considerable time and money on print ad strategies, considering things like demographics, circulations, and costs.  A similar strategic approach must be taken with the digital field …  with care taken to leverage analytics, add elements such as video and social feeds, and give customers mobile options they crave.  It is simply another way to connect with people.  Your strategy and authentic approach can be your game-changer …. Just like it has been for Donald and Bernie.  And remember – those who learn to embrace the media environment of the time WIN.

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FEBRUARY 23, 2016

5 Steps to Building a Better Organization with CLASS

Care

– Because somebody has to. Show up. Be invested. Clean up after yourself. Clean up after someone else. Don’t settle. Act like it matters because it does (and if it doesn’t, move on to what does).

Learn

– The opportunities to improve yourself have never been greater, and the cost to do so has never been lower. Perhaps more importantly, the cost of not doing so is higher than ever. Good enough will not be good enough for long.

Act

– Do something! Learning is worth little without application. Caring is worthless if you keep it to yourself. Give yourself permission to make a difference, then do it.

Share

– Be generous. Teach, mentor, and invite others to do the same. You’ll never get more out of others than when you give of yourself.

Start again

– It is an exhausting process, but it is the most satisfying and sustainable way to build up an organization, a family, a friendship, or even an individual.

H/T Seth (thanks for the daily inspiration)

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FEBRUARY 17, 2016

The Mobile Juggernaut

How quickly things have changed for Facebook! As this write-up mentions, just a couple of years ago, this was a company that was struggling to transition its mobile presence.

In Case You Had Any Doubts

Recent business headlines include one that is worth paying attention to:

80% OF FACEBOOK’S AD DOLLARS COME FROM MOBILE

FACEBOOK’S MOBILE PUSH CONTINUES TO PAY OFF: THE COMPANY REPORTED $4.5 BILLION IN MOBILE AD REVENUE DURING ITS QUARTERLY EARNINGS CALL.

How quickly things have changed for Facebook! As this write-up mentions, just a couple of years ago, this was a company that was struggling to transition its mobile presence.

Welcome to this pace of technological change – where change has been the fastest that we have ever witnessed.  So far.  Technological change itself is increasing at an astronomical pace. We have no concept yet what will be invented and what will be brand new in a very short time horizon of the future.

The Emergence of Mobile

But back to “mobile” – a word that is fraught with so many meanings and connotations today.  A truly mobile world is not inconceivable anymore. That vision has turned into reality.  It doesn’t matter what the industry is.  If leaders and managers are not thinking “mobile first”, they very well could be last. They could conceivably even be extinct before long. That’s how fast things are happening.

In today’s world, mobile devices outnumber people, and smartphones are spreading like wildfire. So, for any type or size of business, they better be asking themselves these questions – what is the impact of mobile usage to us? And how do we use this incredible adoption rate to our benefit?

Mobile Advertising

Let’s have a look at one avenue for businesses to evaluate, namely mobile advertising and connecting with your customers on their mobile devices.

A little history lesson from not so far back, this picture to the right shows you what used to be known as “mobile advertising”.

Joking aside, advertising expenditures, once driven by TV and print, are being funneled increasingly into our digital and our handhelds. And why not?

After all, mobile web traffic now surpasses that of all desktops globally and as a matter of fact, it did not even take that long to happen.

According to eMarketer, the mobile tipping point will occur this year when mobile ad spending exceeds desktop ad spending for the first time ever.

[You can and should read the full article here: Mobile Will Account for 72% of US Digital Ad Spend by 2019].

Then, when you see the kind of results that a company like Facebook reported, you know that this trend is very real.

Meanwhile, at Banks and Credit Unions

Financial institutions have been going through their own transformative times, just as technology has.  But wait, technology has something to do with this transformation!  Among the trends we are seeing:

• A continued shift and priority to all things digital

• More digital = more cybersecurity awareness and measures

• Acknowledging that a digital omni-channel presence is key to customer connection and retention, and doing something about it

• Using data analytics, cut and sliced in many ways, in order to personalize customer experiences while increasing customer loyalty, banking income and competitiveness.

• Mobility!

Since the focus of this write-up is mobile, here’s a great statistic that shows the sheer opportunity available for financial institutions of all sizes to leverage:

> 42% of all US adults who own a mobile device have never used it for mobile banking. <

[Note that this statistic is dynamic and a fast-moving target; it may very well be out of date soon].

Not only is there a great opportunity for financial institutions to increase penetration of mobile banking with existing customers, but there is significant untapped potential for “native” advertising (like Facebook does) where a financial institution can use personalized and targeted advertising to really connect with customers wherever they are banking – at a branch, online, or mobile when they are on the go.

According to one industry analyst, financial institutions have already seen the peak of spending occur on compliance and regulatory matters. Now, they see a refocus on winning back customers and increasing their business footprint with them by making investments in digital channels, mobile and branch transformation.  So, in case you had any doubts, it’s still not too late to think mobile, think mobility first!

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JANUARY 28, 2016

Tell Your Company’s Story!

So what does storytelling have to do with your business? Everything! As a company in this social media age, you have an opportunity to draw devoted customers by rethinking the way you express your company’s core value. If you can’t properly convey a story then your products are not going to appeal to your audience. Research shows with all the advertising messages overwhelming us all that a story can cut through the noise. Your story needs to have a message that is a clear takeaway for your listeners. You want those that are reading the story to become emotionally invested in the story and to leave them longing for more. If you give too many details readers/customers get lost in the details and don’t find the emotional tie to the story.

As a business owner or marketer you need to have many stories in your toolkit. Stories about your leaders and their values. You need stories that bring your vision to life. Stories that pack the most punch are personal ones. Your real value is about what you believe in, what you’re trying to do in the world and how you make others’ lives better. These stories ring true! Use language that speaks from the heart. You can’t engage your customers using industry slang. Also post these stories/video’s on your “About Us” page on your website. This is an ideal place to start telling your story. Stories grab our attention, change minds and attitudes and inspire us. Well told stories make you trustworthy and encourage others to want to collaborate with you. Your delivery may not be perfect but no one is looking for perfection. Your customers are looking to be engaged, inspired and to be entertained. With that being said, what’s your story?

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JANUARY 27, 2016

A Beginner’s Look at UX Design

Have you ever tried to use something – anything, a website, an app, an appliance, a service – and found it so complex, so non-intuitive, or so utterly frustrating that you finally gave up?

“Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

– Albert Einstein

Have you ever tried to use something – anything, a website, an app, an appliance, a service – and found it so complex, so non-intuitive, or so utterly frustrating that you finally gave up? Similarly, have you ever tried to use something so presumably easy but over-simplified to the point that you could not figure out how to make it do what you wanted that it created the same frustration and, again, you gave up? Poor user experience (UX) design is likely to blame. Comedian Brian Regan illustrates this perfectly:

Conversely, think of the last time you used an app or a service that you really enjoyed, or that simply worked the way you expected the very first time. Think about your favorite restaurant, your favorite store, or your favorite app. What is it that you love about them? What makes them your favorites? Chances are, a lot of that has to do with the positive, easy-to-use, hassle-free, and/or delightful experiences associated with each. In other words, good UX design made a difference.

The term “UX” is everywhere these days. So what exactly is UX design, and why should you care? Well let’s begin with what UX is not.

1. UX is not new. UX as a field or a career by itself may be somewhat new, but a lot of the principles and practices associated with it have been around for decades.

2. UX is not UI. This is a common misperception. User Interface (UI) design is an important part of UX design, but it is only part and a small one.

3. UX is not research and interviews. Certainly those are key to effective UX, but as with UI, they are only part of the UX design process.

4. UX is not statistics or strategy, interaction design or information architecture, copywriting or creating personas. See where I’m going?

5. UX is none of those things…alone.

6. UX is not complicated, though it can be complex.

7. UX is not easy to do well (but nothing worthwhile ever is).

8. The great news is, UX is not difficult to learn, and there are a plethora of resources available (I’ve listed many below).

Now let’s focus for a moment on what UX is. In the “UX is not UI” article referenced above, Erik Flowers defines UX design as “the intangible design of a strategy that brings us to a solution.” UX design is the umbrella that pulls all of those other elements together into a final solution that provides the best experience possible for the end user.

In his book The Elements of User Experience, UX design expert Jesse James Garret defined user experience as “the experience the product creates for the people that use it in the real world.” He goes on to then define “user-centered design” as “the practice of creating engaging, efficient user experiences […by taking…] the user into account every step of the way as you develop your product.”

UX design is about caring. It involves strategy and structure, research and personas, mockups and prototyping, visual design and testing, and more all with the same focus: caring about your end users enough to make the experience of using your product or service effective, engaging, and delightful. It is powerful and a differentiator that can set your brand apart. In other words, it makes everything for your user as wonderful and as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Want to learn more about UX design? Here are a few places to start:

• A classic (from March 2000!), Jesse James Garrett’s The Elements of User Experience chart provides a clean visual understanding of what goes into his 5 elements of UX (strategy, scope, structure, skeleton, and surface). Check out the whole book for a more details. The 2nd edition was updated in 2010, and it all still applies today.

• UXPin – this company has software to promote (with which I have no affiliation), but they have produced dozens of FREE ebooks on UX, UI, web, mobile, typography, and many other subjects to educate and assist you in your UX design process. Great resource!

• Be inspired by Jared Spool’s “$300,000,000 Button”

• And check out these sites for all the latest on UX:

• http://uxmag.com/

• http://www.uxmatters.com/index.php

• https://www.nngroup.com/articles/

• https://www.smashingmagazine.com/category/uxdesign/

• https://www.uie.com/

Marketing Musings 2015 (ARCHIVE)

NOVEMBER 23, 2015

How can music explain targeted marketing?

Targeting or understanding differences in your audience can help your FI in many ways. It helps you keep up with their ever changing life cycles, life stages, needs, socioeconomics, spending habits of your customers and so on.

Targeting or understanding differences in your audience can help your FI in many ways. It helps you keep up with their ever changing life cycles, life stages, needs, socioeconomics, spending habits of your customers and so on. That, in turn, gives you insight into how to communicate, build relationships, aid in retention, meet their expectations and yes even how to market to them.

If you were a musician (and I’m a keyboard player and composer), you tailor your music and performance to your audience. You even pay attention to the order of the songs in a show, for the best response, which is known as the elusive “Set List”. That can even change based on audience reactions throughout the performance.

The best way to demonstrate this theory is as follows. Some people listen to country music, some to classical, some R & B, Blues, Rock, you name it…but you get the picture. It’s a diverse world. So as an entertainer, I always try to play the style they like. Hence, I’m targeting via their musical tastes. And if I didn’t, they won’t enjoy the show or come back again. That’s when my audience retention would go down and they would look for other talent. There you have it…proof of the importance and potency of targeting your message, services and of course your music.

Keeping this in mind, you can now focus on how to make messages relevant to your diverse base of account holders and to follow their changes over time. It also enlightens you on how to make your follow-up and touch points more relevant. Listen to your customer and utilize that information in your message, communications and delivery. Also, keep an eye on reactions to your message as your customer changes.

I actually do speaking engagements called “Keynote Concerts” for the Financial Industry making this point via my piano playing. So, you might want to consider that for your next conference. It can apply to management, customer service, selling and more. It’s not your typical session…Just saying! Contact me at desi@deeptarget.com for more info.

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NOVEMBER 23, 2015

The Parable of the Pot Roast: A Cooking Lesson

As the Holiday Season begins, memories of family, friends, and long-standing traditions capture our thoughts.  Growing up in the South, cooking has always been a big part of any celebration. I am reminded of a story I once heard about a young mother teaching her daughter how to prepare a “Sunday roast.”  After chopping vegetables and seasoning the roast perfectly, the mother chopped the top third off the roast and discarded it.  The curious young daughter ask her mom the reason and she paused and responded, “I’m not sure.  Nana always did that – so I do too.”  Still not satisfied, the young girl went to Nana who offered the same response, “That is the way my mom (your Great-Grand) always did it.”  Still curious and determined to understand why anyone would waste a perfectly good part of the roast, the girl went to see Great-Grand for a “final answer.”  Great-Grand, now ninety-six, threw her head back and laughed, saying, “Are they really doing that?  I only did that because we had one roasting pan and the entire roast would not fit!”  This makes me think about how many times we repeat the same processes, behaviors, attitudes, or thoughts – without question – because that is the way things have always been done.

A couple of weeks ago, Amazon introduced a sweeping collection of new cloud computing services that lets you manage tremendous amounts of data without setting up your own expensive and expansive infrastructure.  While Amazon Web Services is less than ten years old, Deutsche Bank estimates its worth at $160 billion, more valuable than Intel!  Amazon did not get there by doing what has always been done – by cutting the end off of the roast.  They could have followed suit and bought infrastructure hardware, networking equipment, storage, processing power, data analytic tools, databases, etc. from the likes of Dell, EMC, Cisco, HP, and others.  However, Amazon, like other Internet giants Google and Facebook, had simply grown to such a large size … so it was simply too expensive.  So – what did they do?  They built their own solution – their own servers, their own storage, their own databases, and other software for managing information across all the hardware.  And then they did a truly remarkable thing … they shared it by offering the world’s largest cloud computing operation to many businesses to run their software and store their data.

They could have certainly kept “cutting the end off of the roast” – but instead, Amazon chose the more innovative and curious approach, asking “why not” and “why can’t we?”  As a result of this type of thinking, their stock has doubled in value in 2015, when the overall market – including technical companies – have been … well … flat.

So, as you develop your forward-looking strategies that will launch you into a new year and a promising future, be challenged to think beyond the typical and the “way it has always been done.”  Be innovative and don’t simply “cut the end off of the roast!”

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OCTOBER 27, 2015

I Never Thought About It Until I Was Mugged!

I recently heard the term “frictionless” used to describe an experience that is simply integrated into a person’s daily life, one that we don’t have to plan for, train for, or go too far out of our way to use.  I associate frictionless experiences with worry-free, easy things to do.  As technology advances, online and mobile experiences are becoming more and more “frictionless” – but are they really free from worry?  We may think so – until we have reason to believe otherwise.  I mean, I never worried about using an ATM at night until that one time when, as a college student, I left the ATM only to have a scary dude stretch out his hand for my $20.  You better believe that I paid much more attention to my surroundings from that point forward!

It occurred to me that this is precisely what banks and credit unions are seeking:  a superior (frictionless) user experience that integrates with my daily life and is both secure and private. No scary dudes!  For the first time ever, mobile banking volume surpassed online banking in 2014.  Bank of America recently reported a 24% increase in weekly mobile check depositing over 2014 numbers.  And, Bloomberg Business reports that 52% of all consumers have accessed some form of mobile banking in the past 6 months.

Credit Unions and Banks will not compromise when it comes to security for their mobile and online banking – and they continue to make my environments safer with technologies like touch identification, fraud analytics, enhanced authentication practices, and future biometric-based security practices.  However, there are things that a responsible mobile banker can do to further ensure protection.  Just like I learned that it was not a good idea to go to an ATM at night and alone, there are things that we can learn to keep ourselves safe in the digital world.  Here are a few:

1. Make sure your mobile device automatically locks after a short period of inactivity – and requires a password to unlock.

2. Install a phone tracking app like Apple’s “Find My iPhone” or Google’s “Device Manager.”

3. Don’t store your passwords on your phone.  Memorize them!  Always logout of your mobile banking applications and do not have your browser remember passwords.

4. Secure your smartphone with anti-malware and ensure you keep the software current.  This is kind of like taking a friend to the ATM.

5. Secure your connection on public hotspots.  Make sure the network is the actual one you intend to hop on.  It is easy to “name” a network.  Is Marriott_wifi or Hotel_wifi_guest the one supplied by your trusted hotel?   One could really be a “scary dude.”  Make sure you turn off sharing and protect your passwords and private information.

6. Still review your bank statements – looking for any evidence of fraud.

While our banks and credit unions will continue to be uncompromising and trustworthy, it is also my responsibility to be smart in a digital world that contains some of the same lurking hazards as in my physical world.  With a little extra precaution, we can avoid those “scary dudes.”

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OCTOBER 26, 2015

The Future Looks Rosy Cloudy

I remember quite clearly the highly strategic and separate “computer room” from my first job as a software programmer.

A Short History

I’m about to sound as ancient as I realize I now am.

I remember quite clearly the highly strategic and separate “computer room” from my first job as a software programmer. Do you recall those specially air conditioned rooms for the monolith computers of yesteryear?

That then evolved into a “server room” in the client-server days of yore. This was further transformed into a “data center”. All this happened over a couple of decades or more of information technology going mainstream.

The Emergence of Cloud

How times have changed because today, we have all kinds of clouds to choose from…

The following is as good a definition of cloud computing as you will find anywhere – it’s basic and clear:

cloud com•put•ing

noun

the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or personal computer.

What’s not clear from this definition is just how impactful and transformative cloud computing has been for information technology. If you are connected to the IT industry in any way, the modern verbiage you are using is actually Hybrid Cloud.

As its name suggests, hybrid cloud is an amalgamation. When a business uses hybrid cloud, all that means is that it is using computing resources that can be from any combination of public cloud (such as Amazon cloud services), private cloud (such as that owned solely by Company ABC) and its own internal data centers.

Hybrid Cloud is fast becoming the reality in organizations, large and small. And no industry is being left behind – including Financial Services, despite all of their unique security and privacy concerns.

The kinds of benefits that organizations are reaping include: flexibility, scalability, cost, and computing opacity for users (so they don’t have to care where the computing horsepower is coming from – they just consume it as they need it).  All of these serve to give a company significant business benefits and competitive advantages.

Cloud Computing for Financial Institutions

Banks and credit unions have been averse to using cloud-based services given their deep concerns for security and privacy.  The consequences of breached privacy or security are enormous, and sometimes earth-shattering for a financial institution.

Yet, despite these concerns, the benefits of a hybrid cloud have breached these defenses.

Now, even credit unions and banks have no choice but to figure out how to take advantage of the hybrid cloud. That’s because technology today has become such an integral and central part of the operations of any organization and it’s hard to ignore the immense benefits of using the cloud.

Ultimately, cloud computing enables speed, agility and innovation. With hybrid cloud (the new nomenclature used in the industry to describe how cloud computing is being deployed), we have entered a new era of elasticity in consuming computing power.

Yes, it’s Taking Off!

You can be sure that the Financial Services industry is not about to be left behind!  Here are some of the early areas where cloud computing is winning over banks and credit unions and the reasons why:

1. Core banking for small to mid-size financial institutions because they are affordable, scalable and turnkey.

2. Cloud-based human resources or human capital management systems because of the availability of complete HR/HCM cloud solutions from companies such as Oracle and SAP.

3. 3rd party credit card and mobile processing systems – because these (such as from Visa and MasterCard) are moving to the cloud with the 3rd parties ensuring security and privacy.

4. In-house application development and testing is being done on the cloud before moving to the internal production environment because it is more cost-effective and elastic. You pay only for the infrastructure that you use.

Last but not least, innovative cloud-based marketing and CRM solutions that integrate with other banking core or application software – because they offer 24×7 digital marketing and sales tools to increase income, customers and loyalty for banks and credit unions. These are filling a huge gap in sales and marketing at these financial institutions.

A Gartner report’s prediction says that by the year 2016 over 60% of financial institutions globally will be consuming and processing most transactions in the cloud.

So, brace yourselves, whether you work for a bank or a credit union, whether you are large or not, the future looks clear – it will be cloud-filled for you too.

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SEPTEMBER 24, 2015

Smart Marketing for Small Business

Most small Businesses struggle with marketing and NO budget.  Here are a few ideas for making the most of your marketing dollars.  First publish GREAT Content. Most people know how important the content is on your website and/or blog. Also, ask for participation from others on your staff especially if writing is not your forte.  There might be people in your office that are full of creative ideas (shall we say).

Create informational/instructional videos.  Often times, “We” (those in an industry) will take for  granted that “everyone knows how to do that” but often times that’s not true.  If you are a financial institution – you can have someone do a video on setting up a household budget or a 401k.  Now everyone should have a budget but too many people do not; as Dave Ramsey would say “tell your money where it should go instead of wondering where it went”. Informational videos are awesome and people love to share them, so they’re a great way to drive up referral traffic and you can share them on your website and social media.

Partner up with other small business to make a larger impact.  Co-branding or Cross Promoting has been around forever and it can be done in many ways.  For a financial institution it can highlight your community involvement and promote your commitment to other small businesses.  Cross promoting could be another business providing you with promotional items to act as give-a-way or prize for some contest. Or as I have seen recently in broadcast/video – showing a new building being erected with the small business owner and their financial institution representative standing side by side. There are all kinds of ways to co-brand/cross promote your businesses together.

Last but certainly NOT least Social Media.  Pew Research reports that 72% of the entire online adult population use social media. 82% of online adults ages 18 to 29 use Facebook, along with 79% of those ages 30 to 49, 64% of those ages 50 to 64 and 48% of those 65 and older. These numbers are just too large to ignore. Social Media is the electronic “Word of Mouth”. Social networking sites and blogs allow followers to “retweet” or “repost” comments. By repeating the message the promotion of a product or business begins.  Social media gives individuals and businesses the ability to interact with one another building a relationship and community on line. It gives customers the ability to express their feelings, ideas, and suggestions freely. It also gives a business the format to introduce new products and services and to get feedback. For a small business social media is probably the most powerful and cost effective tool available. What more can you ask from a marketing campaign but low cost, permanent access to your message and market wide reach…..And at the speed of online!

Concentrating on these three questions and testing ideas, headlines, look and feel, and keeping it simple can greatly increase your conversion rates to leads for your sales team and completed applications.  In the coming months DeepTarget will continue to bring you advice and best practices for landing pages.

Starting today, with DeepTarget’s new Landing Page Engine, you now have a super-easy online tool with rich templates and a wizard-like interface to quickly build effective landing pages that will convert marketing messages to leads, and sales!

Let us know what you think! If you need more information or a demo, do not hesitate to contact us. Just drop us a line at sales@deeptarget.com or support@deeptarget.com.

Social media marketing is a journey, not an event.

You have to:

1. Connect

2. Engage

3. Communicate

4. Keep the Connection Alive

Here are some steps I would recommend that you take in order to begin to establish your social media presence.

There are numerous social networks available today for consideration. Your plan and strategy can start with one and then evolve.

So, let’s start with Facebook.

• Why? Because they have 750 million users today and counting.

• And you have to start somewhere….

So, here are steps you can take to create and establish your presence on Facebook:

1. Create a compelling Facebook page (think of it as your website on Facebook)

2. Attract Facebook users to your page

• Use other marketing channels and Facebook sponsored ads to drive your customers there

• Use interesting games and apps to draw and keep them

• Get them to “like” you (games and apps help!)

• Get them to share your page with their friends (leads!)

• Get them to keep coming back (hint: Use games, offers, prizes)

1. Use targeted marketing to create compelling offers

2. Watch your leads and income grow!

There, that was not so complicated was it?  Of course, it was just an overview and the devil’s absolutely in the detail.

But the good news is that there are marketing agencies and consultants that offer all of the above services – no matter what size business you are, there will be one that fits your size, need, scope and scale.  Therefore, it would be beneficial for you to start looking into them.

BOTTOMLINE: It’s a huge missed opportunity if you are not investing in your social media presence now.

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SEPTEMBER 24, 2015

Go For It!

In a little over a month I’m going to try something that scares me just a little. I’ve signed up for a Spartan Race (www.spartan.com). A lot of groups have sprung up putting on races of this type. They have a lot of different flavors. Some are really dirty (get your mind out of the gutter, think dirt and mud), but some try to keep it clean. Some are all about the competition, and some are all about the teamwork. Some give you a list of obstacles you’ll face; some, like the race I’ll be running, don’t tell you what to expect—and they try to throw in new surprises every year.

Many of the racers I’ll race with will be pushed to the edge of their strength and endurance—and they’ll get really muddy in the process. There will be a number of obstacles, but they won’t tell us how many. I believe it will be more than 10, but less than 20. There will be heavy things to lift and sometimes carry, drag, or flip. There will be crawling and jumping and sliding. There will be hills and ropes and walls and contraptions to climb. And there will be mud, lots of mud. Oh, and to top it all off, at the end, we’ll have to jump over a blazing wall of fire and push our way through some gladiators with pugil sticks who are trying to keep us from the finish line.

You, like me, and my wife, are probably wondering what in the world possessed me when I made the choice several months ago to sign up for this.

There is no feeling in the world like overcoming a challenge. When you set a goal for yourself that is hard to achieve, and then really put your effort into that goal, and then achieve that goal … the feeling is exquisite. And when that accomplishment is a physical accomplishment, it comes with endorphins that really put you on top of the world.

I want to try something hard and I want that feeling that comes from not just trying, but succeeding.

Are you in a rut? Is your marketing or your product in a rut?

If so, find a worthy challenge, set a goal, and GO FOR IT!

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AUGUST 31, 2015

OMNI-CHANNEL: Beyond the Hype

Have you heard of Gartner’s hype cycle? The leading global IT research and advisory company creates hype cycles (shown below) for various technology segments to help clients discern what emerging technologies show promise at a particular point of time, and the opportunities and risks they present.

As part of an overall strategy, it’s easy to imagine CIOs evaluating certain emerging technologies – such as wearables or cloud computing or the Internet of Things, and their potential impact. They would look at their respective stages in the hype cycle to determine whether it is the right time for them to plan for and adopt these technologies, with goals as diverse as improving everyday operations and creating disruptive business innovations.

[FYI, you can click on this link to see the 2015 Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies].

In general today, the more innovations and advances there are, the more pervasive technology is becoming in our everyday lives.

Needless to say, technology is playing a big part in providing the ultimate customer experience across multiple channels. When that experience is seamless across multiple touch points, it is widely referred to as omni-channel.

For a financial institution, when a customer visits a branch or conducts a banking transaction by telephone, online or from their mobile banking app, it is of paramount importance that they receive a smooth and seamless experience.

An omni-channel approach of engagement is not only crucial, it can be a big business differentiator.  We’re not quite there yet, are we? But, today, an increasing number of financial institutions have a focus to create an omni-channel strategy and provide that experience.

So, the question on the omni-channel investment if you are financial institution is not one of “if” but merely one of “when” (as when evaluating technologies in the Gartner Hype Cycle)–

1. Should you make an early move?

2. Is a moderate approach more appropriate for you?

3. Or should you wait it out for a while until the technology matures further?

Beyond the hype, it will pay you forward to have an investment strategy around omni-channel. And sooner or later, it will be necessary – not just to be successful, but even for survival.

I can give it to you in writing here, an omni-channel experience for a customer is much more than a fad. Measurable and positive returns are guaranteed. So, this investment can neither be ignored nor taken lightly.

Recent Posts

• Targeted Look: Trademark Federal Credit Union March 14, 2019

• Luck or Logic? 4 key strategies for a successful digital ad campaignMarch 14, 2019

• Targeted Look: AOD Federal Credit Union February 11, 2019

• How To Keep Them Coming Back To Your Bank Or Credit UnionFebruary 4, 2019

• ROI Resolution January 5, 2019

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AUGUST 18, 2015

It’s All in the Data

Experience is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Like right now, I’m experienced enough to know that in a week or so, I will be feeling a swirl of emotions; everything from extremely proud to downright sorrowful as I drop my second child off at college. How do I know I will feel these things? Well, two years ago at this time of year, I dropped my first child off at college; and I cried all the way through Wyoming and half of Colorado afterward. It doesn’t help that my children keep picking universities that are 1800 miles away from me.

So, what does any of this have to do with marketing? Maybe you’re thinking this is the stuff Hallmark commercials are made of. And while that’s true, I was thinking more along the lines of my bank. You see, my bank knows me and my situation. Starting at the beginning of this year, my bank has sent me several nice little reminders that perhaps I may want to look at their student loan options. They also made it easy for me to set up accounts for both of my daughters that are tied to mine, giving me an easy way to make sure they are taken care of, even though they are miles away from me. And, as an added bonus, they have a branch located on campus.

With the way banking is nowadays, you may never physically see your customer or member, but it still doesn’t mean you can’t know them. Data is a beautiful thing. Use it to your advantage to zero in on what your customers really need and/or want. They will love you for it. Because, don’t we all get tired of seeing the same old ads over and over again for products we will never buy or use?

So, save your customers some tears, whether it be literally or figuratively, and get to know them. It’s all in the data, I promise.

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JULY 20, 2015

Do you have INFLUENCE?

If you can learn how to make an experience comfortable between you and someone else and add something to their world, you will have positive influence. That experience will also keep the door open for future exchanges. This approach could be incorporated in customer service, marketing, sales, managing or any relationship. There is so much information a person generates whether verbally, body language, digital data, actions taken and so on that can be incorporated into your communicative style of delivery.

The delivery of your message becomes adjusted to how a person likes to receive information. If a person talks long enough (or enough data is gathered about their situation), they will tell you how to have impact with them and/or influence. Then targeting is based on what they need and how they will accept a solution.

Remember the phrase “treat someone the way you want to be treated”? Well, I’m saying deliver your message in the way they will receive it (not necessarily your preferred delivery). This applies to all your messages regardless of the channel of delivery.

Three Basic Steps to having Impact or Influence

1. What are the needs or situation? (Questions and data retrieval)

2.  a. How do they like to buy or take an action?

b. How do they communicate (DISC)

c. What drives them (Behavior Pattern)

3. You say, OK!!! (Then show them a solution)

So, if you are marketing a product, want impact or influence, then targeting the data available will be the most conducive way to enhance the relationship. You would never communicate or advertise to Martha Stewart the same way you would to Jimmy Fallon. That’s why one message to all will never be completely successful. Target the person and tailor the message. Then you have INFLUENCE!

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JULY 29, 2015

Know Me or No Me!

Traveling with my eighteen-year-old daughter is a rejuvenating experience. I always end up feeling like I am surrounded by her personal team of trusted advisors. It was no different on a recent trip to the Charlotte area. For dinner, Urbanspoon led the way to the best local Thai cuisine. TripAdvisor and Citysearch pointed us to Knights baseball, a Segway tour (people actually do this), and Young Frankenstein. Would I have really ever found myself rafting down class III rapids and getting the adrenaline rush of the 40-foot hawk jump without the trusted reviews of the U.S. National Whitewater Center by hundreds of my Google cohorts? Most probably not! And then there was Rachel, my daughter’s friend who directed us to the luxurious SouthPark Mall, upon seeing our Instagram location. We were not alone in our adventures – and it felt good. It felt safe.

It is no different with personal banking. I want a financial institution that knows me and makes me feel like they are looking out for me. This same week, the buzz in the Charlotte area was the continued disappearance of Bank of America branches. As I was talking about this, my daughter offered that this makes sense – and that she had only ever been in a branch once, a trip with me to deposit a thousand quarters collected at a St. Jude fundraiser. As I watched her snap a photo of a babysitting check she discovered hidden away in her purse and effortlessly deposit it the same way Bank of America customers do over 200,000 times a day, it occurred to me that the expectation, certainly by my daughter and many of us older guys as well, is that our banking experience should be that same experience we have grown to enjoy in so many other aspects of our life – that self-service (I’m-in-control-of-my-time) experience with a little nudging toward products and services that are a good fit because you know me – the way a good friend, or at least a trusted advisor, knows me. To earn continued customer loyalty, banks and credit unions are challenged to really get to know me – my circumstances, preferences, and tendencies – in order to provide the experience I expect. The simple evolving truth – Know me or no me!

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JUNE 29, 2015

Newsletter … Anyone … Anyone?

One of the best ways you can communicate with your customers is with a newsletter, but yet it is one of the most underutilized tools in our marketing plans. A Newsletter gives us a captive audience and it can cut out the noise that a website, Facebook page, or Twitter can sometimes create. There are four steps to creating a powerful email newsletter, building your email address list, creating content, designing an attractive look and feel for all screen sizes, and determining the right frequency.

First up, with today’s technology, it’s easy to build an email list for your newsletter. How, you ask? Look to your website. You should have a sign up form front and center, you can even have it be a landing page that comes up when visitors visit your website. You may even consider offering an incentive for people to sign up. Incentives can be anything from a service, like three months free for a lockbox, to a freebee like a t-shirt. Just make sure you use a double opt-in method to gather these contacts, to ensure you do not damage your relationship with your customers.

So, now that you have your list, what kind of content should your newsletter contain? The obvious answer is your product. And of course, promoting your products is important. But it is also important that you don’t only push your product. Offer helpful tips and advice. Entertain them. We all love to be entertained. You don’t need to be a comedian, but humor can go a long way.

What about design?  Think mobile and tablets. Your newsletter should be mobile friendly. No one in their right mind is going to want to read your full blown newsletter on a tiny three inch screen or smaller. Your design should also have some continuity and should reflect your brand. Invest some time and money in a good template and header. It will be well worth the cost.

Last, but not least, let’s talk about frequency. This is dependent on what you have to say. Don’t feel like you have to send out a monthly newsletter. It can be quarterly. Again, do what works best for your institution. And remember, people don’t like their inbox to be inundated, but don’t go so long in between that they forget about you.

Now go forth and create greatness, or at least a fabulous newsletter. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.

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MAY 29, 2015

Elements of the Perfect Targeted Marketing Campaign

Targeted Marketing Works! It’s something we all know now, right?

But then we try it, and we just don’t feel like it’s as effective as the research seems to suggest. The problem with targeted marketing, like almost anything in life that brings great value, is that there are easy ways to do it and there are hard ways. And usually, the most effective ways are in the “hard” category.

In order to target effectively, we cannot just take our customer base, maybe purchase some demographic data to give us additional insights, segment and target our customers based on what we know about them and our products … and then call it done.

In order to effectively use targeted marketing, we must find the right target audience for our product and then intelligently separate that audience into subsegments based on attributes like age, gender, marital status, family status, etc. and then design messages and visual presentations that are targeted to each of those subsegments.

First and foremost, effective targeted marketing requires that we find the right audience for the product we want to market. We can use data we have, demographic data we’ve purchased, statistical analysis, and last but not least, our own personal understanding and intuition.

Once we have identified the right audience, the next step is to separate them into meaningful subsegments, based on attributes like age, gender, marital and family status, etc. and design a targeted message for each. A very young audience might get a message that focuses on product features that appeal to a young audience and use language that is young and fun. An older audience might get a message that focuses on different product features and uses language that is more formal and informative. These targeted messages will result in the maximum level of interest.

But wait, we’re not done. We’ve found the right audience, created the right targeted messages, but it’s still true that we as human beings are very visual creatures. We’ve heard our whole lives that we can’t judge a book by its cover, but we can’t help ourselves, because that is how our brains work. We make many of our judgements about the world around us based on what we see. The visual appeal of an ad is probably even more important than finding the right audience and creating the right targeted message, because our audience may never read the message and find out this product is perfect for them if our ad doesn’t visually grab them.

And despite the fact that we’ve all grown up with one size fits all marketing imagery, where marketers just try to make an image that will appeal to everyone, including elements for as many segments as they can, we know that what appeals to a nineteen year old female is likely going to be very different than what appeals to a forty-five year old mother of two, not to mention what will appeal to the sixty-nine year old retired man.

Creating a visual presentation that is targeted to each segment will dramatically increase the odds that our target audience actually reads the targeted message we’ve created for them and finds out how perfect our product is for them.

*Including all of these elements in your targeted marketing campaign takes effort, but in the end, this is how effective targeted marketing is done.

Try it.

Your bottom line will thank you.

*One word of warning. You will want to ensure you avoid being too heavy handed in your targeting and personalization. Going overboard will, instead of resonating with your target audiences, feel like you’re stalking them. Create messages and visual presentations that will appeal to them, based on what you know about them, but maintain a professional distance.  

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MAY 27, 2015

Marketing for Retention

In designing your marketing strategies most everyone wants to talk about winning that new customer, which is important, but let’s talk, in my opinion, about one of the most important parts of marketing – How do we retain the customers we have?

Customer retention is more than giving the customer what they expect, it’s about exceeding their expectations. Retention is often times the most important part of our marketing and the most overlooked. If we are doing all the right things to bring that new customer in but not doing the right things to retain them we are creating a revolving door. Retention allows us the opportunity to service our customers and meet their needs. It is also our opportunity to make “fans” out of our existing customers; so that they tell their friends about the awesome place they shop or bank. Customer retention has a direct impact on profitability. Some research has indicated that engaged customers generate 1.7 times more revenue than normal customers, while having engaged employees and engaged customers returns a revenue gain of 3.4 times the norm. Retention with both employees and customers is vital. Marketing for retention is marketing outside the BIG box. For a financial institution it might look like serving in your local school system teaching young people how to devise a household budget and the importance of saving or setting up classes or online webinars for newlyweds – teaching them ways to work together financially or working with your local community college teaching young adults how important setting up an IRA can be.

Lastly, are we educating our customers on ALL the services we offer? If someone is doing business with you already, they are the prime customer to market your additional services to; they trust you! Marketers should now see customer retention as a priority instead of a secondary strategy. The key to effective retention lies in understanding and anticipating the needs of our customers and your employees. Setting a strategy for successful customer retention is the first step.

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APRIL 28, 2015

Taking Flight

I’m heading into a unique time period in my life–the time where our children are leaving the nest and becoming adults. This is all well and good, and apparently it is the natural order of things. I remember what seemed like a millennia ago, when I did the same thing, but it was a lot more exciting than watching my own children do it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for my children. They will do wonderful things in life, of that I have no doubt, but as a mom, it is hard to let go. It is hard to realize that I no longer call the shots (at least most of them).

I guess what I’m trying to say is, sometimes, or a lot of times, we have to let go. We have to let those around us fly. Yes, there will be crashes and burns, but that’s when we learn and grow and when great things end up happening. We have to remember that though we have great experience and wisdom to pass on, that they have to gain their own. We can still be that safe landing, if needed, but remember that landings don’t get in the way.

Not only does this apply personally, but applies professionally too. I think it’s easy to get caught up in experience. We don’t want to let go of the way things have always been done. Or we don’t want to give up control. There can be good reasons for those decisions, but ask yourself, are there new ideas that could be successful that you’re ignoring? Or are you discounting others’ ideas because of your own experiences, not realizing that others have different experiences or perhaps need to gain experience?

So perhaps for you, like me, it’s time to let go a little. Let others around us take flight. Be the safe landing place when perhaps things don’t go as planned (they often don’t). You never know, you could have the next Steve Jobs on your hands.

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MARCH 30, 2015

Stepping Aside

This past week my kids had spring break. I find the older my kids get, the more I look forward to their school breaks. I enjoy the less structured and casual days. I had to work most of the week, but decided to take Friday off to enjoy with them. And on a whim I decided to take my daughter to Nashville while my husband took our son camping. Nashville isn’t a huge getaway from where we live in Alabama, but it is a place we really enjoy and it was a break from the mundane. It gave me the opportunity to step out of “real” life for just a day and recharge my batteries.

I came home from our short, yet very fun trip and found myself being able to conquer a task that had been looming and I wasn’t sure how to approach it. My creative energy had been restored by just that small step outside of my regular life.

So what does all of this mean to you? Perhaps nothing, but for what it’s worth, here’s my take:

Sometimes instead of just pushing through, we need to take a step back, or maybe just to the side. This allows us to look at problems and situations with new eyes, instead of the tired ones we’ve been using to focus so hard at the task at hand. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we just have to push through to the finish, but we should learn to recognize those times when we need to step aside for just a moment; especially if we are stuck on a problem.

I’m not saying this is a cure-all and it will solve every issue, but I can say I don’t think it would hurt to give it a try. And if anything, those around you may appreciate a happier, recharged you.

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MARCH 27, 2015

4 Questions to Keep You Focused

Looking for a fun way to waste some time (how’s that for a start to a post about focusing?)  Then check out www.nationaldaycalendar.com where you can see official and not-so-official holidays for every day and month of the year.  March is diverse being both National Peanut Month and National Umbrella Month and includes Dr. Suess Day (March 2nd), Pi Day (March 14), St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), and World Backup Day (March 31), just to name a few.  Some people love Dr. Suess, some love pi(e), some love both.  Some people like walking in the rain, some cannot be in the same room as a peanut, some couldn’t care less about St. Patrick.

Your customer base is the same, and even more diverse than the ever-growing list of national days.  If your marketing efforts are always trying to connect with everybody  at once you are almost certainly bound to connect with nobody.  Campaigns should be focused and targeted to the appropriate audience with an offer that will benefit them in a way they want to benefit.  On March 2nd, my campaign will be tailored to Dr. Suess fans, but on March 25, it will be targeted to Tolkien fans.

So as you run through the spring cleaning of your current and upcoming campaigns, ask the following 4 questions to be sure they are as focused and targeted as they can be:

1. Who?

• Who are you trying to reach?  Who would benefit from this product/service?  Who is qualified?  Who is not?

2. Why?

• Why do you want to target this group/individual?  Why would they care?  Why do you?

3. What?

• What do you want them to do?  What steps should they take?  Is it simple?  Is it clear?  What incentive do they have to respond?  What’s in it for them?  What’s in it for you?

4. How?

• How do they accomplish what you are asking them?  Is it simple?  Is it clear?  How will you follow up?  How will you measure the success of the campaign?

Focus on your customers as individuals, target your campaigns to them based on their needs, and you will earn their respect, their trust, and very likely their business.  And that is something worth celebrating.

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FEBRUARY 25, 2015

A Little Song and Dance

What if every time a problem came your way you sang a little song and did a little dance?  What if you smiled your biggest and thanked the universe?  What if you ran instead of walked, skipped instead of slouched, laughed instead of cried?  The snow is going to fall anyway, the temperature will drop regardless, some customers will complain no matter what, so come what may and love it.

There is a whole lot outside of your control, and more than enough reasons to feel like shouting, or fighting, or throwing a fit and throwing in the towel.  But a little song and a little dance could make all the difference.

(H/T Seth Godin)

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FEBRUARY 25, 2015

What’s your Badger?

Last summer I lost one of the greatest, most influential men in my life, my grandfather. The following quote by James Earl Jones sums him up quite nicely – “More and more, when I single out the person who inspired me the most, I go back to my grandfather.”

He was the kind of man that never met a stranger and he would give you the shirt off his back and his last coin if you needed it. Not only was he kind, but he was funny. He also had his trademarks. For years and years he was known as the candy man. He never left the house without pockets full of candy. Every kid and even adult knew this. His candy of choice was Tootsie Rolls. All you had to do to get a piece was say the magic word, “Badger.” It sounds strange I know, but you wouldn’t believe how many people in Denver, Colorado that knew the magic word. Again, he never met a stranger.

One particular memory I will never forget was a couple of summers of ago when we were visiting, he was so sick from the cancer that was ravaging his body and he could barely eat. I asked him what I could get for him. He requested a chocolate milk shake from Jim’s Burger Haven (they make the best by the way). I hurried on my way to get him one, but before I could leave, he handed me a handful of Tootsie Rolls and told me to pass them out to those that would serve me there. I felt I little strange doing it, but I couldn’t deny him his request. Once my order was taken, I held out my hand with the candy and immediately the server knew who they were from and she asked how he was. She also said, “Badger.“

Those small pieces of candy and his kindness were his trademarks. He wasn’t a man of fortune or fame, but he left his mark. And believe me, he is sorely missed.

So my question to you is, what is your trademark? Do you have one personally or professionally? How do you make your customers feel? If you no longer provided your services, would they be missed? When they interact with you, do they leave feeling better for it?

Just some things to think about. Now go find your “Badger.”

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JANUARY 28, 2015

What Will You Choose?

Happy New Year!  I love the start of a new year and the idea that anything and everything is possible.  It’s a great time to let go, to recommit, and to choose what I want to accomplish.

Speaking of choices, when it comes to marketing technology, there are a plethora of tools out there.  Last year, Scott Brinker put together a visual image of all the marketing technology solutions and providers he could find.  It included 947 different companies!  Well he’s done it again, and this year has nearly doubled! Check out the graphic above which includes 1,876 companies in 43 categories, and read more about it on his website.

With so many choices out there the possibilities for your business really are endless. So where will you go this year?  What will you do?  Who will you become?  What will you choose?

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JANUARY 28, 2015

You Get What You Give

Social Media is everywhere. It’s not just a buzzword anymore. It’s more like a way of life, or at least how we seem to communicate in life. Heck, even my eighty-one year old grandma is on Facebook, and that’s how she keeps us all updated on her life. Don’t get me wrong, I still call dear grandma, but for every day communication, Facebook is it.

Of course social media is not just for personal communication, it’s also a great way for businesses to connect to their customers and or other businesses. You can create a great symbiotic relationship if you are willing to put in the effort. What I mean by that is, you get what you give in the social media arena.

First of all, you will need to do your research. Follow those that closely align to your goals and purposes on hand. Not only follow them, but reach out personally to them through direct or private messaging. Once you have established a relationship, you will need to take the time to see what posts or advertising they are sharing. Be a good friend and follower, by commenting, sharing, or retweeting. Believe me, most will be willing to do the same for you in return. Again, you get what you give.

Believe me I know this sounds easier said than done. It will take effort and constant attention, but the fruits of your labors will be sweet. So go out there and get social!

Marketing Musings 2014 (ARCHIVE)

NOVEMBER 25, 2014

Black Friday Marketing Story

Black Friday seems to be a term that both delights and incites people. It has been true even before the term was associated with the shopping craze we all think of now.

Black Friday seems to be a term that both delights and incites people. It has been true even before the term was associated with the shopping craze we all think of now. The term was coined by the Philadelphia Police Department in the 1960’s. They used it to describe the chaos that ensued the day after Thanksgiving due to shoppers taking advantage of the first holiday sales. That weekend all officers were to be on duty and they hoped the term would deter shoppers. The term has also been associated with the fact that so many workers used to call in sick the day after Thanksgiving, prompting many businesses to make it a company holiday. By the 1980’s it was used to describe the start of when retailers go from being in the red to into the black.

Still today it has both positive and negative connotations, especially in recent years when retailers are choosing to open on Thanksgiving to get a jump on those sales. Social media is jammed with petitions and posts pleading with shoppers to boycott such activities. Despite the cry about the social injustice of it all, the trend continues. Retailers have been successful in overcoming the backlash that has been ever present across every form of media. Shoppers are still flocking to the stores earlier and earlier in search of promised deals.

Whether you agree or not with the tactics or trends, Black Friday or now Thursday isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Not with so much at stake for retailers. Some retailers can make twenty percent of their profits for the year during Black Friday.

So the question is even with so much negativity how are retailers still thriving in this environment. It’s simple … they’re giving the consumer what they want. And in the end, for any business, that’s the key. Give your customers what they want. Of course that’s easier said than done, but if you want to be successful, that’s the price that must be paid. It’s the only thing that will ensure your bottom line is always black instead of red.

And just so you know, on Black Friday, you will find me at home slumbering peacefully with perhaps visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all!

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NOVEMBER 25, 2014

Why I am Thankful for Apples

1. Pie – I love all kinds of pie (a lot), but there is nothing like a warm slice of sweet apple crumb pie made with tart Granny Smith apples and a scoop of smooth vanilla ice cream for dessert.

2. Sauce, butter, bread, juice, cider – you name it, you can make it with an apple.

3. Pie – did I already mention this?

4. An apple a day…

5. Variety – big, little, sweet, tart, crisp, soft, red, yellow or green. Did you know there are over 7,000 types of apples?

Ideas are like apples. There are a million varieties, and you can make anything you can imagine with them. But just like apples, if you sit them on a shelf for too long, they will rot, and some ideas will grow old and die. Fortunately, unlike apples, most ideas can be brought back to life if given the opportunity.

Apples are meant to be eaten. Ideas are meant to be shared. What will you share with the world this coming year?

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OCTOBER 29, 2014

An Artist Cannot Fail

“True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.” ―Albert Einstein

This is my new favorite quote. And it must be true if Einstein said it. As I recall, he was a pretty smart guy. But more importantly, I know from personal experience that it’s true. I also believe we are all artists, but the key is finding what type of artist you are. How does your art take form? Once you figure that out, you’ve unlocked the key to success.

When my husband and I were first married, and just starting out in the world, my uncle told us to find careers where we loved what we were doing. He said if we did that, we would be successful. And you know what? He was right.

Sometimes, it can take a long time to figure out what our art is. For some of us, it doesn’t come naturally, per se. For some of us our art isn’t obvious like singing, or dancing or even designing software. It may take years to discover our hidden talent or art, but it is worth the wait. Just make sure to make the most of it once it emerges.

And remember that success and monetary rewards don’t always go hand in hand. You can find success in your art without ever making a dime. And who can really put a price on happiness?

And remember…”An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.” – Charles Horton Cooley

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OCTOBER 29, 2014

How Do You Handle Adversity?

I love BYU.  I had an incredible experience there, got an excellent education, and am a fan for life.  I also love college athletics, so my Cougars were giving me all I could wish for when the football team started the season 4-0 with a serious Heisman Trophy contender at quarterback in Taysom Hill.

Then game 5 came along.  We were getting beat decisively at home early in the game, but with our quarterback a comeback was not only a hope but real possibility.  After all, it was only the 2nd quarter.  That’s when the unthinkable happened.  Hill was tackled at an awkward angle, and just like that, a season-ending injury knocked him out of the game.  Four games later, the Cougars are 4-4, all Playoff, New Years Day Bowl Game, and Heisman Trophy hopes dashed.  Perhaps the saddest part is the fact that the offense has continued to produce (if not as prolifically), averaging almost 30 points per game since Hill’s injury.  There are problems, but the way the defense has fallen apart has been the most glaring weakness of the past 4 games.

The last few weeks have given me plenty of reasons to give up on the Cougars, to call it a season and move on, but I haven’t and I won’t.  I am a fan!  Sure I wish they were winning, I wish our starting quarterback was playing, and I wish there was more to cheer about, but I’m in for the long haul.  The team hasn’t given up, so neither will I.  BYU as an institution took care of me and earned my loyalty, and they are still giving me reasons to be loyal.

Do your customers feel the same way about you and your institution?  Have you put the time and effort into building loyalty so that when adversity comes they will stick around?

Perhaps the single best way to handle adversity is to take care of your customers before it comes.  Seamless customer experience is all the rage now, and with social media and the interconnected nature of just about everything and everyone, a single problem can become a mountain of issues if the customer isn’t getting the experience he or she expects, both off- and online.

A recent blog post by eMarketer referenced a study by the CMO Council noting “a lack of alignment within […] organizations derails projects to enhance the customer experience—an objective that requires finance, marketing, sales and customer service teams to be on the same page.”

BYU’s season got derailed by injuries, but their alignment within organizations ensured that even though I’m disappointed at the moment I’ll stick around.  Do the same for your customers and whether or not you “make the playoffs”, you’ll have fans for life.

Go Cougars!

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SEPTEMBER 26, 2014

The Time Will Pass Anyway

How many of us have a five year plan? How many of us even think it’s necessary? How many of us have strayed off our five year plan or even revisited the five year plan since we wrote it ten years ago? So maybe it’s time to dust it off and take another serious look at it. It may be a fruitless exercise, but did you know that you’re 33% more likely to achieve your goals if they are written down. And honestly, when you think about it, five years isn’t really that long. At least it isn’t the older you get.

              One of my new favorite quotes is by Earl Nightingale – “Don’t give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” It is simple, but profound. Easier said than done. But look back at your last five years. Did you accomplish what you set out to? If you didn’t, what held you back? Is your dream worth it? Do you even have a dream? If the answer is no, I challenge you to get one, and quick. The great things about dreams are they are yours whether they are outlandish or realistic, but they make life worth living.

              To begin (after you figure out what your dream is), take a look at your life as a whole. Is it leading you toward that dream or is it propelling you in another direction? What changes can you make to shift your life toward your dream or goal?

Or maybe ask yourself if it is still a worthy dream or goal, maybe there’s a reason you’re being propelled in another direction. I’m not saying to give up on dreams, but sometimes I think it’s good, healthy even, to change dreams or adjust them based on what we’ve learned since setting them.

              I know in my personal and professional life, I’ve been surprised by the twists and turns and what dreams were turned into. Many of the times it has been completely different than I imagined, but nonetheless satisfying. But in the end, if you know it’s a worthy dream or goal, keep going for it. Remember, “The time will pass anyway. “

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SEPTEMBER 25, 2014

It was Persistence

In 1939, nobody was taking color photographs of nature.  Black and white was king; it was art, and color was kitsch, a novelty, nothing to be taken seriously.

Eliot Porter felt differently.  Over a 50 year career as a scientist, environmentalist, and nature photographer, he helped elevate color photography to its own art form and the standard in the industry.

I was fortunate to take a class in college from an excellent photographer who knew Eliot Porter.  During a difficult time early in his career he received a letter from Eliot Porter with this bit of wisdom on being successful: “It was persistence.”

That is how Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, how the Wright brothers learned to fly, and  how DeepTarget has published The Microphone monthly for 5 years (not quite on the same level, I’ll grant you, but the principle is the same).

Persistence is how Eliot Porter changed photography for the world, and it is how you can find success at home or at the office, in your town or around the world.

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AUGUST 27, 2014

Go Big or Go Home

If you look back through history, there are plenty of momentous occasions of greatness that were achieved in the month of August.  Just to name a few: in 1908 the first massed produced car (the Ford Model T) went on sale, in 1919 daily flights between London and Paris began commencing the first international air service, and in 1960 the first communications satellite (Echo 1) was launched from Cape Canaveral.  Of course there have been greater achievements than these throughout history and even recently, but nevertheless these are pretty big deals. And I’m sure there were many at the times these achievements occurred that never believed such things were possible.  I mean, humans had gone thousands of years of just using the ground and water as their means of transportation and without any hint of motors or the complex machinery that now gets us from point A to point B. And what about communication? In 1960 could people even imagine the means and ease of communication we have just in the palm of our hands?

My point to all of this is, it’s ok to dream big and, even more importantly, to act on those dreams.

Go big or go home, right?

Sure, there may be, and there probably will be, naysayers along the way, but don’t let that stop you, even if, so far, you’ve been the naysayer.

Thomas A Edison said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

Could you imagine how different our lives would be if people like Edison and Ford or the Wright brothers would have given up? We all know their inventions failed more times than they succeeded, but unlike so many of us, they didn’t give up.

Sure, not many of us will ever achieve the kind of publicly lauded greatness of those mentioned above, but we can all achieve greatness. We can all try one more time and when that doesn’t work, we can try again and again.

So what are some of your dreams that you are willing to try one more time to accomplish?

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AUGUST 27, 2014

Hitting the Books: 6 Resources To Keep Your Marketing Skills Fresh

The season may not be over quite yet (it’s still sweltering  where I live), but for all intents and purposes, Summer is over, and it’s time to hit the books again.  All over the country kids and college students are headed back to school. Even my wife has signed up for a couple of courses.  I can’t help but be a little jealous.  I really enjoyed school – the wide range of topics, the chance to learn something new, the variety of instructors and classmates. The day-to-day grind just doesn’t provide that same kind opportunity for learning and growth.

That said, part of a marketer’s job has to include learning and growth.  The tools and trends in marketing continue to change and evolve at a dizzying pace.  How do you keep up with it all?  I have some favorite resources I turn to regularly for information, education, and marketing inspiration.

1. Seth Godin – this marketing guru has written more than a few books on marketing and writes a marketing blog on which he has posted every day for at least the past 7 YEARS. Definitely worth a follow.

2. eMarketer.com – research, insight, and intelligence. Lots of useful and interesting information for marketers.

3. MediaPost – a wealth of articles and opinion on online, email, mobile, social, search, and TV media and marketing.

4. CMO.com – Adobe’s site dedicated to providing info and expertise to senior marketing leaders.

5. MarketingProfs – includes articles, reports, tutorials, tools, and more for marketers.

6. Advertising Age – creativity, opinion, data and more on the latest in fields of marketing and advertising.

So where do you turn when you need to hit the marketing books?

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JULY 29, 2014

Let’s Talk About Baseball

With baseball season in full swing, I thought it would be fitting to reiterate some advice from one of the legends of the sport; and there was no one better, in my opinion, for the task than the “Great Bambino” or maybe you like the “Sultan of Swat”. Either way, Babe Ruth was a pretty smart guy or, at the very least, inspirational.

Let’s start with, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” Hopefully the person you are competing with most frequently, or always, is yourself. And hopefully you aren’t beating yourself up, but just trying to be a little better every day. But not giving up is the first step. One of the greatest attributes of the most successful was not the lack of obstacles, but their tenacity to overcome them.

Next in the lineup is, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” This, of course, just goes right along with the first quote. If you want to hit a home run, you’ve got to keep on showing up to the plate. It’s important to realize that even the greatest players strike out and maybe they even strike out more because they listened to the first quote of never giving up or maybe the third one.

Which brings us to my favorite, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” Fear is a vital response. It can keep us safe from real threats, but most of the time it keeps us from what we perceive to be threats or possible unpleasant situations. But let’s be honest with ourselves, fear can also keep us from a lot of terrific things. Sure, we may have to strike out a few, or several, times before we even make it on base or cross home plate, but it’s better than just sitting in the dugout and watching everyone else play the game. Again, it’s not that successful people aren’t afraid. They, like everyone else, shake in their boots once in a while, but they know the best way to get past fear is to confront it.

So step up to the plate.

And, by the way, go Rockies!

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JULY 29, 2014

3 Ways to Enjoy Summer (Work) Days

Growing up there was almost nothing more exciting than the last day of school and the anticipation of endless summer days.  Summer meant freedom. I can remember riding bikes with my brother and cousins all over the small town we lived in. On particularly windy days the 2-mile ride back to our house on the outskirts of town was slow and painful, but the freedom to go where we wanted when we wanted was worth it.  And it was needed. Summer vacation provided a necessary break from the daily school routine as well as time and space to get motivated for the next school year.

When you are all grown up summer days are a lot more like every other day.  But with kids of my own, I still see their excitement and enjoyment at the freedom they have to do what they want when they want, and it rubs off on me.  I find myself with more desire to be outdoors, to play, to let loose a little more.

And I think that is a good thing.  As a professional creative, I need to stay inspired and motivated, and sitting at a desk all day is not the most conducive environment for that.  So here are 3 ways to get more inspiration – and enjoyment – out of your summer (work)days.

1. Ride a bike! Live close enough to the office?  Try riding to work. If you are not close enough, bring your bike and take a ride at lunch.  Or take a day off and hit the trails.  It’s good exercise and a great way to see the world from a different perspective.

2. Take a walk! Maybe biking is not your cup of tea, but getting outdoors in any fashion is a wonderful way to break up the day.  Fast or slow, close or far, just get out and move around.  Get away from that computer screen and see what’s around you.

3. Look to others!  Sometimes you simply cannot get out, and that is not the only way to get inspired.  There are countless individuals out there doing amazing things and sharing them online.  In the creative world in particular, here are a few of my current favorites:

• Colossal: A site devoted to art, design, photography, video, music, even science gets in there sometimes. If you have never been to this site, then stop reading this and go now.

• DANGERDUST: this anonymous duo takes inspirational quotes and turns them into exquisite designs using chalk and a chalkboard.

• The Art of Non-Conformity: Chris Guillebeau visited every country in the world (literally). Careful – he might inspire you to quit your job.

What are your favorite summer memories, and where do you get inspiration?

BONUS:  Music! Music is a huge inspiration when I am working, so here is a summer-themed playlist for your listening pleasure.

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JUNE 30, 2014

Aim High and Over-deliver

Have you ever quoted a job but found when you actually got into the work that you had significantly underestimated?  That can be a painful predicament (and do it too often and you’ll put yourself out of business!)  You might be tempted to go back on your quote, or worse – take shortcuts or skimp on the work.  It may lead you to adopt the mindset to always under-promise to ensure you don’t get in over your head again.

I prefer to aim high.  Promise as much as you can and then give a little bit more.  It takes extra effort and sacrifice to get it done right, but it provides a great opportunity to deliver on your promise.  That will build trust.  Trust is the most valuable currency you can acquire these days, and there is no better way to build trust than by delivering on your word.  Even better – over-deliver.  Give more.  Do more.  Surprise and delight your customer.  Give them a reason to brag about you to their friends.  Sometimes you will fall short, but you will come out a winner in the end.

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JUNE 27, 2014

Winning

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” -Vince Lombardi

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” –Lyndon B. Johnson

“No matter if you win or lose, the most important thing in life is to enjoy what you have.” –Dong Dong

“Win or lose, do it fairly.” –Knute Rockne

The above quotes seemed fitting as we are in the middle of World Cup frenzy and let’s not forget Wimbledon and of course our own rat races. The real question is, though, does winning really matter? For me, I think it’s situational and for so much of life, there’s no clear win or lose scenario.

Take your job for instance. What are you winning? Hopefully a paycheck, but beyond that, what else? A promotion, perhaps? Or do you just consider yourself a winner when you bite your tongue or grin and bear it? Or maybe you consider yourself a winner because of the experience and skills you are gaining.

What about your personal life? What does winning mean there? Is it finding your soul mate? Or perhaps losing weight? Or maybe that you just were able to put one foot in front of the other and breathe?

I’m sure at different times in your life, what it means to win changes significantly based on situation and circumstance. Perhaps it would be best to take a step back and look at the current state of our lives, whether personal or business or both, and look at the whole situation before we judge whether we are winning or losing.

And if all else fails- “Win or lose, we go shopping after the election.” –Imelda Marcos

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MAY 29, 2014

Triple Crown

It’s that time of year again. I’m not talking about summer, even though that is fabulous news, especially considering the brutal winter most of us experienced. No, I’m talking about horse racing. Yep, a week from this Saturday will be the final leg of the Triple Crown Series, The Belmont Stakes. What makes it even more exciting this year is that California Chrome has won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and is favored to win The Belmont Stakes, and thus the Triple Crown. It has been thirty six years since Affirmed, the last Triple Crown winner, took that honor. There have been eleven other horses since then that have won the first two races but failed at Belmont.

I find it interesting that in all the articles I’ve read about the race, they don’t mention any of the previous eleven contenders by name. And if California Chrome loses, he will just become the twelfth, no name, just a number. I get that it would be probably a waste of time and space to name each of the previous contenders, but it’s kind of sad that though they won two great races, they are unworthy of mention by name because they failed in that third and final race.

As people, that’s how we think though. We are only as good as our last race or perhaps our last accomplishment. That would be really depressing if that were true. Just like in horse racing, there are many factors at play other than our skills and abilities. Many horse racing experts are saying if California Chrome doesn’t win, it will be because he was unlucky. He currently outshines his competition and if he runs like he has the ability to, he will win. But if he loses, he will rarely be mentioned as a double stakes winner, he will be known as the twelfth loser that has come up short since 1978.

Believe me, I’m all for being a winner whenever possible, but sometimes there are factors out of our control and it doesn’t mean we’re losers just because we can’t win every race. Case in point, my daughter who was a straight A student in high school just finished her freshman year at one of the most difficult and prestigious universities in the nation. She felt like a failure for the straight B’s she brought home, where her dad and I couldn’t have been prouder of her. She did her best and she gained not only knowledge, but experience that will be valuable to her as she continues her education and as she makes her way through life.

So, best wishes to California Chrome and congratulations on your Double Stakes win. And just for fun, here is a list of those eleven previous Double Stakes winners since 1978.

• Spectacular Bid

• Pleasant Colony

• Alysheba

• Sunday Silence

• Silver Charm

• Real Quiet

• Charismatic

• War Emblem

• Funny Cide

• Smarty Jones

• Big Brown

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MAY 29, 2014

Why Do You Race?

May is a month of races.  Horse races (two thirds of the Triple Crown happened this month – go California Chrome!), car races (the 98th Indianapolis 500 took place over Memorial Day weekend with an American winning for the first time since 2006), and running races.  The 35th annual Cotton Row Run took place this week right here in Huntsville, and I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the 10K race.

Did I win? Nope. Did I have a chance? Not even close.  It was humid, it was crowded, at times it was painful, and in the end I lost not only to all the pro runners that came but also to an 8-year-old girl. So why race?

The race was not with the 8-year-old or anyone else in the crowd.  The race was with myself.

I ran my first 10K in May 2013. I trained for that race for 4 months and ended up with my fastest recorded time for that distance and 1st place in my age group.  When I ran my next 10K in August that year, it was a bigger race, I had not trained as well, it was a hotter day, and I ran significantly slower (and subsequently did not place).  But did I give up racing? No way!  It took a little longer to get ready for the next one, but this week I ran in my third 10K.  I still am not back to the speed of that first race, but I accomplished my goal for this race: to beat my last 10K time and leave it all on the course.  Mission accomplished!

With customers I think a similar mindset is helpful.  Yes, you have to compete with others out there vying for your customers’ and potential customers’ business the same as you are.  The great advantage you have with your customers is just that: they are already your customers.  They have already picked you. So in the race to keep your current customers, the goal is less about beating out the competition as it is about beating yourself – giving more than you gave last time, offering a better deal, a better rate, better service; in short, delivering an experience/product/service as good as or better than you did previously.  With that kind of attitude and effort you are bound to win in the end!

So why do you race?

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APRIL 30, 2014

Finding Your Target Audience

It is easy to understand that when you make the right offer to the right person at the right time, you’re going to get a sale—and thus it stands to reason that if you can avoid making an offer to the wrong person or at the wrong time, you will save effort and money. This is why effective targeting is the holy grail of marketing.

But there are many marketers who have not been convinced of the power of targeting, mostly because they haven’t seen it done effectively.

Effective targeting is much like anything else in life: you get out of it what you put into it. There are easy ways to target, but they are almost always much less effective. Proper targeting takes effort and often money as well.

If you have a brick and mortar presence as a part of your product offering, then the first thing you should consider is where people live in relation to your locations. Even if you already have a relationship with the individual, their proximity to your establishment should be a factor in any marketing messages you present to them—no matter which channel. To do this, you will need their address. With this you can get a distance calculation. Some are comfortable getting a straight line distance, one that tells you how far they live from your nearest location, as the crow flies. Often this is enough. However, for some, getting a driving distance can actually make a difference. The driving distance may be miles further than a straight line distance would indicate.

Then you need to know your products and the people who buy them. Will your given product appeal best to a younger audience or an older one? The easy way is to make this decision yourself, but if it’s a product you’ve had for a while, or comparable to one you’ve had for a while, then if you have age information on your customers, you can do a deeper analysis and either confirm or reject your gut based determination. Using additional demographic information such as educational level, income level, household makeup (married, single, children present, etc.) and others can fine tune your demographic based targeting.

Another method you can use to find your target audience is to look at the products they’ve bought in the past. Doing an analysis of all your purchasers and all of their products can give you a “people who bought this also bought that”. Look for people who have similar purchase histories but are missing the product you’re looking to market, and market it to them.

And last, but not least, sometimes it’s best to ask them what they’d be interested in. Ask them a question, perhaps through an online interaction or perhaps a full-fledged survey. Find out which products they’re interested in now and which they may be interested in in the near future. Tailor your marketing, and the timing, based on their responses.

Finding your target audience takes effort and money, but in the end, it will help you gain more business and more loyalty. Effective targeting really is a gold mine—at least for those with the courage and initiative to grasp it.

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MARCH 27, 2014

Touch All the Lines

Since we’re talking about March Madness this month, I decided to use a little basketball phrase for my blog this month: Touch All the Lines.

For anyone who has played basketball or taken your child to endless basketball practices, this is probably a familiar term and one you might dread. It may conjure up memories of boredom or exhaustion or even bored exhaustion. For those not familiar with basketball, it may seem like an innocuous phrase.

So what does it mean to ‘Touch All the Lines’? In basketball they run practice drills, often called ladders, where a player starts at the baseline (the out of bounds line behind the basket) and then runs out to the free throw line, then runs back to the baseline, then turns around and runs to the half court line and back to the baseline, then to the other side’s free throw line and back to the baseline, and then all the way to the other baseline and back again. Each line (baseline, free throw line, half court line) must be touched with the player’s hand when she reaches it. It may seem like a pointless drill and one that’s easy to cheat on a little, but like most things in life, those seemingly pointless drills have a way of shaping us or preparing us.

Basically, touching all the lines means hard work. To basketball players, those drills prepare and condition them to be able to run full court at full steam for the entire game if needs be. Yes, it’s hard and for some there is a temptation to skimp a little on each line. Do you think the players that consistently skimp on the lines go unnoticed by the coaches? I guarantee they don’t.

You may not have a coach per se watching to make sure you go to the line every time, but believe me people are watching, whether it’s your boss, coworkers, customers, employees, etc…  People that touch lines generally get more playing time, if you get my drift. Yep, it’s hard and it may seem pointless, but in the end, it will pay-off. If nothing else, you’ll at least have self-respect, which is just as important, if not more so.

And like my Mother always said, “Hard work never killed anyone.”

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MARCH 26, 2014

What are the odds? Marketing musings on March Madness

So you didn’t win $1 billion dollars either?  Given the odds, that’s nothing to feel bad about.  Nobody won.  In fact, no one in recorded history has ever picked a perfect bracket.  It’s almost impossible just to pick a perfect first round!  Out of tens of millions of brackets, I am aware of only 1 individual this year that did that, but his bracket was busted just 4 games later leaving him 27 games short of the once-again-unattainable 63-0 bracket perfection.

As a marketer, I am impressed  each year with the amount of attention the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament receives regardless of any paid advertising.  If you didn’t fill out a bracket, you likely know someone that did.  It’s not just for die-hards or even everyday fans anymore – it’s fun for everyone, like my 12- and 10-year-old sons, who despite terrible odds, picked their favorite team to go to the finals and win (and yes, both of their brackets were busted in the first round). People that otherwise could not care less and fans alike obsess over making their picks and trying to win it all in their company pool or among their peers.  Filling out brackets seems to have consistently grown in popularity, but in so doing it has also become commonplace.  You can submit brackets at work, at church, at countless sports related websites, and a thousand other places.

And don’t forget Quicken. Their billion dollar bracket challenge was excellent at breaking through the noise with something new and fresh.  It was something so ludicrous it was all over the internet, all over social media, and all over the news in no time.  I haven’t run into anyone that did not hear about it. A billion dollars? Just for picking the perfect bracket, something I’ll be doing anyway? With no entry fee? (Well, not in dollars at least.) Count me in!

At first it sounded like a potentially risky bet, but what were the odds? According to mathematician Jeff Bergen of DePaul University, the odds of randomly picking a perfect bracket are less then 1 in 9 quintillion – that’s a 9 followed by 18 zeros.  Add a bit of knowledge to your selection process and you can up the odds to 1 in 128 billion.  A few months ago I wrote a piece about one of my Grandad’s favorite sayings: you can’t win if you don’t play.   Given those odds though, this contest seemed like one that you could never win no matter how many times you played.  You are much, much more likely to win the Mega Millions lottery, become president, or die by vending machine than you would be to pick a perfect bracket.

Which all adds up to what? A brilliant marketing stunt centered around a very popular event with a very low risk; one that generated untold buzz and attention, not to mention a lot of data on a lot of folks for Quicken.  Data they could then use to show the value of their products to a targeted group of individuals.

So what are you doing to capture your customers’ attention and add a little enjoyment to their interactions with your brand? What are the odds that your potential and current customers come away from those interactions feeling like they got real value out of it? Are you marketing to them individually, targeting their needs and wants? Stunts can be fun and even worthwhile, but at the end of the day, odds are that the end goal is to build lasting relationships and provide real value that will pay dividends in the long run.  And that is a win-win for everyone.

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FEBRUARY 25, 2014

Oops

I think it can be said that the measure of a person or even a company can be seen in how they react to mistakes. I think we can all say that there was quite a big oops during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics when that pesky fifth ring didn’t light properly. Yes, it was a mistake and it was embarrassing, but there was no going back and fixing it. So what to do?

It would have been easy to lash out at the critics and comedians that got quite a bit of airtime in dishing about the failure. But instead the director of the games turned the tables and made fun of himself and in turn took a negative and turned it into a positive.

During the closing ceremonies several ice dancers took the stage and lit it up to reenact that oops, it was brilliant. You can see the picture here –http://www.olympic.org/photos/sochi-2014-closing-ceremony-41. Immediately I thought, I would love to meet that guy or work with him.

We all make mistakes, personally and professionally. If you don’t, then I want to meet you too and know your secret. Sometimes those mistakes are monumental and they take a lot of smoothing over, but regardless, the best thing we can do is acknowledge them and refrain from becoming defensive and, if appropriate, try to find some humor in it. Hopefully, you can help the recipient of your mistake find some humor in it too (again if appropriate).  And remember mistakes are unintentional. If you’re intentionally messing up, then this blog probably isn’t for you.

If you’ve made a mistake with a customer, apologize immediately and try to remedy the situation as soon as possible. I think you will find most people will be understanding when you take this course of action.  Of course, there are always those few that will take you through the ringer, but just remember it was a mistake and not to beat yourself up over it. Learn from it and move on.

And just remember to be thankful that our mistakes aren’t televised and publicized for the whole world to see.

Doesn’t that make you feel better?

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FEBRUARY 26, 2014

Is it mobile?

Seven months ago my daughter was 1; 1 day old, that is. It still feels like she just got here, but the differences between a newborn and a 7-month-old are significant. She has changed a lot in that time. Comparing now to then it is easy to see the differences, but not so much along the way.

Things change, often faster than not, and if you don’t pay attention you’ll miss it, which could mean missing out.

For example, 7 months ago Pew Research reported that 35% of U.S. cell phone owners use mobile banking1. That was up nearly 20% over the previous 2 years.  Just 1 month ago they updated their statistics on mobile technology noting that 55% of U.S. adults own a smartphone2 – up approximately 10% from 1 year previous, and over 20% from 3 years ago. Tablets are rising even faster with 42% of U.S. adults in the tablet ownership category – up from just 3% in May 2010.

In many ways mobile still feels fresh and new (and no doubt it still is compared to other media formats), but it has already become ubiquitous.  My wife and I have never been “early adopters”, yet she got her tablet (which I still consider relatively new) 2 years ago, putting her in the first 20% of tablet ownership.  Ownership has over doubled since then! It is no longer a matter of “if” or even “when” for mobile – the question is “what”. What are you doing about mobile now?

Seven months ago, mobile was here. It was not a fad or a trend.  But it is changing, growing, evolving. More people than ever are using smartphones, more are using tablets, and even more are going to in the weeks and months ahead.  If you are not doing something about it now, you are missing out. So the question you need to ask yourself about your online advertising is:

Is it mobile?

1. 51% of U.S. Adults Bank Online by Susannah Fox:

http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/08/07/51-of-u-s-adults-bank-online/

2. Mobile Technology Fact Sheet:

http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/mobile-technology-fact-sheet/

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JANUARY 29, 2014

20 Years

I recently came across an old proverb that really struck a chord with me- “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” I thought it was very fitting for the New Year. I think I also liked it since I will be married for 20 years this year and as I look back, I can see the fruit of the trees that were planted 20 years ago, but as always I wished I would have planted more trees in my orchard of life or maybe pruned and cared for some of those trees a little better.

But the proverb is hopeful. Just because we didn’t plant a tree 20 years ago, we still can. And there is no better time than the present. 20 years may seem like a long time. I know I thought that 20 years ago as a young bride, but looking back it seems like 20 years has flown by.

So, if you could look into the future 20 years from now, what would you like to see both professionally and personally? And what do you need to do now to make sure you realize those dreams or goals. Maybe you want to become an industry leader or innovator. Maybe you want to retire or get a better paying job. Maybe you just want to be a better person or less negative. All of these items start with planting a seed or seedling.

A first step would be to write it down and then map out a plan and then keep that out where you can see, even better tell someone else about it too. Someone you can be accountable to.  I have a friend who, when she sets a goal, she always tells a few of us and she expects us to ask her about it.  It has worked well for her. Then don’t look back unless it’s to see how far you have come. Remember it takes a long time to grow a tree, especially if you’re starting from a seed.

So what seeds are you going to plant this year?

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JANUARY 29, 2014

Marketing Lessons from Grandad: Lesson #5. Hang by your…

Hang by your thumbs, and write if you get work!  That was Grandad’s sign off when he wrote letters, or his “farewell” when he left our house or we left his.  He always said it with a grin on his face – a funny thought if you consider what the saying literally infers.  But for Grandad it was just a humorous way to say “Hang in there! It’ll all work out! You can make it, and when you do, I want to hear about it and celebrate your success!”

As marketers, are we connecting on a personal level?  Are we offering encouragement to and building trust with individuals?  Are we trying to put a smile on their faces, and when they buy what we’re selling, are we celebrating their successes?

It’s a new year, and that brings a new opportunity to market with purpose and meaning; to create and share something remarkable and worth sharing. If you’re not quite there yet, don’t give up.  Just hang by your thumbs, and write if you get work!

Marketing Musings 2013 (ARCHIVE)

NOVEMBER 27, 2013

Marketing Lessons from Grandad: Lesson #4. It pays to be…

Grateful!  When Grandad was a young boy living on a ranch in the mountains of Colorado, his dad gave him a pony to ride.  Grandad felt like a real cowboy.  His younger brother Robert got a pony, too, and it didn’t take long for Grandad to notice that Robert’s horse was thinner and faster than his own.  As the older of the two, that didn’t seem right; he should have the faster pony, and his baby brother the slower, fatter, safer horse.  Determined to improve his situation as he saw it, my grandfather approached his dad about making the trade.  He made his case about being older and needing the faster horse, and his father agreed to the trade.

Not long after the trade, Grandad was made aware that Robert’s pony was pregnant. She gave birth to a colt that was sold, and the money from the sale was deposited into an account for Robert.  Poor Grandad! Not only was Robert’s pony now thinner and faster, he also had money in the bank that could have been Grandad’s.  Grandad recalled that Robert  got even richer selling 1 or 2 more colts from that pony.

It was a hard lesson but one that stuck with him: it pays (quite literally) to be grateful for what you have.

At this holiday season, are you showing gratitude for what you have?  Do those who have taken a chance on you feel that gratitude?  Take a minute to say thanks.  Make an effort to show it all year, and it will pay dividends in the end.

P.S. Thanks for reading!  One last “Marketing Lessons from Grandad” is coming in December.

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NOVEMBER 25, 2013

So I moustache you a question?

Now that Movember is coming to an end, I thought I would do a poll in our office as I happen to be the only female that works here. You see, none of the men in my office grew moustaches in November and I wondered if they even knew about Movember? (Or perhaps their wives nixed their participation.)

Questions:

1. Have you ever heard of Movember?

2. Do you know how or why Movember began?

Results:

1. Only 50% had ever heard of Movember. It may be good to note that it was the younger half that had heard of it. Those that frequently use social media.

2. Of those that had heard of Movember only half of them knew that it began as a way to bring awareness to men’s health issues like prostate cancer. And this was the even younger half.

This was obviously not a scientific poll, but I believe there are a couple of noteworthy things to learn from this. First of all, the effects of social media – we know this is how the younger generations communicate and receive information. I wouldn’t consider myself a younger generation, but social media plays a role in my life especially since I have teenagers and lots of cousins that are younger than me and this is their preferred method of communication. I had quite a few male cousins, all younger than me participate in Movember and I have thoroughly enjoyed the postings of their moustaches through the month.

I should also note that the older men in my office were not aware of Movember at all and do not use social media frequently, if at all . While I agree social and digital media are the best and most economical ways to reach audiences, we shouldn’t discount traditional types of advertising all together. In the end, it’s all about who your target audience is.

Of course these younger generations are only getting older and the generations coming up will only be more entrenched in social and digital media, so there is no time like the present to jump on that bandwagon if you haven’t already.

And just for fun, here are the rules for Movember:

1. Once registered at Movember.com each Bro must begin the 1st of November with a clean-shaven face.

2. For the entire month of November each Mo Bro must grow and groom a moustache.

3. There is to be no joining of the Mo to your side burns. (That’s considered a beard.)

4. There is to be no joining of the handlebars to your chin. (That’s considered a goatee.)

5. Each Bro must conduct himself like a true country gentleman.

So I moustache you a question:

Did you, or anyone you know personally, participate in Movember?

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OCTOBER 28, 2013

Are You Afraid of Your Customers?

I think as humans one of our greatest fears is the unknown.  Unknown means not within the range of one’s knowledge, experience, or understanding; strange; unfamiliar. It’s no wonder we fear the unknown. Isn’t amazing how, as we gain familiarity with something that may frighten us or we gain more insight, our fears dissipate. That’s not to say we completely overcome our fear, but when we have knowledge, we’re better able to cope and deal with things that may be unpleasant to us.

During this Halloween season there is one thing we needn’t be afraid of anymore…our customers. Sure there will always be a scary few we want to avoid like the plague, but for the most part, the more you learn about your customers, the happier you both will be.

Why? First of all, your customer will be less annoyed by the pesky mass market emails you send out, especially the ones they receive about products they already have and may have just purchased at a higher price than you’re advertising now. No need to rub that in. Think how giddy they’ll be when they log in to your website and see only digital display ads for products they actually qualify for and want.

Secondly, when you get to know your customers and they actually become people to you, it will change how you serve them, and you’ll end up liking them even more. It’s a great paradox, but one that actually works. I dare you to try it!

So, quit hiding behind your desk and your excuses this season and boldly go where few are willing to. Dive into the deep pools of data and take a few laps around. You’ll find the exercise quite invigorating and probably even healthy for your bottom line.

Happy Halloween, Y’all!

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OCTOBER 28, 2013

Marketing Lessons from Grandad: Lesson #3. If you come home with a hair on your coat…

You better have the horse to match!  A cowboy in his youth, Grandad often repeated that quote with a twinkle in his eye.  As much as he enjoyed the humor of it, he was completely serious.  He married his teenage sweetheart at 19, and they celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary just 3 months before he passed away.  Loyalty was not just a word or a good idea to Grandad – it was a way of life.

It’s easy to think about customer loyalty (or lack thereof), but what about loyalty to the customer?  What did you promise them when they chose you over your competitors?  Are you going the extra mile to deliver on those claims?  Doing so is sure to inspire loyalty while making promises you cannot keep will likely do the opposite.

Sometimes we’re quick to forget about our customers, members, or subscribers that have already invested their time, attention, and/or money in our products or services.  We tend to focus on the new sale and increasing our reach leaving our current clients to fend for themselves.  Ironically, securing and increasing their loyalty could be just the ticket to getting that next sale whether through selling new services to the client or recommendations from that client to new potential customers.

Delight your existing customers.  Market specifically to them based on their needs and wants.  Be loyal to your customers the way you want them to be loyal to you and just maybe you’ll never have to wonder about a hair on their coat.

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SEPTEMBER 27, 2013

Marketing Lessons from Grandad: Lesson #2. You can sleep all your life…

When you’re dead, but now get up!  My parents used to say that to me in the not-so-wee hours of the morning when there were things to be done that I would have rather slept through.  I learned after my grandfather passed away that his mother had said the same to him. That was kind of amusing to me seeing as how Grandad was an early riser since he was 4 years old. Grandad got things done!

He grew up on a ranch in Colorado in the 1930’s, and everyone had a job to do.  At 4 years old, Grandad’s job was to get up at 4:30am and make sure the firewood bin for the wood-burning stove in the kitchen was filled from the woodpile outside so that his mother could cook breakfast for the ranch hands and the family.  It was a small chore but one that left an impression on him and on me.

In later years he would continue that habit of getting up early so that he could exercise and read before heading to the office.  Reminds me of an article I read about What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.

But early morning is not the point.  The lesson Grandad taught me is that if there is work to be done, now is the time to do it!  What do you want to accomplish?  Go for it!  Waiting around, taking a nap, sleeping in – that might feel safer, it might seem more comfortable, but you’re only cheating yourself (and maybe your customers).  Now is the only time you’ve got, and there is no time to waste, especially when it comes to marketing.  Whether you start your day in the early morning hours or finish it then, make the most of it right now.

Sure a little R&R can be good, even deserved, but don’t make it an excuse for failing to get the most important things done when they need to be done.  Get to work and leave it all on the table – you can sleep all your life when you’re dead!

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SEPTEMBER 27, 2013

Making Distinct Periods In History

Previously I wrote about what a milestone year this would be for our family. We had a child leave for college, one received her driver license, this is our youngest’s last year in elementary school, etc. I also had a pretty big birthday. Needless to say, I have thought a lot about ages and aging this past year. Age doesn’t just mean a number or getting older. The word age also means a distinct period of history. I’m sure in the future when I look back at this age, I will consider it a significant time period in my life. This is true, not only because of the above mentioned items, but because I pushed myself personally this year, having a milestone birthday kind of does that to a person. I felt like I needed to prove that I was still young and capable and that I could try new things.

So, is this a distinct period of history for you, whether it be personally or professionally?  Will you be able to look back and think this was a great age? If the answer is no, then what can you do to change that? How can you challenge yourself?

Here is a list of ideas you can use, personally or professionally, to make this the best age:

• Learn a new skill.

• Do something that scares you.

• Mentor somebody.

• Write- whether it is a blog, a journal, a letter etc.

• Form new relationships and network.

• Own your mistakes and learn from them.

• Try new technologies.

• Step out of your comfort zone.

Now go make some history!

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AUGUST 29, 2013

Marketing Lessons from Grandad: Lesson #1. You Can’t Win If…

You can’t win if you don’t play!  That’s what Grandad would say as he licked the stamp to place on his entry to the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.  His odds of winning? One in a million.  But his odds of winning if he didn’t enter? Zero.  You can try, and you might fail.  But if you fail to try, haven’t you failed by default?

That lesson applies to a world of other situations, including marketing; perhaps especially to marketing.  There are an endless number of advertising and marketing tactics out there, opportunities to connect with those interested in what you have to offer, and your competition is taking part.  Are you?  Sometimes it feels like a one in a million chance of “winning”, but if you’re not out there at all, what are the odds an individual will choose you over the competition?  You don’t have to try it all, but don’t be afraid to do something just because you can’t do everything.

And what about your current customers, clients, members, or subscribers?  You know the competition is in the game, doing everything they can to woo and win them away from you.  Are you playing to win the continued loyalty of those already on your team, or do you take that loyalty for granted?  Those individuals are just that – unique individuals that already picked you, your service, your company.  You’ve won the first round with them, but the game isn’t over.  They can be your strongest supporters, loudest evangelists, and most loyal customers…unless you think the game ended when they picked you.

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AUGUST 22, 2013

Give it the Old College Try

Have you ever heard the saying, “Give it the old college try”?  It has been around for almost a century and it is typically used in sporting situations. It means to give a zealous all-out effort.

So the real question is- are you giving it the old college try? Some synonyms for the word zealous are – fervent, ardent, enthusiastic, passionate, keen, dedicated, committed and energetic.

Do any of those words describe you and your behavior? If they don’t, you should probably ask yourself why and what you can do about it. Life is too short not to be those things. I know it is easier said than done, but hey what have you got to lose? It’s better to give it the old college try than to sit on the sidelines and watch the game of life pass you by.

Maybe you don’t have the perfect job right now, but there is always something you can do to make it better, even if it is only to change your attitude. Don’t wait for something to happen. Make something happen!

Could you imagine what a different environment all of our places of business would be if we were all giving it the old college try? Think of all the great things that could be accomplished. Think about the morale it would create.

Here’s a little cheer to give you some inspiration, it was the first cheer heard from the sidelines at a Princeton University football game in the 1880’s.

Hip, hip!

Rah, rah, rah!

Tiger, tiger, tiger!

Siss, siss, siss!

Boom, boom, boom! Ah!

Feel free to insert your name after the cheer.

Good luck!

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JULY 24, 2013

Get the Facts Before You Act

This may seem like obvious advice, but sometimes I think we really forget to adhere to it. As humans we are all too often impulsive and we sometimes act before we think. What is this advice? Make sure to get all the facts (or at least what you can) before you act. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes those automatic emotional reactions are correct, but a lot of times they get us in trouble.

Like I said before, this seems like obvious advice, so why so often do we not follow it? Here are a few reasons that I see:

1. We trust our own judgment and we all like to be right. This isn’t necessarily the wrong thing, but it is amazing what getting all the facts can do to change our initial judgment sometimes.

2. We are lazy. We like things to be done and over with. Yes, gathering facts can be tedious and time consuming, but think of the regret it may save you in the end. I read a quote yesterday that said, if you don’t have the time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to fix it? Those are wise words.

3. We are afraid. Sometimes getting all the facts can be scary. We may not want to deal with what we find. As scary as it may be, it’s always better to know what you’re dealing with when you can. Remember, though, that sometimes we find out it wasn’t so bad after all or we were afraid for no reason.

4. We are emotional creatures so obviously we like to respond with emotion rather than logic. Now I’m not proposing we should all be like Vulcans, but honestly it wouldn’t hurt to use a little more logic when making decisions or responding to a problem.

So remember, get the facts before you act!

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JULY 24, 2013

Effective Targeting, Finding the Balance

There are many ways you can target.

You can target customers and prospects geographically. How close do they live to your locations? Do they live in the neighborhoods or communities most likely to do business with you? Where do they work?

You can target customers based on many different profile attributes. You can target products based on age, gender, socio economic attributes, household makeup, buying habits, and much, much more. Certain products may appeal best to certain people, and the better you get at targeting, the better you get at selling.

But you can also target the messages and their packaging based on these things. Certain people are more likely to respond to messages that are fun and exciting, whereas others want the pertinent facts, whereas others want a mix of the two. Messages can be targeted to be more relevant to people of a particular age and gender or family makeup.

There are so many different targeting options that at some point you hit a wall of diminishing returns. You need to find the right balance for your company, product, and customer/prospect makeup.

Gaining the insight necessary requires effort. It requires an understanding of people and an understanding of data and the ability to use both to generate ideas and experiment to confirm those ideas. Maybe you have one person with these skills, or maybe you have one person who can organize the activities of those who have the skills. Either way, you will learn a great deal about your customers, your prospects, and your products. And finding this balance will take your marketing success to new heights.

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JUNE 27, 2013

Understanding Bounced Emails, Deliverability, and Opened Emails

So, you’ve sent out an email marketing campaign, now what?

You probably want to know how effective your campaign was, right?

But in order to understand the results of any email campaign, there are some things you need to understand first.

Bounced Emails

The first thing you need to understand is what a bounced email is. For lack of a better word, a bounced email is a rejected email, but one that was rejected by the email service provider that your email recipient uses to access email (like Gmail, Windows Live Mail, etc.). This means that the user will never see this email, even in their junk mail or spam folder.

There are two kinds of bounces, hard bounces and soft bounces. A hard bounce is a permanent bounce, the kind of bounce that means that this email address really isn’t any good. For example, if the email address doesn’t exist, then the email will bounce…hard. A soft bounce indicates a temporary situation, like the email account was full.

Deliverability

The next thing you need to understand is deliverability. What is deliverability? Deliverability is a percentage indicating how many emails made it to the inbox. However, it’s actually a bit more complicated than this. What this actually refers to is the percentage of emails that did not bounce. It is possible that the email didn’t make it to the inbox, but instead was redirected to the junk mail or spam folder. But the email was delivered, so it is counted as delivered. It is not possible for an email system to give you a precise breakdown of which emails made it to the inbox and which ones didn’t. Email privacy protection features in almost all email clients prevent that.

Opened Emails

Open rates. Most email products report on the number of emails that were opened by the recipients. This is a good figure to have, but just like deliverability, it is important to understand that this is more complicated than it might seem. Why? You guessed it, because of email privacy concerns. Almost all email clients (Gmail, Windows Live Mail, Outlook, etc.) do not, with their default settings, report back to an email sender when an email is opened.

Because of this, most email marketing systems use one of two methods to detect that an email has been opened. The first method is that a special, invisible image is embedded in the email and when the email requests this image from the server, it sends a code that lets the server know that that email has been opened and who opened it. The second method is to detect when a link is clicked. The idea with these methods is that, if the images were shown or a link was clicked, then the email was opened.

However, most email clients also include an email privacy feature where images are blocked by default. The user must either choose to show the images or “trust” the sender in order for the images to send a message to the server indicating that the email was opened. This means that it is entirely possible for an email recipient to open the email and even read it without showing any images or clicking on any links—in which case, there is no way to know the email was opened.

When you understand these facts about email statistics, you can better interpret the results of your emails campaigns—and you can even engage in campaigns to help your results be more accurate. You could launch an educational campaign trying to get your customers to “trust” you as an email sender, so images show automatically, thus improving the accuracy of your open rate statistics.

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MAY 30, 2013

Joy In Team Work

In January of this year I mentioned in a blog post that there would be a week in May when several life changing events would occur. Well, that week has just recently come and gone. I watched my oldest daughter receive her high school diploma, with honors, my youngest daughter turned 16 and I turned 40. I also, along with all my children, completed that 5k that I had signed up for back in January. It has definitely been a month of joy, gratitude and reflection. I have been reminded many times that all of these events took team work; not only as a family, but those within our community, school, church and circle of friends.

I know you are waiting for me to mention running, so here it goes…. The morning of our race just happened to be one of the coldest, wettest days in May that Alabama has ever had on record. I actually tried to convince my children that maybe it wasn’t the best idea to run that day. We were not prepared to run in that kind of weather, but they wouldn’t hear of it. They had trained (some more than others) and were ready to run and they wanted their mom to join them too. So, against my better judgment, I agreed and we set out. I’m not sure I have ever been so wet and cold in my life, but on the flipside I was truly happy. Why, you ask? I can’t tell you what a neat experience it was for all of us to cross that finish line (all within a few minutes of one another) and know that we accomplished it together. We were soaked and shivering, but it was well worth it!

Isn’t that what being part of a team is about? I was hesitant, but my kiddos encouraged me to face the challenge. Some of us were slower than others, but that was ok, because the faster ones waited at the finish line and cheered on those behind them.

Is there anyone on your team that could use a little encouragement and maybe even a little cheering on? It is so much sweeter to share a victory with others, whether it be at work or at home.

Remember there is no I in Team.

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MAY 29, 2013

What Mark Will We Leave?

I read a news story today about a fifteen year old young man from China who tried to leave his mark by writing his name and a declaration that he was there on an ancient Egyptian historical site while his family was on a tour there.

There were several lessons that I think pertain to running a business and marketing that I think we can learn from this story:

• Leave a mark, but make sure it’s truly your mark. I don’t think we can fault this young man for wanting to leave his mark, but he should have found a way to leave a mark that contributed something of his own. He should have left a mark that represented his own achievement not to simply stamp his mark on the accomplishments of another.

When we market, do we use permission based marketing methods? Do we engage in crass or even deceptive marketing practices because we can make more money? Do we copy the creativity of others? Or do we seek to create something special ourselves; do we strive for excellence in message and delivery?

• Accept responsibility for your actions. This young man’s parents acknowledged that their son made a mistake and they took responsibility for it themselves, declaring that he did this because they did not teach him right and because they did not supervise him well on the tour. Kudos to them for owning this.

When we market or run our business, do we take responsibility when we drop the ball? Do we take responsibility when our employees make mistakes and own the issue, even if we had no part in the mistake ourselves?

• Protect those you are responsible for without dismissing their responsibility for their actions. By shifting the focus for this misbehavior from their teenage son to their own failures as parents, they did not dismiss the fault in their son, but they did protect him from feeling the undiluted anger of an offended public. Again, kudos to them for protecting their son.

As a marketing or business manager, do we stand beside an errant employee and help them weather the storm and recover from their mistake even when we didn’t have a part in the offending action? Or do we throw them to the wolves, claiming that we didn’t know such a thing happened and that heads are going to roll and people will be punished, so those who were offended think we’re addressing their anger? The latter might be easier, and even safer, but that doesn’t make it better.

Our products and our service matter, but what we do when something goes wrong matters even more. When those we serve see us take the high road when we make mistakes, they gain confidence that we will take the high road even when no one is watching. And that kind of reputation leaves a mark worthy of notice.

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APRIL 26, 2013

Consistency, Dedication, and Patience.

I know several of my posts this year have focused on running and surprise… this one will be no different! I mentioned earlier how I signed up for my first 5k but I didn’t mention that my husband signed up for the 10k that will take place before the 5k. The last 10k he ran was in 1987 in the Bolder Boulder, he was 15 at the time.

Watching him train has honestly been inspirational. He has not really done a lot of running since he was a teenager, so to see him start in January not being able to run 1 mile straight, to now being able to run over 6 miles straight is amazing! To manage such a feat it takes consistency, dedication, and a lot of patience. Since it was winter when he started to train he used the track at our local YMCA. The track is small and you have to run around it 17 times to complete one mile. I know from experience that it can become a little boring and tedious at times. I can’t even imagine running around it over 105 times in a row, but that is what my husband has done now several times. Of course it took many hours and days to work up to it, but it has all been worth it.

Consistency, dedication, and patience are great attributes and I would say most successful people have these skills. The good thing is we don’t have to necessarily be born with them. They are skills we can acquire, but funnily enough it requires, consistency, dedication, and patience. Just like in running there will be good days and bad days, but even on the bad days you tried, so it is still a victory and you were consistent in your effort.

My last piece of advice to obtain your goals would be to use help where you can get it. There is no shame in using the tools available to you. In my husband’s case he used a running app and he went through lots of books on audio. The first helped guide him and the second staved off the boredom that was bound to happen after several weeks.

So remember…. Consistency, Dedication, and Patience.

I know you can do it!

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APRIL 26, 2013

People

Three of us in our office here had a friend who was running in the Boston Marathon. We checked in several times on her run, checking her pace and being awestruck at her accomplishment.

When we got the news about the bombing, our first thoughts were of our friend. Did she finish already? We found that she had. How much before the bombing did she finish? We found that she had finished almost an hour before. We breathed a tentative sigh of relief, believing that she would have likely left the finish area during that time.

But my wife posted to her Facebook wall asking if she was OK. Someone else who had heard from her family that she had gotten in touch with them told us that she was OK.

When things like this happen, I think most of us are drawn to thoughts that unify us as a people and as a nation. It wasn’t Democrats or Republicans or Independents that were attacked, it was Americans. Our differences seem smaller, our kindness and understanding increase. Our humanity grows, perhaps like the Grinch’s heart in the famous Christmas story.

We see each other as people.

How long will it last?

That’s up to us.

For marketers, it can be easy to start to see those we market to as numbers. What are our numbers in this demographic? How can we improve them? What did we do that worked? How can we use that understanding to be more effective?

These are all good questions, and they all help the bottom line—something that is very important for businesses.

But we can improve our effectiveness if we always remember that we’re marketing to people. People know the difference; they can feel it—even if they can’t articulate it. They know when you value them as people in addition to valuing their business. They know this because of how you market to them, how you target them, and how you keep your promises (or how you don’t).

Never forget that each of those numbers you work with represents a person.

You can improve your bottom line and make the world a better place at the same time.

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MARCH 26, 2013

Lemonade vs. Hot Chocolate

This week is spring break for many across the country including where we live in Alabama. It’s typically warm and sunny here this time of year. Unfortunately that’s not the case this year. We’ve had a very cold March and this last week was no exception.  We have not yet been able to trade in our winter gear for our more desired choices of shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops. Our pasty skin is even crying for the sun to come out. Right now, we’re singing endless winter nights instead of endless summer nights.

So what do you do when the winter seems endless? Or better yet, what do you do when you feel like nothing will ever change where you work?

One thing we do know is that the weather is always changing and, hey, you might have noticed that those forecasts aren’t always very accurate, so for all I know it could be 80 degrees tomorrow instead of the forecasted 45 (this is very wishful thinking on my part). Maybe the extended forecast where you work is looking a little bleak too, but does that necessarily have to be the case? Thankfully as humans we have a great power: the power of choice. I don’t mean that we get to choose what necessarily happens to us, but we always get to choose how we react to it. I can’t choose for it to be my desired 80 degrees tomorrow, but I can choose to have a positive attitude and make the most of it. So instead of lemonade, I drink hot chocolate. That’s not so bad, right?

Not many of us have ideal work situations, but when we choose to highlight the positive we can make that forecast a little bit sunnier. We may not be able to change the weather forecast, but we can at the very least change our attitudes.

So bring on the hot chocolate!

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FEBRUARY 27, 2013

The Shifting Sands

I recently got one of my kids hooked on one of my favorite shows from years ago, The Pretender.

We like to watch this show together, some nice father, daughter time. But it was really funny to see my daughter react to the cell phones they used on the show and have to explain what a pager was. These aren’t quite the big brick phones of the early 80’s, but they are so funny to look at now.

My wife and I and our daughters each have smartphones. There’s a little family rivalry over whether smartphones should be iPhones or Android, but this is the world my children live in. They don’t really know anything different.

The wind blows, sand shifts, and things change through the times.

I used to work in the print industry and although this industry is not by any means dead, I was there for one of the biggest declines this industry experienced. Printers went out of business left and right. The competition for price and features was too fierce. Only those with reputations and reserves to last through the storm survived.

And all indications are this industry is shrinking at an ever increasing pace. It won’t go away completely for a good long time, but it will feel to most of us like it’s died in the not too distant future. More and more people are reading books on tablets and even smartphones. People are even opting for magazines and news on their devices. It’s flashier and more interactive. And the choices are endless.

No, this trend is going to continue and accelerate. Google, who arguably has a vested interest, just like DeepTarget, is declaring this truth with vigor. An article I read today here shows what Google sees for the future.  You can read that article here.

The question is, are you prepared for the shift?

Where will you be when the winds wane for a time and the sands settle?

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FEBRUARY 26, 2013

Blisters

Last time I wrote I mentioned that I had signed up to run my very first 5K in May. Since that time, I have found that you absolutely need the right pair and type of shoes. I own several pairs of tennis shoes and thought that at least one of those pairs would be adequate to complete the task at hand. They were all well broken in shoes and I had never had any issues when wearing them for regular use. Unfortunately when I began to use them for running, they each caused blisters. I went through three pairs until I finally got wise and decided that maybe I should get some real running shoes. Yes, it was a little bit of a hassle and I had to spend money that I really wasn’t planning on, but it was so very worth it. Not only are my feet happy, but they have helped my overall performance.

I think sometimes in business we take this approach. We get used doing and using what’s familiar to us even if it causes us some “blisters”. Because let’s be honest, sometimes change and spending money can be very painful and time consuming. But that should definitely not discourage us when a change needs to be made; especially if those blisters are becoming visible to your customers and partners.

Thankfully change doesn’t need to happen all at once. Just like in running we need to pace ourselves, the same can be said for implementing change at work. Setting up a good schedule for making changes is a good idea and will prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed. The great thing is that even small changes can make a big difference. Maybe you can’t change everything all at once, but don’t let that stop you from changing what you can now.

So here’s to fewer blisters and more productivity!

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JANUARY 30, 2013

Don’t Settle, You Deserve the Best

Does your online banking system come with a free, built in marketing module?

With the industry as a whole recognizing the value of an effective marketing system within the online banking environment, a system designed to sell your products to your end users, many online banking vendors are including marketing systems in order to remain competitive.

When evaluating the merits of such a marketing system, there are some questions you should ask yourself:

1. Does this marketing system make it easy for me to do updates to the look and feel or text of my marketing messages without involving IT?

2. Does this marketing system make it easy for me, the marketing professional, to design or select high quality professionally designed images and banners without requiring the services of a graphic artist?

3. Does this marketing system give me statistical data giving me and those I report to a window into what our marketing activities actually are doing and what the results of those efforts are—including our account growth?

4. Is my online banking provider focused on creating and enhancing their marketing module to give me a solution that is on par with the best the industry has to offer?

Some forward thinking online banking providers are taking steps to ensure that their customers have industry leading tools for their marketing efforts. These companies are partnering with a digital marketing solution provider so that they are able to offer a solution that is created and enhanced by a company whose sole focus is to create best of breed digital marketing products.

Does your online banking provider value your marketing ideas and prowess enough to give you this choice?

Contact your online banking vendor today to find out. Let them know that you want choices. Let them know that you want to take advantage of the features and effectiveness that an industry leader in digital marketing solutions brings to the table.

Whatever you do, don’t settle.

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JANUARY 29, 2013

Fabulous 40

I know for many January is a time for reflection, but also for looking ahead and making goals. This year for me is a little different, as I feel like this year has many life changing events in store for me and I don’t even need to make goals to accomplish it!

Here are just a few life changers for me: I will have one daughter graduate from high school and then leave for college, one daughter will turn 16 and get her license and I will be turning 40. And this is just one week in May! I did make a commitment to myself that I would make 40 fabulous. So, I have decided to get somewhat out of my comfort zone. I just signed up for my first 5k, which to some may not be a big deal, but for someone like me that has never ran that far at one time, not to mention that I don’t like people watching me run, it is a pretty big deal.

Signing up for this 5k not only gets me out of my comfort zone, but it gives me a goal to complete and will hopefully keep me using my YMCA membership to its fullest. I know in January we seem to overuse the term goal setting, but maybe we can call them life changers. Life changing to me is more urgent than goal setting. Of course we have life changing events that happen without any planning on our part, but wouldn’t it be nice, for a change, to make some life changers that we plan and work for? This works not only for personal goals but professional ones too.

What can you change in your company to have a “life changing” event? Can you add or upgrade current products? What about pricing structure? It can be as simple as how you conduct meetings and flow of information.

So what things are you doing to change your personal and professional life this year?

Marketing Musings 2012 (ARCHIVE)

NOVEMBER 28, 2012

The Facts of Office Life

I love interesting lists of facts. If you read our monthly newsletter, you know I always include a few little fun facts about that particular month. The following facts are not only interesting, but insightful. I think this list is particularly useful for employers and managers. Note how many of the following items deal with stress.

I love interesting lists of facts. If you read our monthly newsletter, you know I always include a few little fun facts about that particular month. The following facts are not only interesting, but insightful. I think this list is particularly useful for employers and managers. Note how many of the following items deal with stress. Of course stress is a fact of life and stress can be good, but too much causes high turnover, reduced productivity, increased absenteeism.

We know the holidays can be especially stressful, so this may be a good time to think of some great office stress reducers. You can start by sharing this list!

1. One percent of U.S. employers allow employees to take naps during working      hours.

2. People in the U.S. spend at least 1896 hours per year at work.

3. Women business owners employ 35% more people than all the Fortune 500 companies combined.

4. No piece of normal-size paper can be folded in half more than seven times.

5. During thinking, we only use about 35% of our brains.

6. A typist’s fingers travel 12.6 miles during an average workday.

7. More American workers (18%) call in sick on Friday than any other day of the week.

8. Tuesday has the lowest percent of absenteeism for American workers—11%.

9. Difficult focusing on the computer screen, short-term memory problems and trouble with basic math can be caused by a mere 2% drop in body water. Remember to stay hydrated during work hours.

10. Americans now spend more than 100 hours a year commuting to work.

11. More  than 50% of lost work days are stress related, keeping approximately 1 million people home from work every day.

12. The  average office worker spends 50 minutes a day looking for lost files and other items.

13. The United States has the fourth largest workforce in the world, at 154.2 million (does not include those who are unemployed).

14. Forty  percent of worker turnover is due to job stress.

15. Remember to always take notes during meetings, as the brain retains less than 5% of what is said.

16. Each person owns at least eight distinctive intelligences (Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic,  Naturalistic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Verbal-Linguistic , Logical-Mathematical, Spatial), and these are further developed whenever used at work.

17. “Stewardesses” is the longest word typed with only the left hand.

18. Refrigerating rubber bands makes them last longer.

19. Eighty percent of jobs are gained through networking.

20. People spend one in every four and a half minutes online on social networks and blogs.

And those are the (office) facts of life!

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NOVEMBER 28, 2012

The Power of Change

We like things the way we like them. We don’t have to think about it, it’s easy, it’s comfortable. It’s boring.

Change is the spice of life.

My wife loves to listen to Christmas music starting the first week of November. The switch to Christmas music is a welcome one. The change is nice. Then, in late December, the switch back to our normal music is just as welcome. Both changes satisfy some internal need.

We are programmed to notice changes. We notice changes in loved ones that signal they may need comfort or help. We notice that our wife got a haircut (or we learn to). We notice that construction has started on a new shopping center. We notice that our favorite French Fries have changed their formula again (not all change is good). The point is that we notice changes, and we come to need them.

Our brains have to work this way, otherwise we’d be fully focused on every detail of the world around us, even when those details aren’t changing. Our brains would overload and shut down. It’s just too much information to keep our attention on all at once.

Our brains, the very sophisticated organs that they are, have learned to apply this technique to patterns as well. When our marketing and branding efforts suffer from this problem, we call them stale.

Shaking things up in our marketing is one way to fix this problem, but it’s not a very sustainable one. We can’t constantly be trying to find new ways to do things—so maybe we can learn from Christmas music.

We can, if we properly establish patterns of change, create a sense of change that is manufactured, but that feels welcome and gains notice all the same. Some marketers do this by changing the whole look and feel of their campaigns to match the seasons (clothing companies are really good at this). Some might take advantage of the various holidays, perhaps sports seasons or themes.

A successful marketer will establish patterns of change to buy them the ongoing benefits of change, but will still brainstorm all year long for new ideas to shake things up. Putting the two of these techniques together will ensure your marketing efforts stay vibrant and fresh without fail.

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OCTOBER 29, 2012

Delusions of Grandeur

I remember a few years back when the 100 calorie snacks started to appear that I was excited by the proposition of a treat that was only 100 calories. I also remember the utterly devastating disappointment when I unwrapped my first 100 calorie snack.

It was tiny.

I remember thinking, “I could down this thing in three bites—and that’s if I take really small bites!”

Whenever I see marketing professionals engage in digital marketing and then get their first set of statistics, I feel a little like I’m watching myself open that 100 calorie dessert. I can see it in their eyes, they’re thinking, “there’s got to be more, right?”

That’s all the clicks we got? Shouldn’t there be more? Maybe my TV and newspaper ads were better after all. I’m not sure this digital advertising thing works.

With a standard click rate for banner advertising being less than 1 click per 1000 views, it can be discouraging to the novice digital marketer who is suffering a delusion of the grand all importance of click rates. But the successful digital marketer accepts this for what it is and moves on to working hard to get the best results possible for her business-recognizing that despite this seemingly tiny click rate, there is a lot of money to be made using digital advertising.

But one of the keys to success in digital advertising is to realize that digital advertising is not a magical, one pill cure all. And our expectations likely need to be adjusted based on a real understanding of how to market effectively in a digital world, and even more importantly, how to interpret the results.

The first thing we have to understand is that if our campaign lacks passion, then our results will too. Passion motivates us to focus and to give time to make a campaign the best it can be. The best campaigns will have higher click rates and higher close rates.

The second thing we all need to understand is that newspaper and television advertising had no interaction. There was no such thing as a click—and even so, people actually bought our products after seeing our ads, even though they didn’t click on anything. That hasn’t changed in the digital channel, and in fact, most of your success in an online campaign will come from people who saw your ad, but didn’t click. So, the clicks, seemingly small or not, are just the gravy—or the extra whip cream on the sundae. They are one of the things that add value to digital marketing that more traditional channels just don’t have, but all the value that traditional channels have is still there in the digital channel—with or without clicks.

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OCTOBER 29, 2012

Busy Badge

I recently listened to a very wise man talk about how we wear busyness as a badge of honor and how that may not be such a good thing.

There is nothing wrong per se with being busy. I think we all just need to take a look at the kind of busy we are. Are we busy making our products better or are we busy with the status quo? Are we busy chasing after the same old contacts or are we engaged in finding new and better prospects? Are we busy trying to make unsuccessful business models and plans work, or are we busy trying to find what truly works best for our business?  Are we busy chasing chickens, or are we busy getting out of the coop?

How many times have you been asked, “How are you?”, and your reply is “I’ve been really busy”?  I know I’m guilty of that! I think if we were busy doing meaningful things our answers would be different.

So my advice to you today, is to stop being busy with the mediocre and to start getting busy with the meaningful. If you do, you may just find that you aren’t as busy as you thought!

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SEPTEMBER 26, 2012

Acid Wash Jeans

Currently we are in the middle of moving to a new location. This will be a great move and opportunity for our company, but getting there is not so fun. I’m not sure I have ever met anyone that enjoys the physical part of moving. The packing, the cleaning, the unpacking, etc… Not to mention all of the address change forms, setting up your new internet. The list can go on and on…

As we all know the things that are worthwhile usually require lots of hard work and sometimes a little (or a lot) of pain. I’m trying to keep this in mind as I prepare for this move. I’m also trying to focus on junk removal (you know the boxes that never got opened the last time we moved several years ago).

I’m not sure what it is about human nature that makes us want to hang on to stuff that isn’t needed or that is really outdated. I’m not just talking about boxes or the pair of jeans you wore your senior year in high school that still hang in your closet. This goes for outdated marketing plans, processes, software, etc…

Marketing plans that worked 10-15 years ago are just plain outdated. If you aren’t segmenting, targeting and switching to digital channels, it is time you move on. Yes, it will be painful, but the rewards far outweigh any heavy lifting that will need to be done on the front end.

Sending your customers marketing communications about items they aren’t interested in or they just bought and now you are offering a bigger discount than what they received is like wearing those acid wash jeans from 1985 – it is not a good idea!

So throw away those jeans and get with the times!

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SEPTEMBER 26, 2012

Growth Feels Good

I have two daughters, born two years apart. The day that each of them became taller than their mother was a happy day for them. Each of them felt like it was an accomplishment. Now the girls are in a friendly contest to see who will end up the tallest. Each girl glories in the victory when she pulls ahead of her sister. Even my son, who is much younger, loves to see how tall he is compared to his mom and his sisters. He glories in the seemingly inevitable fact that eventually he will be taller than all three of them. As parents, my wife and I love to see them take joy in these small things.

Gardeners love to plant new life and watch it grow, knowing that their nurture will result in a stronger, more vibrant garden that will yield the best fruit, vegetables, or flowers possible. A young woman glories in her ability to train and exercise and as she sees her times diminish and her race results improve as she trains to be an Olympic swimmer. An addict experiences untold joy when he finally kicks a habit that has plagued him for years or decades.

A worker glories in his promotion. A mom relishes her son’s graduation from college. A dad cheers his daughter’s first steps, or cries just a little when he walks her down the aisle toward the new life she is starting with the man she loves.

Growth feels good.

It requires pain, effort, determination, patience, and many other qualities and actions from us, but when the growth comes, it feels so very good.

But more than anything else, growth requires change. The right kind of change, true, but it requires change. Stagnation is the enemy of growth.

If your marketing campaign, your job performance, or your life is stagnant, look around, find the right change and make it. Even if you’re not sure what the exact right change to make is, just make the best change you can. Without this, there can be no joy.

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AUGUST 31, 2012

Does Your Seasonal Wardrobe Need to Be Updated?

This coming weekend, is officially the last week of summer. It is a bittersweet time for me. I love the more relaxed days of summer, when my kids are out of school and our schedules aren’t jammed pack, but I look forward to the cooler autumn weather and getting routines back in place. I also look forward to my autumn wardrobe. I say bring on the jackets, sweaters, scarves and boots!

This got me thinking that maybe it is time to update my “seasonal wardrobe”.  Figuratively speaking, it may be time to place the white shoes back in the closet until spring or maybe it is time to add a few new pieces to enhance the old wardrobe. Also, it is important to realize when your customers change “seasons”.

You may not realize it, but most businesses (even outside retail) have seasons. It can be anything from when budgets get approved to their marketing schedule. Knowing this can help you in how you approach or market to them. Knowing these types of things can help you; let’s say wear the appropriate “shoes” for each season.

If your customer is an individual, it is also important to know their “seasonal” habits. Companies that make it a point to get to know their customers and then actually use that to target to their specific needs/wants are much more successful. Think of yourself as their “personal shopper”. If you can meet their expectations they will come to you for every season! We all love one stop shopping!

Happy Labor Day! May you each have a fabulous “Season”!

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AUGUST 31, 2012

The Call to Action

Almost a year and a half ago, the area we live in was hit hard by a series of tornadoes. The dangerous weather, and the warnings from the weather stations, started mid-morning and continued throughout the day. The small city where we live was reported throughout the day to be directly in the path of the dangerous weather conditions—and even of reported tornadoes.

My family of five spent most of the day packed into a small closet under the stairs, wondering what the day would bring. Our family has a great deal of experience with these things, having lived in tornado prone areas of Colorado, Illinois, and Alabama, but with that experience comes both a certain comfort as well as the knowledge that you never know how it will turn out.

When the day was done, every single tornado that touched down went to the west or the east, but they all missed us. Others were not so lucky.

As the danger finally passed, during the late evening, we were left without power. The phones weren’t working and cell phones weren’t working. We found one of our children’s radios and this became our lifeline to information about what had happened. Later that night, my daughter and I climbed into one of our cars and went to check on friends to make sure they were OK.

During the evening and over the weekend, it became clear that we were going to be without power for days or even possibly weeks and that many of our neighbors in surrounding communities were decimated, dealing with unimaginable tragedy. We were in shock. This kind of thing only ever happened to other people in other cities, in other states, or in other countries.

That Sunday we were still adjusting to this reality when a friend of mine called me and said he was going to go out and help those around us, would I like to go with him?

Of course! I should have thought of that myself!

I got dressed in a pair of thick jeans, a thick long sleeved shirt, and grabbed my leather gloves from the garage. My friend picked me up and we spent the rest of the day with tens of thousands of others helping people pick through the ruin of their homes to see if there was anything they could salvage, or to remove fallen trees and such from their homes or their yards. We did this more than once.

What made the difference between sitting at home, dazed and overwhelmed by what had happened to me and to my neighbors vs. actually going out and doing something to help? It was a call to action!

If you have a marketing campaign, sometimes it’s nice just to build your brand. Get people to know about you. But eventually, you need to have a call to action. You can’t just assume that everyone will see how awesome you are and know what they need to do to take advantage of your awesomeness. You need to tell them why they should do business with you and then tell them how.

And then make sure it’s easy to accomplish the call to action.

Give them a clear, compelling call to action.

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JULY 19, 2012

Excuse Me Please

I’m now in the phase of life where we are adding new drivers to our family every couple of years. As terrifying as that is, it is nothing compared to the horrifying visits we have to make to the DMV to make our children’s driving dreams a reality.

I’m beginning to think that the motor vehicle department actually trains their employees to be rude and sarcastic. I get that the lines are never ending, no one ever has all the correct forms and identifications, and the uniforms you have to wear are downright atrocious. But seriously, is life really that bad?

Unfortunately, the DMV is not the only place I have seen rudeness and indifference when it comes to customer service. So how do we prevent this from happening in our own places of business?

Here are a few suggestions:

• Brighten up your work space. The DMV is horribly drab and it makes me feel like I’m in a B rated horror film. Colors really can affect our moods. Even if you don’t have total control over what your office space looks like, keep it neat and clean and try and add a few personal effects, for a welcoming touch. At the very least have a picture of your family or your pets.

• Keep a good attitude. Remember no one can make your feel inferior without your permission. Also, no one can make you angry or mad. These are all choices we make ourselves. But, we can have a positive effect on those around us when we ourselves are positive.

• Perspective is also an important attribute. We all spend so much time at work, isn’t worth trying to make it as pleasant as possible.

• Last but not least is to remember the golden rule- Do unto others as you would have done to you.

Life is never perfect and no one can always be happy, but we can all try and be pleasant to one another.

Even if you work at the DMV!

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JULY 19, 2012

Risk is Part of the Price

If you get what you pay for, failing to pay the right price will lead to disappointment and failure.

When we’re evaluating whether or not we’re paying the right price to get the results we want, we need to remember that risk is a part of that price.

Those who founded this nation risked their property, their freedom, and even their lives to create something they thought would be great. What was the result of their risk? This nation, even with all of its imperfections, and the inspiring principles that founded it, have brought a level of freedom, wealth, and equality to the people of this world that is unsurpassed in history.

When an entrepreneur sets out to create something, they risk money and possibly even their financial future to create something they believe in. Without risks like this, we wouldn’t have Apple, Microsoft, Walt Disney, Pixar, and many, many other things we take for granted every day.

So, if you have an idea that you know needs to be realized, then take the leap. Roll the dice. And then work hard to make sure your idea comes to life.

Almost without fail, this is the only way to do something great.

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JUNE 26, 2012

Welcome to the New Era of “Free”

The definition of “free” in this context is: not costing or charging anything.

It’s easy to fall into a trap that says – if it’s free, it must not be worth much. However, in technology today, there is a mammoth movement towards free stuff and it is catching on. Examples of this model include these famous ones –

• Google – free for customers, paid with advertising like commercial TV

• Facebook – same as Google

• LinkedIn – free for basic version, paid premium version with additional features

• WordPress – free for basic version, paid premium services and features

What this proves is that something can be free and worth a lot, so, don’t automatically dismiss it.  Instead when you come across relevant software that is offered for free, spend some time to seriously examine the offer and look for the following –

1. Is the value proposition real?

• Take a close look at the value proposition promised to see if the product can help you in new and useful ways. If you cannot say yes to at least one of these types of questions, you should move on.

Will it help you save money?

Will it help you increase reach?

Will it help you be more productive?

Will it help you create new income?

Will it help you have fun?

2.    Is it simple to sign up for it?

• If sign-up is not automated and online, the product is already half-way towards failure.  If it requires a page or two of information before you can sign up, that’s a bad omen.

• Finally, the clincher, if a credit-card is required for a free product, I would ask myself, what’s the catch?

3.    Is it simple to use?

• Some of the most feature-rich products fail because they are too complex to use. So, even if it is free, it fails because of the extra overhead needed in order to utilize the potentially useful features of the software.

4. Does it provide the promised benefits?

• Can I tell fairly quickly after using it whether it is providing the promised value (or delivering an unexpected bonus)

:

Folks, welcome to the new era of promising technology and a worthy business model!

The benefits of something that is offered for free cannot be overlooked anymore.  Organizations and businesses around the world are using free products to do real and productive work.  This model allows customers to try out the software with no obligations, obtain value from it, and then decide if they want to get even more use or productivity or benefits.

In addition, many producers of technology wholeheartedly support this environment while also offering premium versions of their software for a cost. This premium version allows them to get revenue that can in turn be used to continue their investment in the software – both the free and premium versions of it.

It’s truly a win-win for everyone.

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JUNE 26, 2012

You Get What You Pay For

Marketing is important to every business. Without a means to let people know that your company exists, and to help them understand why it is that they might want or even need your products or services, none of us would ever gain any customers.

And as in any endeavor of importance, we need to understand that we get what we pay for.

From the title of this blog, you may think that I’m going to sell you on the idea of an expensive solution. At first blush, the idea that you get what you pay for might make you think that I’m saying the more expensive the solution, the more it will help you. You could make it your mission to find the most expensive marketing and sales products or services you can find.

The failure with this approach is that this is the lazy way out. Those who take this route are trying to take a shortcut, to get what they want without having to pay the true price required to find a good solution—research and analysis. The end result of the desire to pay less, the result of a shortcut, is that you get what you pay for. A lousy product or service (not to mention a reduced budget).

The right product or service might be inexpensive or it might be expensive. However, you must put the time, energy, and thought into finding the right solution—then the price you pay for it, whether inexpensive or expensive, will be the right price. But don’t forget that the right price will include putting the time, energy, and thought into those things that are necessary to use that product or service effectively.

Whether it is a marketing project, a hiring decision, a response to a customer concern, or identifying the right products or services to help you excel at your tasks, you must decide what you want.

Do you want good enough? Do you want something better than that? Do you want something exceptional?

Then find out what you need to do to get what you want and then do it.

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MAY 25, 2012

Blank Slate

This past month my house has been undergoing a mini transformation. New paint, some new furniture, new window coverings and some rearrangement of older furniture and pictures have all been included. My favorite part was when the painting was complete and the walls were blank and the rooms were mostly bare. I loved the feeling of having a blank slate to work with. It opened my mind to the different possibilities and helped me to see how I could redo things as well as helping me to see that some things were great just the way they were.

Sometimes in business we may find things are getting too complicated, so it may be time to throw out all assumptions and start with a blank slate. You may even need to bring in an outsider for help. Sometimes we can be too close to a situation to really see all of the possibilities and solutions. But, hopefully you will find that once you have a clean slate, your creative juices will flow and you will see if and where changes need to be made.

Here are some examples of areas that you may want to look at:

• Moving from print to digital (this includes everything from invoicing to advertising).

• Simplifying contracts and allowing for easier sign ups.

• Rearranging the talent pool in the office.

• Are your processes out dated? Can you automate any of these?

• What about different verticals?

• Refreshing or updating your marketing messages and branding.

• At the very least you can update and rearrange your working space. And the mom in me has to say cleaning your workspace works wonders too!

I didn’t have to do a major remodel on my home to make a huge difference. The same is true for your business; a little change can make a huge difference!

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MAY 25, 2012

The Death of Print: Is it Time to Abandon Ship?

This is just another sign to prove that what we’re all hearing about is true: Print is dying. Not that long ago, I was managing print operations for a company that was struggling because of the diminishing print industry.

On May 24th, there was an article (click here to see New York Times article) in the New York Times reporting that the Times Picayune, which has been around for 175 years is reducing its printing schedule to three days a week, becoming the first paper of its size to make this move. The article also references the same survival measures being taken by smaller papers, including our own Huntsville Times. Since I haven’t received a print newspaper for several years, this is no surprise to me, and it doesn’t directly affect me, but I do feel a sense of sadness at what feels like the passing of an age.

This is just another sign to prove that what we’re all hearing about is true: Print is dying. Not that long ago, I was managing print operations for a company that was struggling because of the diminishing print industry. In the past six years printers have been closing their doors at an increasing rate all over the country—some that have been in business for more than a hundred years. There is mounting pressure to cut prices, which means operating on leaner margins, resulting in the need to reduce wages and maintain fewer employees in order to just survive.

So, if we haven’t seen skyrocketing costs for print media yet (mark my words, that day is coming), why should we move away from this medium now?

Because what’s even more important than knowing what is happening in the print industry is knowing why. Print is diminishing because more and more consumers want to receive their news and other communications through the digital medium (hint: this is why the post office recently needed a federal bailout as well).

And here is what matters to us: We shouldn’t be making the switch away from print because print is dying; we should make the switch to digital because this is how our prospects and customers want to receive these types of communications. To most consumers, when we ignore this trend, we look outdated, inflexible, unresponsive, and uncaring.

If print is still working for you, and you’re still getting good prices, then you don’t need to abandon that medium just yet, but you do need to add digital channels. In addition to appealing to your customers and prospects, you will see these benefits as well: better tracking of campaigns and results, more opportunities to communicate with your customers, better cross-sale rates, and increased loyalty. Who wouldn’t want these things?

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APRIL 30, 2012

Do You Click on Billboards?

Since the inception of the internet, businesses and individuals have been trying to figure out how to make money off of it. One of the clearest, and sometimes most infamous, ways businesses make money off the internet is through advertising.

And one of the most exciting things the internet brought to the world of advertising was the ability for the users to interact with the advertisement. This interaction could be captured, catalogued, and tracked. This interaction was given the highly imaginative name of “click”.

Companies that eagerly moved into online advertising were excited that they could see the clicks. They couldn’t see this with television, newspaper, magazine, or billboard ads. This was something tangible, it was a step up from these other non-interactive mediums.

Online ad agencies saw the excitement that the interactive “click” brought to their prospective customers and certainly weren’t going to dissuade them. If the click was what was drawing customers in, then there was no need to tout any other values. “Yeah, the click makes us better!” they would say. And people believed them, because it was true—sort of.

But you see, hiding in the shadows, there was a stowaway—a lie that hitched a ride with the truth that the ability to track a click was a good thing. This lie was that the click was all that mattered.

Do television ads still work? The easy answer is, of course they do. Despite the fact that online advertising is growing at a rapid pace, tens of billions of dollars are spent on television advertising each year. And despite the fact that print is declining, it also still accounts for billions in advertising dollars. And you can’t click a T.V. (yet) or a newspaper or magazine. You can’t click a billboard. But it still works.

The most overlooked aspect of online advertising is the fact that ads that were seen, but not clicked, still influenced behavior. In fact, studies have shown that more money is made on ads that were seen, but not clicked than on ads that were clicked on. Let’s say that again. Most online marketing campaigns close more deals and make more money off of online visitors who saw the ad, but didn’t click than they do off of those who clicked on the ads. And here’s why:

Let’s imagine that we’re running an online ad campaign and that the click-through rate we get is 1% (which is higher than today’s industry average for click-through rates). This means that if 1000 people saw the banners, 10 would have clicked. If 30% of those who clicked on the banner purchased, then we would have conversions among those who clicked. However, we still have 990 people who only saw the banner and if only 7% of them purchase, then this means that we would have 70 purchases. Thus, the conversion rates were lower with our “Post-Impression” group, because they only had a 7% conversion rate—compared to a 30% conversion rate for those who clicked, but the actual number of conversions was higher for those who only saw the banners.  The following chart uses one of DeepTarget’s customer campaigns actual results to illustrate the larger number of conversions from those who only saw the banner.

One study, published by emarketer.com, notes that almost eighty percent of conversions come from those who saw an ad, but didn’t click (see the Post-Impression stat on the second chart):

http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1008045

Another study, also by emarketer.com, gives some reasons why people would be interested in the product they see in an online ad, but would choose not to click:

http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1008620&R=1008620

So, knowing your click-through rates is good, but if you let the story stop there, you’re missing the best part.

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APRIL 30, 2012

Do You Click on Billboards?

Since the inception of the internet, businesses and individuals have been trying to figure out how to make money off of it. One of the clearest, and sometimes most infamous, ways businesses make money off the internet is through advertising.

And one of the most exciting things the internet brought to the world of advertising was the ability for the users to interact with the advertisement. This interaction could be captured, catalogued, and tracked. This interaction was given the highly imaginative name of “click”.

Companies that eagerly moved into online advertising were excited that they could see the clicks. They couldn’t see this with television, newspaper, magazine, or billboard ads. This was something tangible, it was a step up from these other non-interactive mediums.

Online ad agencies saw the excitement that the interactive “click” brought to their prospective customers and certainly weren’t going to dissuade them. If the click was what was drawing customers in, then there was no need to tout any other values. “Yeah, the click makes us better!” they would say. And people believed them, because it was true—sort of.

But you see, hiding in the shadows, there was a stowaway—a lie that hitched a ride with the truth that the ability to track a click was a good thing. This lie was that the click was all that mattered.

Do television ads still work? The easy answer is, of course they do. Despite the fact that online advertising is growing at a rapid pace, tens of billions of dollars are spent on television advertising each year. And despite the fact that print is declining, it also still accounts for billions in advertising dollars. And you can’t click a T.V. (yet) or a newspaper or magazine. You can’t click a billboard. But it still works.

The most overlooked aspect of online advertising is the fact that ads that were seen, but not clicked, still influenced behavior. In fact, studies have shown that more money is made on ads that were seen, but not clicked than on ads that were clicked on. Let’s say that again. Most online marketing campaigns close more deals and make more money off of online visitors who saw the ad, but didn’t click than they do off of those who clicked on the ads. And here’s why:

Let’s imagine that we’re running an online ad campaign and that the click-through rate we get is 1% (which is higher than today’s industry average for click-through rates). This means that if 1000 people saw the banners, 10 would have clicked. If 30% of those who clicked on the banner purchased, then we would have conversions among those who clicked. However, we still have 990 people who only saw the banner and if only 7% of them purchase, then this means that we would have 70 purchases. Thus, the conversion rates were lower with our “Post-Impression” group, because they only had a 7% conversion rate—compared to a 30% conversion rate for those who clicked, but the actual number of conversions was higher for those who only saw the banners.  The following chart uses one of DeepTarget’s customer campaigns actual results to illustrate the larger number of conversions from those who only saw the banner.

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APRIL 30, 2012

Blunder or Blessing?

April 23rd marked the anniversary of one of the biggest marketing mistakes of all time, or at least it seemed so at the time.  For those of us old enough to remember that fateful day in 1985, when The Coca-Cola Company announced that they would be changing their 99 year old formula and calling it New Coke, it set off a fire storm of protests, calls, and news stories like you wouldn’t believe.  All over a soft drink?

Did Coca-Cola make a mistake? Plenty of people at the time thought so. But as we look back, it might be one of the smartest things they ever did.  Coca-Cola didn’t make this decision lightly.  At the time they were losing the Cola Wars and sales had been slipping for some time, so they needed to do something to re-energize their brand.  Of course they couldn’t have predicted the mass chaos that ensued with their announcement.  They also couldn’t have predicted that the people’s hatred for New Coke would be their saving grace.

Why was it their saving grace?  Because it reminded people how much they loved Classic Coke.  It was more than just the taste; it was an emotional response for many.  Coke had actually done taste tests and found that many people liked the taste of New Coke better. But Coke, to many, was more than a drink – it was a reminder of good times and perhaps simpler times.

So what lessons can we learn from this:

• Emotions are powerful.

• Sometimes failure can be a good thing, as long as it is responded to properly and learned from.  Every company will make mistakes!

• Sometimes research results are better left in the lab.

• Customer loyalty is important.

• Last but not least- sometimes our blunders can be blessings!

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MARCH 28, 2012

The Marketing Sleuths

There are two skills that are important for the marketer that is trying to find the perfect match of product and consumer. The first, because it came first, is the very personable skill of being able to “read” people. Can you tell that a person is nervous, scared, happy, or in love just by looking at them, even if they are a perfect stranger? Do you ask people questions that help you get to know them? Do you learn what their likes and dislikes are?

The second skill is the ability to work with data. What zip code does the person live in? What is their income? Are they married? Do they have children? Can you write queries that use these data fields to find all of the right consumers and only the right consumers?

Both skills are extremely important, but using both of these skills at the same time can launch your effective statistics for targeting deep into the solar system.

Why?

Because the first person knows what you need to know in order to match up a product with a consumer and the second knows how to find everyone who meets the conditions. It’s like having your own team of Holmes and Watson working together to turn your marketing efforts into gold.

With proper targeting, you can lower your costs and raise your returns at the same time. In today’s economy, who couldn’t use that?

Any modern marketing department and project should be constructed so that these two needs are met.

If you ever find a single person who can do both, don’t let them get away!

MARCH 28, 2012

In Honor of Women’s History Month

Did you know that younger women are now more likely than their male counterparts to hold a college degree and that the number of men and women in the labor force has nearly equalized?

Did you know that younger women are now more likely than their male counterparts to hold a college degree and that the number of men and women in the labor force has nearly equalized?

Hopefully, as a business owner or marketer, you’re paying attention to that statistic and many others like it. Why? Because therein lies buying power and purchasing influence. And, as we all know, men and women are different. What appeals to one, might not to the other.

Not only are women increasing in the work force, but they are a powerhouse in the social scene. I personally have had several friends that started blogs as hobbies and have seen them turn these hobbies into well-paying careers.

What about the new social media darling, Pinterest? In the United States 83% of the users are women. Pinterest gained 13 million users in just 10 months. Most of them are women. Did you know that more women turn to Pinterest than Twitter when it comes to getting product information and advice? I for one will admit how much I enjoy Pinterest! I can’t tell you how often I have heard someone ask a question like, “How did you make that?” or “How did you learn to do that?” And then the person who was asked the question responds this way: “Are you on Pinterest? You should follow me—that’s where I got the idea.”

Have you changed your marketing plans based on any of the information above? Do you have any women centric campaigns?

I would also love to hear how you are using Pinterest to increase your company’s visibility.

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FEBRUARY 28, 2012

An Order of Personalization Please, Hold the Creepy

Targeting and personalization are proven methods to effectively increase the appeal of your marketing efforts, and as a result, their success. However, just like so many other effective tools, these must be used correctly or the hoped for uptick in effectiveness could actually turn into a depressing downtick.

We’ve all seen personalization done wrong and I think you’ll agree, it usually comes across as a little creepy, maybe even more than a little. So, how do we know if we’re using personalization correctly?

First, ask yourself the question, why are targeting and personalization effective?

They are effective because you offer products that are more likely to appeal to the consumer and because your message is more warm and personal. Think of the old time ma and pop store where the store owners know everyone who comes through the door. They know who just got married, who might be thinking about it, who just had a baby, who is working on building another room in their farm-house, who just acquired a huge number of cattle and is working on repairing a fence.

But the reason ma and pop don’t come across as creepy is because there is a relationship there which promotes dialog and everyone involved knows they got their “data” through natural means. They either got their information straight from their customer or from another customer who knows them.

There are reports that the national retailer Target is identifying pregnant women by their purchases and target marketing to them. We see here that even big companies have trouble figuring out how to target and personalize appropriately. The point is, a pregnant woman may be keeping the pregnancy secret, but Target doesn’t know that because they gained their data through artificial means—means that some feel invades privacy. Ma and Pop would either be in the dark about the pregnancy or would know that it’s a secret and act accordingly.

Here are some simple rules to help keep your marketing warm and personal without the creepy:

1. Normally, use naturally obtained data for Targeted marketing.

2. If you use artificially obtained data for Targeting, make it subtle and seemingly random (an envelope full of baby offers isn’t subtle or random).

3. Never use artificially obtained data for Targeting if the data might be sensitive.

4. Use ONLY naturally obtained data for Personalization. Period.

5. Use opportunities provided by teller interactions, social media interactions, and online surveys to gain more data through natural means.

6. Whenever you use data that a recipient might be surprised you have, remind them how you got the data: Hey, on a recent questionnaire we sent you, you indicated you were interested in abc…or, Hey, when you were in our branch recently, you indicated you were interested in xyz.

7. Let people know you use targeted and personalized marketing and tell them how they can opt out.

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FEBRUARY 16, 2012

Limitations?

I recently encountered a sweet older gentleman jogging in our neighborhood. He was dressed in just a plain button up shirt, jeans and tennis shoes. He didn’t have on any of the latest electronic gadgets or listening devices.  Not only did this scene make me smile, but it got me to thinking about the limitations we may unnecessarily place on ourselves personally and professionally.

Many of us (myself included) would feel the need to have what we consider “proper” exercise attire on before we left our homes to exercise. I wouldn’t dream of going to the gym without my iPhone and ear buds securely in place around my arm. But, honestly is all of that truly necessary to exercise? The answer is, of course, “No”. When I was growing up, I exercised all the time without these items. Now of course they are nice things to have, but if I had to, I could do without them.

Often times I think we place limitations on our businesses because we don’t think we have all the “proper” attire. We make excuses for why things can’t get done because of things we think we lack or things we think we really need. What we really need to do is step back and look at each situation and assess if we are holding ourselves back based on true needs or wants disguised as needs.

In today’s economy many of us have to find more ways to do more with fewer funds. We may not be able to afford all the fancy exercise attire and electronics now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t exercise! Necessity can be the mother of invention and ingenuity.

So stop placing unnecessary limitations on yourself and your business and go out and get the job done!

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JANUARY 26, 2012

Foundations

There are some homes near the downtown area of the small city in which we live that are undergoing a very interesting maintenance. The homes have been moved off of their foundations so that the foundations can be rebuilt. Clearly, the homes are still viable, but the foundations are crumbling under them. Without drastic work to rebuild those foundations, the homes would be lost.

It seems to me that there is a parallel with established businesses. Each and every business had a beginning. Each and every business had to fight to convince real people to buy their products. Each business started with a foundation that allowed them to become viable. But along the way, a business can lose their focus and the foundation can begin to crumble. When a business becomes comfortable, it can begin to relax on things like quality control and customer service. As a business grows, sometimes complex bureaucracies and/or silo structures form. An established business loses the desire to take chances—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

When these things happen, a business needs leaders who can see that the foundation is crumbling, leaders that will make the decision to make drastic changes when necessary to restore the strength of the foundation. What choices can you make now to ensure you’re destined to be one of those leaders?

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JANUARY 23, 2012

Are you socially savvy?

Over the weekend my husband and I had an unexpected opportunity to have dinner with a gentleman that is running for congress in the state of Texas. After our brief encounter, I went home and googled him. To be quite honest I was very surprised by my findings.

Even though he gave a passionate and dynamic speech and he obviously moved many of those that attended his conference, his online presence was just the opposite. His website was a mess and looked unprofessional. He had no Facebook page and has never tweeted once.

In 2012, companies and people are not only judged by real life encounters, but also by their social media persona. Many people, like myself, expect companies and politicians to be socially savvy (online and offline). When that expectation is not met, there are usually plenty of other choices for us to move on to.

Being social media savvy will become more and more important as time goes on. As a mother of teenagers, I know firsthand where the rising generation gets their information (Here is a hint…it’s not offline). The great news is that, for the most part, it’s free and easy.

Fortunately for this politician, I was able to talk to him after my findings and give him a little friendly advice. My advice to him and you is:

• Clean up your website. Less is more in most cases. This is one area you may need to spend some money and hire a professional, but it will be money well spent. This becomes your online face.

• Get a presence on Facebook! Post often. This is completely free!

• Get a Twitter account. The great thing about having both FB and Twitter is that you can connect them. Anything you post on FB becomes a tweet.

• Start collecting email addresses from your admirers and customers. Email is still a very effective way to communicate. It is also very inexpensive.

And of course…. Don’t forget to be socially savvy offline too!

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JANUARY 23, 2012

Are you socially savvy?

Over the weekend my husband and I had an unexpected opportunity to have dinner with a gentleman that is running for congress in the state of Texas. After our brief encounter, I went home and googled him. To be quite honest I was very surprised by my findings.

Even though he gave a passionate and dynamic speech and he obviously moved many of those that attended his conference, his online presence was just the opposite. His website was a mess and looked unprofessional. He had no Facebook page and has never tweeted once.

In 2012, companies and people are not only judged by real life encounters, but also by their social media persona. Many people, like myself, expect companies and politicians to be socially savvy (online and offline). When that expectation is not met, there are usually plenty of other choices for us to move on to.

Being social media savvy will become more and more important as time goes on. As a mother of teenagers, I know firsthand where the rising generation gets their information (Here is a hint…it’s not offline). The great news is that, for the most part, it’s free and easy.

Fortunately for this politician, I was able to talk to him after my findings and give him a little friendly advice. My advice to him and you is:

• Clean up your website. Less is more in most cases. This is one area you may need to spend some money and hire a professional, but it will be money well spent. This becomes your online face.

• Get a presence on Facebook! Post often. This is completely free!

• Get a Twitter account. The great thing about having both FB and Twitter is that you can connect them. Anything you post on FB becomes a tweet.

• Start collecting email addresses from your admirers and customers. Email is still a very effective way to communicate. It is also very inexpensive.

And of course…. Don’t forget to be socially savvy offline too!

Marketing Musings 2011 (ARCHIVE)

NOVEMBER 29, 2011

Landing Pages – Cutting Through the Red Tape

Websites are one of the best marketing tools any organization has at their disposal. In their most basic form, web pages can provide much needed information that visitors are looking for. However, effective web pages go much further than that. An enthusiastic and inventive marketer can use web pages to take a casual interest and turn it into a decision to buy—they can even create interest by introducing new ideas or helping a visitor to see how valuable your product or service might be for them. Ideally, the page will even give the visitor an option to take action, to take the next step or make the final purchase online.

However, website creation and design is a HUGE task that often has layers and layers of bureaucracy entwined in it. The marketing department often has to compete with other departments with regard to content and sometimes has very little influence. And once the website is built, the opportunities to change it are limited or non-existent. Because of this, landing pages are a must have for today’s savvy marketer.

Small and medium sized businesses are often saddled with websites that have too little or no relevant information on their websites—especially information relevant to current marketing efforts. Landing pages provide an easy way for the marketer to make attractive, branded pages so visitors can receive relevant up to date information.

Businesses of all sizes can use landing pages to get around the red tape involved with changes to the main website, so that even larger businesses can have online marketing efforts that are agile and responsive—something that every business needs to survive in today’s fast paced buying and purchasing world.

But how do you make effective landing pages?

The key to an effective landing page is to keep the marketing message compelling, short and focused and to include a call to action on the landing page—a signup for more information, an application, etc.

Using landing pages can help any marketer effectively convert online advertising into greater interest and closed deals. So, if you aren’t using landing pages yet, why not?

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NOVEMBER 22, 2011

Are you in the “Zone”?

I read an anonymous quote recently that really made me stop and think. It read- “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. I thought about that for a moment and realized that almost every success in my life has come after I stepped out of my comfort zone. This has been true both professionally and personally.

It is so easy to get caught up in our everyday routines that sometimes we miss out on what could be great moments for us. Also, I think many times we forget that it is ok to push ourselves or we give up when things become hard. Just because something may be hard doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing it. We forget that the successes we see around usually came after many hours of hard work and I dare say many failures.

So at this time of year when many of us take time to reflect on the things we are thankful for, I challenge you take time to reflect on how you are living your life. Are you in the comfort zone? If the answer is yes, I leave you with this final thought from Catherine Pulsifer, Glass Artist and Author –

“If you remain in your comfort zone you will not go any further”.

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OCTOBER 27, 2011

What’s your Social Media Strategy?

HINT (and the good news): It doesn’t have to be complicated!

It doesn’t matter what industry analysis or media report you read these days, it’s quite obvious that the time that people are spending on social media is growing.  And growing…

*According to a new Nielsen report, social media’s growth connects people with just about everything they watch and buy.

Yet, many businesses have yet to venture into this new territory with their presence.  Many have ventured in, but with what I would call a cursory approach.  They may have a Facebook page and a Twitter account but these just continue to languish.   However, a few brave souls have done a lot more.  I can virtually guarantee that these businesses are reaping solid returns as a result, and that this is just the beginning of good things for them.

One reason that businesses hesitate is because they just don’t know what needs to be done. So, I thought I would piece together some ideas for your consumption and thought process so that you can potentially arrive at a strategy and plan for your business or financial institution.

Let’s begin with a basic premise –

Sooner or later, you have to create a presence on social networks.

If you disagree with this, you should probably stop reading now.

Now, I’m going to pretend that I am speaking to someone in the marketing department of a financial institution.  Important message to you:

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SEPTEMBER 29, 2011

What are you selling online?

There has been a lot of activity lately with companies and services promoting merchant offers and rewards to your customers and members.  These programs are typically prearranged discount offers from national and local merchants based on membership, or they are targeted from analyzing transactions to pinpoint relevant offers and additional savings opportunities.  These offers are easy to redeem, attractive to customers, and provide a potential significant revenue source to the financial institution.

Two of the new features of these programs, and I think the most important to their success, is that they are communicated through online channels and they are easy to use/redeem.  But are we giving the same attention to targeting and promoting our own products through online channels?  As more and more customers log in rather than drive in, are you maximizing the opportunity to anticipate what they need from you, their financial institution?  And are you making it easy for them to see your offer, get more information, or apply?

The financial industry is changing in both products and delivery channels.  But we have to remember one of the basic reasons we are in business in the first place – to be consistently available to our customers/members when their life stage, or life events, drive the need for financial products and services at a fair price with great service and convenience.  As your customers take advantage of the convenient online options you have given them, you should also take advantage of this dedicated opportunity to remind them that you are ready to provide the financial products and services they need today.

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SEPTEMBER 26, 2011

Your Wife is Hot Part II

First of all, I want to say thank you to all of you that read my last blog entitled “Your Wife is Hot”. It received our highest click-through rate of any blog ever placed in our newsletter. That click-through rate actually proved how brilliant that ad campaign truly was.  It also proved the age old adage that sex sells. Or, even what we perceive may be sexy. Obviously, the original campaign and my blog post had nothing to do with sex per se, but the title was obviously very enticing, as was the billboard.

It’s certainly possible to go overboard, and I’m sure we’ve all seen the tasteless ads that result from marketers taking this little trick too far, but I think adding a little tasteful spice to campaigns where appropriate is a great tool.

I would love to hear from you about any clever enticements that you have seen or used. And if you have never considered taking this route in your campaigns, you may want to give it a try!

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AUGUST 25, 2011

Your wife is hot!

What do you think about that? That statement had our little city abuzz this summer. That phrase just happened to be on billboards all over town. Everyone was talking about it. No one knew who or why they had been put up, but you really wanted to know who and why.

Finally, we had our answers when the rest of the billboard messages were put up several weeks later. It was an air conditioning company. I have to say bravo to their marketing department or company. It was a brilliant campaign that everyone was talking about. I hope it translated into increased sales for them! I know one thing for sure; they got people talking about them.

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AUGUST 25, 2011

Farewell to Steve Jobs

Today I woke up to a world that is a little different than it was yesterday. Collectively, we have experienced a loss. The loss is not tragic on a scale like so many things we see in the news—no, compared to those it is a small, quiet loss. But the loss is real.

I am a Microsoft guy when it comes to computers and an Android guy when it comes to phones and tablets, though I have to admit that I love my iPod Touch. I tell myself, and others when the opportunity arises, that I make this choice because of the developer tools and options that are available for my chosen platforms. In order to develop for Apple products, you have to have a Mac.

Many of my colleagues and friends like to joke with me about my love affair with Microsoft, often sending me articles praising some recent win by Apple. My brother-in-law is a Mac guy and takes special pains to rub it in when Apple accomplishes something noteworthy. They all seem to think I see Apple as a personal adversary.

Not so. I have admired Steve Jobs for a very long time. He has been a giant in the industry, an unrivaled visionary, and an inspiration to entrepreneurs. His competitors are what they are today largely because of his influence.

Steve Jobs brought the master craftsman’s mindset to the process of creating hardware and software. Although he was eccentric, he refused to create anything that wasn’t great. In a world where businesses regularly insist on cutting corners and doing things just good enough—in order to keep costs down, Steve Jobs showed us that reaching higher could really pay off—and by doing so, he lifted us all. The story of Pixar, in which Steve Jobs also played an essential role, is one of my greatest sources of professional inspiration.

I have no doubt that in his new, smaller circle of influence, Steve Jobs will continue to be an inspiration. Perhaps, if each of us made the choice to pursue excellence within our circles of influence the way Steve Jobs has, collectively we could lift our world just a little bit too.

I know Steve Jobs has just moved on to other things, but he will be missed.

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JULY 27, 2011

Start the sales process to enjoy success in marketing

DeepTarget is thrilled to release a new and powerful capability to drive better results for your digital marketing efforts.  When working with our clients and studying best practice digital marketing companies we found that while much effort is expended getting your cross-sell message out to your customers, much less thought is put into managing the response.  What happens when a customer clicks on your cross-sell message within your online or mobile banking site or email?

• Are you answering their questions?

• Are you giving them the information they want or need?

• Are you engaging them to take action or a point of view?

• Are you capturing the lead?

If not, you truly have a lost sales and marketing opportunity on your hands.

Keeping this in mind, we made a solid investment over the past few months to provide you with new capabilities that can help you make the most of every lead you capture.  We are excited to announce that last week we upgraded DeepTarget OLB to include a new landing page engine.  Even better, all of our customers will get this new capability at no additional cost.

Simply directing a click-through to your website rate page or standard product information can be ineffective or at least unknown.  The largest percentage of click visitors will leave within 8 seconds, many times before the page finishes loading.  The second largest percentage will decide that your landing page isn’t compelling or provide them what they are looking for.  A smaller percentage will attempt to fill out a contact form to become a lead. Effective landing pages can mean the difference between web traffic and a steady stream of leads and applications.

There is a lot of information available on the internet and marketing blogs with tips on creating effective landing pages.  The best landing pages focus on quickly answering three questions:

• What are you offering? – reinforce why they clicked in the first place.

• Why should they care? – within 5 seconds the value to them should be clear and compelling.

• What do they need to do? – Simple forms, large/prominent buttons so they are confident they will get what they need from you like a call back, the right information link, or the ability to easily apply.

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JUNE 28, 2011

The Pursuit of Excellence

The other day I was sitting on a bench at the end of a small basketball court at our local Y watching my young son practice dribbling the ball. His coach was trying to teach the young boys several advanced dribbling techniques, like dribbling behind the back and between the legs.

I’ve seen enough movies, television shows, and commercials to know that it’s just not right to put too much pressure on a young boy to perform. And although I agree with this modern wisdom, I can’t help but want my son to be, if not the best, at least good. And so I got a little nervous when I noticed that he was going slower than most of the other boys on the team. This seemed odd, because he’s one of the better players on his team. But, knowing my love for my son and the dangers of speaking rashly, I bit my tongue and didn’t say anything.

However, as I sat and watched him struggle with these advanced moves, I started to notice that he was going slower than the other boys because he was really trying to get it. Several of the other boys had mostly given up and were going fast because they weren’t really trying. I realized that the fact that he was going slower might have given the illusion that the other boys were better, because they were faster, but in reality, he was building skills that would give him the advantage in scrimmages and games—because my son, wiser than his father, found the pursuit of excellence to be more important than how his peers might perceive him.

How often in life do we miss out on the opportunity to pursue excellence because we’re afraid that we’re getting passed by? Or that we’re doing it different from everyone else? Or that we might look foolish to our peers?

Walt Disney said “I am not influenced by the techniques or fashions of any other motion picture company.” He also said, “We created Disneyland, in the knowledge that most of the people I talked to thought it would be a financial disaster—closed and forgotten within the first year.”

Very few individuals can claim to have had a greater impact on modern culture and entertainment than Walt Disney. Excellence requires a single minded pursuit that may not ignore everything around it, but certainly isn’t distracted by it.

Make the decision to pursue excellence today and follow through. If you do, and endure through the trials that will undoubtedly come, you’re guaranteed to create something of real value. The thing you create might be different than what you initially set out for, but it will have value. And you will find, like Walt Disney, that when you pursue excellence, your accomplishments will inspire others to do the same. Can any of us hope for a better legacy than that?

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JUNE 27, 2011

A Man of Few Words

I’m not a huge fan of television, so much so that I did away with cable last year. But, there is one show that I absolutely love and I am thrilled when I can catch it at the gym or online. The cast of characters is brilliant, but there is one character in particular that absolutely makes the show. One of his greatest attributes is the fact that he doesn’t really say much. The actor that portrays this character is amazing. Though he may have very few lines, viewers always know exactly what his character is thinking and feeling.

There is much to be said for using fewer words in many aspects of business and life. Here is my list of where I think this principle could be applied.

• Fewer words should be used in presentations and power points. Try demonstrating something instead. You can talk at your prospect all day long but, they probably still don’t get what you do. So, show them what you do and what it can do for them.

• There is nothing worse than a long drawn out meeting. So, take the time to send out everything you can in an email beforehand and then only discuss the items that truly have merit to be a discussion. Also, have a well planned out agenda and stick to it! It may be that you have to set a timer. That has worked wonders for me.

• What about your website? Is it cluttered? It should be clean and precise. If you need a great example take a look at Apple’s homepage.

• How do you handle your PR? Are you always telling people how wonderful your company and products are? Words can only go so far here. If your customer service is awful or your products don’t live up to the hype, your words will be meaningless.

To say it as succinctly as possible: Never say in a hundred words what you can say in ten.

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MAY 19, 2011

In Honor of Grandmothers

I would like to take a moment and honor grandmothers. This past month as we have celebrated Mother’s Day as well as the passing of my husband’s beloved grandmother, I have contemplated the magnificent lives of these women. These women sent husbands off to war not knowing if or when they would return. They were able to make do with very little, but always seemed to have enough to share. They sewed, danced, grew gardens, played the piano, sang and took elocution lessons. Life was harder for them than it is for my generation, but they didn’t complain, they just kept moving forward. Their children had diseases like measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox. They feared polio and cheered for the miracle of antibiotics. They kept their families together through thick and thin and made it seem effortless. Their examples of love and service have endeared them to each member of their family.

As I think of all the luxuries and conveniences that our grandmothers did not have, I really am in awe of all that they accomplished. They had to work very hard to accomplish some of the same tasks that literally take me minutes to do now. I think this hard work is where they learned to be the wonderful women that they were and are. In some regards my generation has lost the fine art of working hard and patience.

We now live in a world of on demand. Case in point…. As we were traveling to Arizona to attend the funeral of my husband’s grandmother, he and I were reminiscing about an album we loved as kids. No more than two minutes later it was purchased on my iPhone through iTunes and we were singing to it happily.

Believe me; I’m very grateful for technology and all its wonderment. But, I’m even more grateful for the wonders of hardworking and patient grandmothers who have taught us what really matters most and how to get a job done well.

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MAY 4, 2011

Lost in the (Facebook) Crowd

There is a great debate over the positives and negatives of tracking us when we are online, and no doubt, one side of that creeps me out.

But there is another side, the side of “I know you, I do business wit

h you, I interact with you regularly, so you ought to know me, too.”  From that perspective there are many benefits to some of the online tracking, and I want those benefits.

Working in digital marketing, perhaps I am just uber-sensitive to tracking and targeting and what software ought to be able to do, but I was hit twice this morning with mildly frustrating experiences that, although minor, could have been avoided altogether with the right kind of data management and tracking (and would have subsequently provided the customer – me – with a much better experience):

First, this morning Facebook sent me an email telling me: “You haven’t been back to Facebook recently. You have received notifications while you were gone.” I did have some notifications, and it’s true that I do not login to Facebook as often as a lot of others I know, however, I had just logged in YESTERDAY.  How did Facebook not know that? Or at least not “know” enough to not send me an email saying I hadn’t been to Facebook “recently”?  I realize you have over 600 million users, but even so, you know ME, don’t you Facebook?

Second, no too long after I also received an email from WhichTestWon, a testing website I subscribe to.  I get their weekly email alerting me that a new test is up to review.  When I clicked on the link in that email, it took me to the test (no problem so far), but within a few seconds of getting on the page a full screen takeover ad popped up to invite me to sign up for their weekly test email notifications.  BUT I JUST CLICKED THAT EMAIL TO GET HERE BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN SIGNED UP FOR MONTHS!!!  Granted, I am not signed into their website, so they might not know it’s ME per se, but shouldn’t they be able to know that I got to the page by clicking through the email they are now inviting me to sign up for?

With all of the amazing technology at our fingertips, I believe we must do better.

What about you – do companies or sites you frequent ever make you feel lost in the crowd?

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APRIL 25, 2011

Is it Just Me?

Last week as we were coming upon Easter, I received a barrage of emails from different retailers touting all of their sales and trying to entice me into their stores. I actually received one that really caught my eye and was going to make it a point to get to that store. The subject line indicated that on Friday, they would have a coupon for 50% off of your entire purchase. This was actually exciting to me as I have never seen this particular retailer offer such a generous promotion and I really like their products (albeit they are overpriced in my mind). I made a mental note to click the link later in the day and get my coupon.  I also made a list of what I was going to purchase there.

Later that evening when I had a moment to breathe, I logged back into my email account to retrieve my golden ticket as it were, but instead of my golden ticket, I received a royal goose egg. There just happened to be a second email from this retailer explaining how they had gotten carried away and they really meant to give coupons for 50% off of one item only (with exclusions of course). Naturally, I was bummed.

I imagine that there were a lot of people that were really bummed or perhaps even infuriated by this second email. It may be just me, but I think this retailer may have made a tactical error. Of course mistakes happen and maybe this one was just really too big not be corrected. But, what if they had just let their customers take advantage of their error? I really don’t think it would have put them out of business. It might have really paid off for them. The PR alone may have been worth it.

In case you are wondering, I never did pay a visit to that store last week. Again, it may be just me, but I doubt it.

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APRIL 14, 2011

Segmentation – Making a Difference

Segmentation is a simple, yet valuable word in the world of marketing (especially email marketing).

Most of us are familiar with the oft quoted lines from Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken –

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I– I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

This line holds so true when it comes to email marketing. Segmentation is the road less traveled. It is the harder road to take, but yet the one with the most rewards. Yes, it may take some serious thought and work on your part to make sure you are sending the right message to the right person at the right time, but the benefits far outweigh the work.

Just recently, I was reminded of how important segmentation is. This past month I purchased tax software online to help me file my taxes. I have used this company for several years now. Since late last year I have received little notices or offers from them reminding me that it was time to file my taxes. This was all well and good, as I had not yet filed, but, here is where it went bad. I completed and filed my taxes a few weeks ago, but just last week I received a notice that it wasn’t too late to file my taxes and get my biggest refund yet (by the way I’m not getting a refund and this was just rubbing salt in that wound). This is the same company mind you that had already sent me email notices that my returns had been accepted on the state and federal level.

With the type of email software and technology available, it really would not have been that difficult for them to run a list of all those that had already filed their taxes and then exclude that list from their next email campaign, but unfortunately this did not occur. The bigger misfortune is that this happens all too often. This is why recipients get tired and then click the unsubscribe button.

Remember quality is better than quantity, anyone can mass market, but segmentation is the road less traveled and yes, it makes all the difference.

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APRIL 4, 2011

Forgotten Wedges

I was recently reminded of a story told by Samuel T. Whitman. In this account he acquaints us with a story that began when he was just boy.

Once on his family’s homestead there was a saw mill. The saw mill had left the valley in which they resided, but it left behind random pieces of equipment. One day as Samuel was exploring the property he came across a fallers wedge. A faller’s wedge is used to help fell a tree; it is inserted in a cut made by a saw and then struck with a sledge hammer to widen the cut. Samuel happened to be late for dinner, so he leaned the fallers wedge against a young walnut tree. He figured he would take it to the shed after dinner or perhaps the next time he walked by. Unfortunately, this merely became a good intention. The fallers wedge was never moved and eventually it grew into the tree and healed over.

Many years later when Samuel was now the owner of the homestead a fierce winter storm came across this valley. Typically this type of storm would not have hurt the now large walnut tree, but to Samuel’s dismay he went out that night to find that one of the three major limbs had split away from the trunk and had crashed to the ground. This so unbalanced the remainder of the top that it, too, split apart and went down.

The next morning Samuel went out to mourn the loss of his tree. What he found magnified his loss. In the clear morning hours he could now see why he lost the magnificent tree; the forgotten fallers wedge.

The wedge that had grown into the tree had prevented the tree’s fibers from growing together completely, leaving the tree weak and vulnerable.

There are two valuable lessons we can learn from this story. First, what we may put off today can have serious consequences in the future. Secondly, forgotten wedges may seem to heal, but left to fester they can be fatal.

Good intentions we may have include security enhancements, product upgrades, bettering relationships with our clients, the list could go on and on. Putting any of these off can have serious consequences on the success of your business.

What about forgotten wedges? Do you have anything that may be slowly festering? Could it be customer complaints that have gone unresolved or just plain ignored? What about hiring non marketing asset employees? It may be those seemingly innocent white lies that are told to seal a deal. Again, the list could go on and on.

So, before your storm hits, take stock and turn those good intentions into actions and extract any forgotten wedges before it is too late. Or, you may be saying TIMBER to your falling business!

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MARCH 17, 2011

Poor Saint Patrick

I feel sorry for Saint Patrick. Why, you may ask? Because, here is a guy that is remembered and revered, but for accomplishments that aren’t even his own.  First of all, Saint Patrick may be the Patron Saint of Ireland, but he is not Irish, he was actually born in Britain. He also did not drive all the snakes out of Ireland (as Ireland has never had any snakes). And the whole using a 3 leaf clover to teach the trinity is a legend as well. To top it all off, he has never been officially canonized by the Catholic Church.

The really sad part is that he was actually a pretty heroic guy and most of us don’t even know why. When he was 16 he was captured by Irish raiders and taken into captivity and then he escaped after being held for several years. It was later in his life when he returned to Ireland as a priest. According to author Thomas Cahill, Saint Patrick may have been the first person in recorded history to speak out against slavery. (Saint Patrick was born in the 5th century.) So, in actuality the real Saint Patrick rocks more than the fictitious one!

Can this be said about your business? Are you known for all the wrong reasons? Are you letting others tell your story? Now don’t get me wrong, word of mouth can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be deadly to businesses, especially when it is false information. Just ask Toyota or Taco Bell. Of course, Toyota and Taco Bell will survive, but they each took significant losses in the process.

The best advice I can give to you on this Saint Patrick’s Day is to take some time and see what others are saying about your company, inside and out. It may be painful, but better to find out sooner than later. Just like with an illness, treatments given in the first stages are more successful.

And by the way, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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MARCH 14, 2011

Technically Impressed

The past few weeks I have found myself at an Apple Store and using my bank’s ATM machine. These are noteworthy experiences because; these are not usually places I find myself anymore. Of course, many years ago before everybody took debit cards and I actually received paper paychecks, I was a frequent visitor to the ATM and why visit an Apple Store when I can get what I want online?  With all that being said, I was actually really impressed with both places.

So what impressed me? It was their use of technology to make my life a little easier on each of those days. I loved that I didn’t need to wait in a long teller line or even have a deposit slip handy to deposit a paper check that I had received. It was fabulous just to insert my check and have it scanned and deposited automatically to my account. I didn’t even have to punch in the amount and my receipt had a copy of the check on it for my records.

At the Apple Store my husband and I only popped in for a brief moment while we were waiting for a table to open up at one of our favorite restaurants. We didn’t really plan on buying anything, but of course I found a great looking case for my new iPhone (which I had purchased online) that I just had to have. The store was packed and I was worried about waiting in line to purchase this must have case, but almost immediately one the of the store associates appeared with a very cool iPod touch that could scan my credit card and allow me to make my purchase where I stood. (As a side note the store associate noticed how impressed we were and let’s just say, Apple knows how cool they are.) I will say it too, Apple is cool! Not only that, their technology combined with a good staff made me smile and got me to my dinner reservation on time.

So, how are you using technology to help simplify your customer’s lives? It could be something as simple as redesigning your payment/order page to be more user friendly. How about using segmentation when sending out an email campaign? You don’t have to have a huge wow factor to see results in your bottom line and with technology, the possibilities are limitless. Just don’t forget that you can have the latest and greatest technology, but customers still like a human touch and great customer service—and it’s possible to have both!

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MARCH 8, 2011

Springing Forward

The past few mornings I have woken up to the sounds of the birds singing in my trees. I can’t tell you how giddy it makes me to hear the sounds of spring! This past winter was brutal for many of us in the country (even for us southerners) and I’m happy to see it go.

We will also have another rite of spring this weekend as Daylight Savings Time sets in and we spring forward one hour. I know that there are plenty of you out there that have strong opinions about this ritual, but even though I think it is an outdated practice, I must admit I enjoy the extra hour of daylight at the end of the day (especially after a long cold winter). I feel energized and my creative juices begin to flow.

I’m sure many of you can relate to these thoughts and feelings. So, my challenge to you is to use that energy and spring forward in your business or marketing plans. It doesn’t have to be a huge leap, but at least take a step forward. It can be as simple as starting your own blog or signing up for twitter and posting a tweet. Maybe it is just some plain and simple spring cleaning of your office (I tend to work better in clean and organized places). How about sprucing up your opt in list or newsletter?

I have found in life and business that small and simple things can make a huge difference (even to your bottom line). So, don’t focus on the hour of sleep you will be losing Sunday morning, but instead think of that added hour of extra sunlight at the end of your day. I’m smiling already!

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FEBRUARY 17, 2011

May The “Sales Force” Be With You

Are you your own worst enemy when it comes to obtaining new business?

I would like to tell you a rather sad but true story about an Office Manager (that would be me) trying to obtain a new phone line for her office. It goes something like this:

A not so long time ago in a galaxy very nearby (Apparently, I have watched too much Star Wars with my 9 yr old son) an Office Manager of a wonderful up and coming marketing technology company set out to acquire a new phone line for the ever burgeoning office she manages. She did her homework and the math and decided upon a company that the office already had a relationship with. Surely, this company would want her business, because isn’t it true that the more connections you have with a particular customer, the more likely you are to keep them? So, she sent a message to them through their online request form asking for a sales rep to call her. She knew her message had been received (or at least she thought so) because in her email inbox she received notification that they had. But, alas, the days went by and not a word was heard from them.

However, this did not deter the ever faithful Office Manager. She decided that maybe a phone call would be more effective, but unfortunately she was again thwarted in her quest by extremely long wait times. What was she to do? So, she braved another email request. Again, to her dismay no one contacted her. By this time, the normally sweet tempered Office Manager was a little put out. She made one last attempt by placing a phone call. It finally seemed that perhaps she had reached the end of her quest—a real live person answered the phone and actually took her order. She was promised that the new contract would be emailed to her in short order and then the new phone line would finally be installed!

At this point you may be thinking to yourself that, although this sounds much more painful than it should have been, all’s well that ends well, right? I wish I could say that this was the end of the story, to add insult to injury, it was not. Unfortunately, the email with the new contract never came and the Office Manager once again was forced to call. To her utmost dismay there wasn’t even a record of her ordering the new service. How could this possibly be? Did they really not want or need the new business? To make matters worse, the representative that answered the phone either could not or would not help her. The Office Manager at this point could only think- “HOW HARD SHOULD IT BE FOR ME TO GIVE YOU MY BUSINESS?!  I called you! Isn’t this a sales person’s dream?”

I pass along this sad, but true tale in hopes that it will help you think about how easy (or hard) you’re making it for current or potential customers to get your services or products.

As Obi-Wan-Kenobi would say, “Use the Force Luke”. That would be the “Sales force”! And I’m pretty sure he meant, “Use it well”.

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FEBRUARY 14, 2011

What About The Other 364 Days Of The Year?

Call me sentimental, but I just can’t help but write a post about Valentine’s Day. First of all, let me give you a few fun facts about Valentine’s Day:

• 1 Billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year.

• Women purchase 85% of all Valentine’s Day cards.

• 50 Million roses are given every Valentine’s Day.

• 15% of women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day.

• Teachers receive the most Valentine’s Day cards.

• 73% of people who buy flowers on Valentine’s Day are men.

Ok, enough with the fun facts. We can actually learn some good business lessons from Valentine’s Day. As you can see by the fun facts we are little obsessive about the day we honor St. Valentine (who by the way was killed for performing illegal marriages for Roman soldiers). Now don’t get me wrong, I really do like Valentine’s Day, but sometimes I think we get a little crazy about it. Does one day really make or break a relationship? What about the other 364 days of the year? Of course, I don’t expect to be sent flowers and candy everyday of the year, but I do expect my husband and myself to show each other love and respect every day.

How do you treat your customers? Do you only show them the love on special days or occasions? (i.e. when you want them to upgrade or renew, or even better ,you want them to buy your new products.) If this is the case, then I bet you’re not getting what you would like to out of the relationship. Guess what? Neither are they! You need to show the love to your customers everyday! Don’t we all dislike people that only call when they want something?

So, take my advice this Valentine’s Day and contact your customers to see what you can do for them. If not, you may end up singing “Baby Come Back”.

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FEBRUARY 9, 2011

Here’s To You Tamir Goodman

Last week I read a very inspiring story about a man that about a decade ago was dubbed the “Jewish Jordan” (his real name is Tamir Goodman) during his high school basketball career. During his junior year in high school he averaged 38 points a game.

It was during this time that he committed to play for the University of Maryland, which at the time had a fantastic basketball program. But there was a problem, Tamir is a practicing Orthodox Jew and playing for Maryland would mean playing on his Sabbath Day. So, he said goodbye to Maryland and the glory it may have brought him. He ended up playing for Towson, where the head coach was willing to rearrange the team’s schedule to accommodate Tamir’s Sabbath day observance. Unfortunately for Tamir, that arrangement only lasted one season. Towson replaced the head coach with a man that didn’t have the same flexibility as the previous coach. Tamir, at this point, was broken; he was left without a team to play for, or even a desire to keep on playing. Thankfully, his desire was renewed and he ended up playing professionally for Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv. Of course, the story didn’t end there. His time playing professional ball was riddled with injuries and setbacks.

At this point you may be asking yourself why I felt this story was inspiring and why the heck I’m writing about sports when this is a marketing blog. Here is why:

Here we have a guy that has been plagued by numerous setbacks and injuries that have left him permanently weakened. But here is what he has to say about all of it-

“All my injuries were my biggest blessings because the first part of my career, I only knew success. I had tremendous amounts of success… How can you inspire someone if you’ve never felt struggle before, if you’ve never felt adversity before? Society tends to, for basketball players, define success as, ‘Where do you play?’ or, ‘How many points do you score a game?’ For me, I learned that success is what good you can do for someone else through basketball.”

Do not his words ring true? This story has so many great lessons we can incorporate into our professional lives. Here is my list:

1. Never lower your standards!

2. Be creative and flexible- just like the Towson’s head coach (the first one in the story).

3. Don’t give up!

4. Learn from your failures and then move on.

5. Inspire others and give back.

6. Change the way you look at and measure success. Success does not have to be all or nothing.

So, here’s to you Tamir! You have definitely inspired this blogger!

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JANUARY 25, 2011

Snow Shovels Ready?

I’ve been pondering about snow shovels a lot lately. I know this is an odd thing to spend much time thinking about, especially because I live in the south and snow shovels rarely see the light of day (which by the way is a huge perk of living in the south). But, on those rare occasions when they have to be dug out of the back of the garage, I’m really thankful that we have one. And the simple fact that we have a snow shovel suddenly seems really smart on that cold, snowy day—and our neighbors are grateful we’re there to help! Here are a some of the benefits that the snow shovel can bring, when needed:

One, we can take care of our portion of the sidewalks which makes life easier for everyone in the neighborhood. Two, we can help those in the neighborhood who didn’t move from a cold weather climate and have never owned a snow shovel. And third, this can create what might be (and was)one of the most positive bonding experiences we could have with our neighbors.

So, what do snow shovels and my happy neighbors have to do with your business? Everything! Here is my point. I live in a state that rarely sees snow and usually if we get a glimpse of the cold white stuff, it melts almost immediately. That being said, we had a huge snow storm recently that left us with 9 inches on the ground and pretty much crippled our lovely city. Our snow shovel helped us keep our driveway and sidewalks clear, and helped our neighbors do the same. Is your business prepared for the snow storms that may come your way? Yes, they may be rare, but they still happen. In the event they do, is your snow shovel ready? Will your customers and colleagues be grateful or frustrated?

In business there are many things that can go wrong. Most do a great job of handling the things that go wrong on a regular basis—business usually requires that. But most do a lousy job of handling those things that go wrong only rarely. Perhaps it’s a product or resource shortage, a marketing typo or blunder, computer problems, phone problems, or some other issue. No matter which area of a business we work in, there are things that could go wrong, usually don’t, but someday likely will.

If you set aside the “in your face” daily activities that constantly demand your attention and devote some time each week, each month, and each year to thinking about the things that rarely go wrong, but might, and preparing for these events, you’ll likely find that, at some point, you’ll be able to turn a rare difficulty into a positive bonding experience with your co-workers, colleagues, and customers. You may even come out looking like a hero!

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JANUARY 17, 2011

Is Your “Umbrella Policy” Up To Date?

I just read a great little article entitled 7 Little Words That Sum Up the Entire Marketing Machine. It was a great read on a snowy afternoon. One of the little words mentioned was trust. Of course trust may be a little word as far as length is concerned, but don’t let the lack of letters fool you. Trust is an umbrella that covers all aspects of your marketing plan and business performance.

You can think of trust as your umbrella policy. An umbrella insurance policy shields or protects your assets more broadly than your general liability policy. It plugs the holes or gaps in your regular coverage. In other words it is your fail safe. If you have a reputation of trust with your customers and prospects, then those honest mistakes we all make now and then won’t cost you nearly as much as they should. If your customers and prospects trust you, they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and they’ll know they can depend on you.  The bottom line is trust is capable of compensating or making up the difference for our imperfections.

Unfortunately trust is not usually won in just one singular event—although singular events do build (or destroy) trust. Trust is something that’s earned over time. So, how do you build trust? First of all, be who you say you are. If you have a company motto, live it! If you have policies and procedures (and I hope you do), follow them! Secondly, build relationships and reputations. When in contact with your customers and contacts be genuine and responsive. Each individual employee within a company is vital to building relationships and trust. Make sure as managers and employers you are hiring those “marketing asset” employees. Word of mouth is key to any business or marketing plan, so always putting your best foot (or manners) forward is important.

So, before you start this New Year’s marketing plan, take a look at your “Umbrella Policy” first and make sure that you are up to date in paying for that coverage!

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JANUARY 12, 2011

Marketing in the New Decade

Is there a marketer among us who is not thinking of change?  I think not. And if someone is not, my advice to you is: don’t admit it.

The world around us is changing and moving forward at an incredible pace, so how can we remain with the same old, tired marketing strategies and tactics – even if they are tried and true ones?  We can’t.

I’d like to call your attention to this recent post about Marketers’ top issues for 2011.    This will give you an idea of the challenges we face in marketing, not just for 2011 (that’s the tip of the iceberg) but for more than just a few years ahead.  So, in no particular order, I offer my predictions for the new marketing we will see in the decade ahead.

• Using multiple digital channels will become the norm.

• Mobile marketing will emerge as a winning medium – with innovative use of location information.

• Spending on traditional marketing methods will continue to decrease at a fast pace.

• Social media will be used to build relationships with customers and will become a fundamental part of your marketing mix and branding strategies.  This will also be the medium to receive feedback and to make adjustments to your messaging or tactics.

• It will be just as important to listen as it is to talk.

• Marketing will be more than about generating new leads; loyalty programs and targeted cross-selling to existing customers will be a prime way to generate new revenue.

• Marketing professionals will need to become conversant with new technologies, data and databases – this will be a hard requirement, not just a nice-to-have.  The best will combine their skills in creativity and technology to create winning programs.

• Measurement, ROI and accountability will rule.

• Businesses will spend money to show value and draw customers to them (their website, their blog, their brick & mortar store) – this means education, useful information, specially targeted discounts and other benefits to prospects, customers and loyalists.

• Marketing will become used to more two-way communication between you and your target audience then ever before.

There’s really not anything groundbreaking in any of the above points, especially if you have been closely following developments in marketing.   But, taken together, you can see why there is a tangible transformation that is taking place. This is indeed a time of change and an exciting one at that.

A decade is a long time.   But, it has already begun.  So, your time is now.   As you think ahead, not just about your business, but about your personal future in marketing, there’s no time like the present to begin to plan and make changes that will result in your marketing success.

Marketing Musings 2010 (ARCHIVE)

NOVEMBER 24, 2010

How Many Chickens Did You Catch This Year?

Are you chasing chickens (or should I say turkeys in honor of the month)?

When a novice tries to catch a chicken in a yard full of chickens, all of the chickens start running around in mass chaos when a chicken is selected and the first attempt is made. One quickly finds out that chickens are fast and harder to catch than you might think. Invariably, as you are chasing a chicken, though, another chicken runs across your path, closer than the one you’re chasing—seemingly a much more tempting prize than the elusive chicken you’d been trying to catch. But the act of changing direction to chase the new chicken comes with a price and in the end, you’ll just keep changing direction to try and catch the most tempting (seemingly closest at the moment) chicken, but you’ll never catch one. If you stick to your original chicken, though, you will eventually catch it.

Of course, there are times when a much larger prize chicken will come across your path and it is well worth changing direction for it. But, all things being equal, if you continue to constantly change directions you will never catch your chicken or obtain your goals.

As we begin to say goodbye to 2010, take some time and reflect on the goals that you set for your company, yourself, your department, etc… this past year. Did you catch your chicken, or did you keep changing directions and chase chickens all year long? Did you have an opportunity  to change direction and catch a prize chicken?

I would love to hear about your experiences in the coop (so to say) this past year. What were your successes? What did you learn? What do you plan to do better next year?

Above all though, don’t stop running, if you keep at it, you will eventually get that chicken.

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NOVEMBER 18, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving and Hello Black Friday!

For those of you who not are into consumerism and consumption, or don’t know anyone who is…you may not be aware of what Black Friday is.   The term is said to have originated in the mid-1960s and always refers to the Friday after Thanksgiving – this year it falls on November 26, 2010.  It used to be the start of the Christmas shopping season (as you know, this starts much earlier now) and has always been one of the most busy shopping days of the year in the United States. You can be sure that someone you know will be heading to those shops very early – since many stores plan to open at 5 and 6 am!

But, there is another underlying meaning that has since developed for this term – it is the day when retailers would no longer have losses (“be in the red”) and would begin to turn profits (“the black”).  

I thought I would use this opportunity to discuss the power of e-marketing to create your own Black Friday – for your venture or business or product.

• First, let’s start with the premise that Marketing has changed (“evolved” is too mild a word!).

• The other premise (cliched though it may be) is that the internet has changed everything.

• Given these two premises, it is fair to say that we have new, transformative ways of reaching prospects and customers.

• The cost of marketing and advertising was all about “green”.  If you think of the traditional way of advertising, all of their costs were from fairly-to-very heavy.

• The new cost of marketing has more to do with data than with cash.   Because we have these new ways of reaching our market, it is important that we do this in a way that is different from mass messaging.   It is also less about immediacy and more about the long-term relationship you have with your “market”.

• This means knowing and learning about the individuals that you are speaking with, and actually creating a relationship.  Out of this, will be crafted the messages that will go to them.

• Does this sound like a lot of work?   Well, it is, if you were to do all of this manually.  But, isn’t technology wonderful?  Sometimes?  

• The good news is that today you have marketing platforms and media that can help you with all of this –

• Collecting and mining the data about your prospects

• Sifting through the differences and generating different offers for different behaviors – making sure you are relevant to them

• A number of e-marketing platforms – email, online, mobile and social media that you can use to convey your message

• The ability to market using multiple channels so that you can be sure that your messages are indeed delivered and read

• The ability to offer two-way communication…i.e. that you also spend time listening to the “market”, and being responsive and receptive to the messages that you receive.

• Plus, best of all, there are a vast number of resources available to you, for free, from marketing experts, gurus and practitioners.  They are in the form of newsletters, blogs, ebooks, videos, podcasts and more. What you need then is the motivation and time to absorb these (selected) wonderful resources to become a contemporary marketer.

So, what are you waiting for?    Get unstuck from the old ways and board the bus.  It’s moving fast.  And it’s heading towards “black”.

P.S. Interestingly, with that cliche again, the internet changed everything, a new phenomenon that has appeared following Black Friday is Cyber Monday.   Guess what that is?

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NOVEMBER 12, 2010

The Parent of All Virtues

The Roman Philosopher Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others”. While we speak often of having an attitude of gratitude in our personal lives, it should also be something we seek to obtain in our professional lives as well. Here’s why-

Gratitude is all about appreciation and thankfulness. It is being able to recognize that you have been the recipient of some benefit. In business you have many types of relationships from partners to customers. Have you ever stopped to think about the benefit that is derived from each of those relationships?  If you haven’t in awhile or ever, I challenge you to do this. I guarantee you will begin to look at these relationships in a much more grateful way.

The next step is to then act on those feelings. Great relationships are not 50-50 they are 100-100. If you are giving your all to your customers and partners, most will reciprocate. Can you imagine how your bottom line would swell if your customers were giving you all of the business they could, or if your partners began focusing more time and effort selling your products? Then think how grateful you would truly be!

I believe the following quote sums it all up:

“Reflect Each Day On All You Have To Be Grateful For And You Will Receive More To Be Grateful For.” -Chuck Danes

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OCTOBER 25, 2010

Blah words to define something so important!

The blah words in question are “Market Segmentation”.  The definition of market segmentation that you can find on wikipedia is informative and worth a quick look or two.  Obviously, there are reams of information sources to define this for you, but right now, a quick refresher is all you may need.

Why write about something that has been around since…well, marketing?  Today, the difference is the availability of so many new forms of electronic communication, connection and performance monitoring.  Therefore,  as a marketer, one should be taking advantage of deep and deeper market segmentation in every campaign that is executed (I’m assuming here that most of your campaigns are e-campaigns, even though I realize that reality differs from my wish).

Not that there was much of an excuse before either.  But, now?  If you want to communicate or connect with your prospect, customer, reader, user, or fan realize that they are not all made equal nor do they think alike.  This base and audience is made up of a number of individuals who are quite diverse.  

On the one hand, they are not one mass.  On the other hand, they are diverse individuals that can number in the 100s or 1000s or 10,000s or more.   Somewhere between mass and individual is a logical step.

This is where market segmentation comes in.   It is the ability to group individuals into logical subsets based on their demographics (age, marital status, household income, location), product likes or dislikes, past purchases, derived needs, feedback history and so on.  Or some combination of these.  When you have thus homogenized the mass into logical groups, you are able to apply more relevance to any communication.  With more relevance, it follows that you get better results – whatever way you define “better”.

A fundamental tenet then of market segmentation is to know something about individuals.  Something other than their name and contact information.  This is the foundation of market segmentation.   It is amazing how many businesses – of various sizes: small, medium and large – have still not arrived at this conclusion or started doing something about it.   Those who are contemporary marketers and modern market practitioners may not choose to believe this, but for some of us who are on the ground dealing with people and businesses every day, let me tell you, there are many out there who are still at ground zero with respect to e-marketing.

However, it is also great to see how many businesses are truly making strides in this area by making the right technology investments – in CRM, marketing automation systems, various e-marketing initiatives such as email and online marketing.  They are guaranteeing the increased success of their marketing and impacting the future of their business.  

Are you one of them?    Yes?  My hearty congratulations to you and your business!

P.S.  While market segmentation is a key factor that should be driving e-marketing, it is also true that segmentation – at least in my opinion – should follow only after you have built “permission” from those you are connecting with.  It means that your audience has giving you permission to be reached.  More about this in another blog posting at another time.  The best source of information on this topic though is Seth Godin.  While your at it, why don’t you read what he says about permission marketing?

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OCTOBER 27, 2010

Talking Email with Damson Automotive

Alabama auto giant gives its take on the benefits of email marketing and DeepTarget Email

Huntsville, AL, October 25, 2010– We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Ben Boles and Mirandy Hughes of Damson Automotive Group here in North Alabama. Ben and Mirandy oversee and create Damson’s digital media needs, so our conversation focused on email marketing. Damson Automotive Group purchased DeepTarget Email in April of this year to handle all of their email marketing initiatives.

Here is what they had to say:

Q: Why did Damson Automotive Group choose email marketing in its marketing mix? And, what do you see as the primary benefits and your vision for its use in the future?

A: Email marketing is an obvious choice. It is where you get the most bang for your buck. It is measurable and the results are doubly verifiable and they have less than a 1% error rate. In the future we plan to use more analytics and information in email marketing to contact our customers more effectively and making sure the information we have about our customers is accurate.

Q: In your experience so far, what kind of email campaigns have been most effective?

A: Our most successful campaigns are the ones that have been carefully thought out and have a purpose from a store perspective and give a specific call to action. One specific campaign that did extremely well was our “Direct to the Public” campaign. This campaign allowed buyers to eliminate the middle man and gave them once-a-year type pricing.

Q: Have you found email campaigns that target certain age groups or other demographics to be more successful than others?

A: At this point in time we are not using email campaigns specifically to target certain demographics.

Q; With respect to DeepTarget Email, can you identify the key features that appealed to you?

A: DeepTarget Email’s reports and analytics were the biggest selling point. Their level of sophistication was key. The accuracy of reporting in DeepTarget Email gives our managers and owners confidence in using email marketing. DeepTarget email is deadly accurate when compared to Google Analytics. Also the sophistication of the product in being able to link specific sections of our emails was key, as well as the filters DeepTarget Email provides. Because of all these things we are confident with DeepTarget Email that we are successfully reaching our recipients.

Q: Please comment on DeepTarget Email’s usability, results, cost-effectiveness, as well as the level of service that DeepTarget has provided to Damson.

A: DeepTarget Email is simple to use and is definitely cost effective. Our return on investment is excellent. It costs us more to send one direct mail campaign for one our smaller stores than we pay all year for DeepTarget Email. We are very appreciative of DeepTarget’s support and customer service. We consider them on a short list of exceptional vendors. On a scale from one to ten we rate DeepTarget’s service a ten.

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OCTOBER 19, 2010

Turning Frowns Upside Down

There are few things scarier in business than unhappy or dissatisfied customers. No company, no matter how good they are, is immune to this problem. Of course there are many preventative or proactive measures companies can take to reduce the number of unhappy customers, but nothing is fool proof. So, the question is what do you do when you encounter unhappy customers?  Is it possible to turn unhappy customers into happy customers? The answer is, of course! To illustrate this, I would like to share a personal example.

My morning routine includes me checking my email to see what I may have missed overnight. To my surprise this morning I had received several emails from one of my banks telling me that my statement delivery options had been changed from online to paper. This was very disconcerting to me because I had not made this change. So, I quickly tried to log on to my account and found that out that I couldn’t. By this point I was very frustrated and a little worried, so I hastily called my bank to give them a piece of my mind and find out what the heck was going on.

First, I have to say that this was around 6:00 in the morning and I’m grateful that someone was available at my bank to speak to me. This is pointer one – availability to solve problems lessens frustration for your customer. Secondly, the gentleman that answered my call was very professional and courteous. Pointer two- you catch more flies with honey. Third, he paid attention and then quickly acted. Enough said. Fourth, he solved my problem and acknowledged an error in their system. Now, I know that there are some problems that can’t be solved, but doing all you can goes a long way and yes admitting that you were wrong or that a mistake was made can sometimes work wonders too.

But, wait there is more. After he solved my problem he noticed that I qualified for their premier account which not only saves me money in fees but,  it also includes a lot of perks that I wasn’t getting before. So, not only did he turn an unhappy customer into a happy customer, he increased my loyalty to the bank.

This bank employee is what I would call a marketing asset. If you have employees like this, then you have nothing to fear. If the opposite is true, be afraid, be very afraid.

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OCTOBER 11, 2010

Who’s Afraid of Gen Y?

For some reason, the term Gen Y seems to be a little scary to some. Sure, they seem to be everywhere (they make up an estimated 25% of the US population) and it may also appear that they were born hard wired for texting, surfing (the online kind) and being connected 24-7 to some type of media. But, as a marketer, the term Gen Y should not scare you. For you, Gen Y should spell huge opportunity.  The fact that there are so many of them and they are hard wired for things like social media and texting is a huge advantage to marketers smart enough to market to them on their terms.

Gen Y actually spends more time texting, emailing and on logged in to social media sites than they do watching television. We all know by now how much cheaper it is to advertise online than it is to advertise on television. We also know that digital is cheaper than print. FYI- Gen Y’ers don’t get their news delivered by print. THEY GET IT ONLINE! They also are more likely to have things like bank and credit card statements to be delivered greenly, aka online.  Digital online marketing is cheaper, quicker and more effective. Di d you know that, given the choice, Gen Y would rather live without social media and television for a week than go without texting and email.

So, now that you know what they want, give it to them! If you haven’t already started planning to use email campaigns and same site advertising like personalized banners, there is no time like the present. Get your CRM’s in gear and start using the information you already have to your advantage. Gen Y has huge buying power now and it will only increase in the future.

Get them to be loyal customers now by advertising to them in their own language and you will see benefits now and in the future.

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2010

It’s All About Analytics

They say ignorance is bliss, but information, most of the time, proves to be a game changer and a revenue maker.

Insight can help you take advantage of a great opportunity or warn you to stay away from a huge mistake. But how much effort do we put into our understanding?

Do you know which products sell well? Probably, because this information is fairly standard and easy to get. You know what’s selling well and what isn’t. But do you know what is selling well to whom? And do you know why?

Analytics can tell us so much more than what is selling well and what isn’t. Who is buying the things that are selling well? Do your products generally appeal to individuals of a certain age, income level, geographic location, behavior disposition? Which products sell well to your 18 to 25 age group? Which sell well to your 65 + crowd?

There are many tools available to help you learn more about your members or customers. CRM, MCIF and other marketing database tools consolidate and aggregate your data, so you can more easily analyze it. They often also come with pre-built segmentations that can provide additional value. For the truly adventurous, there are tools like SPSS, SAS, and SQL Server Analysis Services that provide the ability to dig deeper—and sometimes even to analyze blindly in order to find patterns that you might not even suspect are there.

But when you’ve done all of this analysis, which takes much more time and effort than any of us want to, we aren’t done yet. We now know what sells well to whom, and which attributes might be good predictors of future purchasing decisions, but we still don’t always know why. Sure, we will invariably form theories, but we’re missing an opportunity if we don’t put those theories to the test.

Two additional tools in the arsenal of the information and insight driven marketer are marketing and sales tests, where you formulate hypothesis, create a marketing plan around that, and then see if the results validate the hypothesis (I know, it sounds so scientific, but it can actually be fun!). Also, surveys can be used to seek validation on key assumptions—though you must keep in mind that some questions will fail to yield good results, because people aren’t always consciously aware of their patterns of behavior and their motivations. But a good marketer can play detective (again, here is more fun to be had).

Doing these things will set you apart from the pack, precisely because they require time, effort, and money. But the marketer that is willing to invest in these steps will find that the rewards for their company (and their career) are well worth it!

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SEPTEMBER 15, 2010

Trust = Higher ROI

This month’s focus is all about Rocking your ROI! Let’s begin with a simple equation:

TRUST = Higher ROI

Let’s break down this equation. What is Trust?

• It is the dependability of your company’s integrity and its abilities – This doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect or error free. This means that even when an error is made your customers know you will do all you can to correct it. When you have this kind of trust, you keep your customers and in turn your profits.  They also come to you for a solution when a new challenge for them arises. Can you say up sell?

• It is being able to rely on or to have confidence in your company and your products, not only now, but in the future – It is so important that your customers see that you care about your own products and that you are committed to making them better and better as time goes on. Not only will this keep them loyal, but they will feel confident in referring you to their associates and friends.

• It is boosting your customer’s confidence that their dependence on you is well placed – If you have confident customers then you have happy customers and happy customers are loyal customers and your best champions!

How do you know if your customers trust you? It is easy. Do you have the three R’s – Retention, Repeat Business and Referrals? If the answer is yes, great job! You are already an ROI Rock Star! If the answer is no, time is of the essence. Take the steps now to earn back your customer’s trust. First make good on any promises that haven’t been kept, then add simple steps like keeping your customers updated and informed of new enhancements or products. Most importantly make sure they are receiving exceptional customer service. It is also helpful to ask their opinion. What would they like to see? Ask them how you can improve.

Now go Rock Out!

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SEPTEMBER 2, 2010

Getting It Right

More and more, marketing is about sending the right message to the right person at the right time.  We are in a world inundated by information and interruptions, so more often than not, we are forced to ignore everything that does not matter or resonate.  There is a good reason, therefore, why “relevance” has become a new buzzword in marketing.

So, as marketers, how do we get it right?

• Always start with the objective – your business, personal, professional or marketing objective.  What is it you wish to communicate?  What action do you wish your message recipient to take?  Once you get this right (and refined), you can move on to the “How”.

• Based on a good understanding of your objective, you can now move to understand the audience.  You need to determine carefully what the characteristics are of the person(s) that would or should be interested in your message (and objective – i.e. product, service or other resource).

• Once you know the characteristics, determine whether you have the right tools to segment your entire contact database to identify these specific individuals in order to create your target list or pool.

• Now that you have clearly determined your objectives and the person(s) that you will be communicating to, it’s time to focus on the message and medium/media of choice for your communication.

• Here’s the key to the message getting read or received – it needs to resonate.  How do you make it resonate?   First, consciously, put yourself in the shoes of one or more recipients.  Clear your mind of you!  You don’t matter.  Only the individual who is about to receive your message.  Now, write down some key points that will matter to the recipient.   What are “your” pain points?  What will motivate or provide incentives to “you” to act?  Make a list of 5 to 7 points.

• Now, you have the meat – the primary content of the message.   Prioritize those points from most to least significant.   Try to use the most important point as your subject line, headline or title to get the attention of the recipient.  You have the raw material to begin crafting your message.   Based on the medium of communication [hint: the more ways you communicate the message (provided you are not overdoing it!), the more likely your message will receive the attention you think it deserves], your entire message may be a couple of lines (e.g. on a targeted display banner ad) or a couple of paragraphs (e.g. a targeted email message).

• A few hints about your message – brevity wins over length, bullets work well to make a point, a couple of graphics or pictures catch attention and the headline/title/subject line merits time and effort.

• If you can, create your own small focus group – colleagues, employees, friends, family, loyal customers and test out the messages.   You are testing for two key aspects – relevance and resonance.   Did they work?

• By now, you should have the message(s), the targeted list(s) or recipients and the media.  The last thing you need to determine is when and how often you want to communicate the message(s) through one medium or many.  This too needs to be a deliberate decision by you.  Put yourself in their shoes once again.  Timing wise, what seems optimimum, how many messages would irritate you, how many would be too few to take action.  Did that help?  Now, you are ready to go!

Some of you may be thinking – boy, that’s a lot of work to create a message.   But, think of the end objective.   What do you want to accomplish?  Who do you want to reach?   What do you want them to do once they receive your message?  The only way to success in this new world of over-abundance of everything, especially information, is to take the time to do it right upfront, so you spend less time wondering why nothing happened later.

Good e-marketing to you and hope you “get it right” always!

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AUGUST 16, 2010

Beware of The Wizard of Oz

We are making our way steadily through the month and my list of “all things August”. It would almost be a crime if I didn’t write about the beloved classic the The Wizard of Oz. Unbelievably this classic was released 71 years ago on August 25th. Before I begin, here are a few fun facts about the 1939 classic:

• The movie was an adaption of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

• The original Tin Man (Buddy Ebsen aka Jed Clampett) had to quit filming as he was allergic to the aluminum make-up.

• The movie was nominated for 6 Academy Awards (too bad it was up against Gone With the Wind that year).

• The 1939 version was not the first time the book had been made into a film.

There are several good life and business lessons that we can learn from The Wizard of Oz, but one I found extremely important is to beware of the “Wizard of Oz”. You know who I’m talking about, the person or company that promises the world if only you give them what they want first (in other words, a lot of money). Just like the wizard they hide behind a curtain of deception.  They promise top Google placement, higher SEO, more fans, more followers, more customers and of course out of the world profits, but in reality they can’t deliver.

The good news is that you don’t have to be fooled. The better news is that just like Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Lion you have it in you already to make your business a success; in essence you don’t need the “man behind the curtain”. If you have a worthy goal like Dorothy, the courage of the Lion, a heart like the Tin Man, a Brain (or even half of one) like Scarecrow and of course worthy and helpful friends or partners along for the journey, there is no telling how truly successful you will be.

So, don’t be fooled by the yellow brick road. There is no easy path to success in business or life. You will make mistakes and trip and fall along the way, but therein lies great learning and growth.

So before you go looking on the other side of the rainbow, you may want to take a closer look at where you are, who you are and who you have around you, and you may find that you already had it in you all along.

P.S. Stay away from Lions, Tigers and Bears. Oh my!

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AUGUST 9, 2010

Friendship Day Everyday

Next on my list of “all things August” is Friendship Day.  Did you know that there was a day to celebrate Friendship? And what the heck does friendship have to do with business? Aren’t we just supposed to be associates? I would like to think not. Friendship is way more valuable than association. Who of us can honestly say we’d like to limit the value we provide to or receive from our customers and colleagues?

Here are some qualities that I believe reflect friendship.  I believe that these very same traits should be incorporated into our business relationships for the purpose of benefiting your business:

• You want what’s best for the other person- When selling or supporting  your customers this should always be your top priority. If your customer believes that you really want the best for them, and if you demonstrate this through your words and actions, then you begin building  trust and a trusted relationship. To say that trust (in any relationship) is valuable is such an understatement! If your customers really trust you, then they will also trust you with their other friends who could turn into valuable business referrals. This ultimately means  more business success for you.

• Honesty and Integrity –This quality again leads to trust. Even if the truth hurts, it is always less painful than trying to cover your tracks or mistakes.

• Understanding – Do you truly understand your customer’s needs and wants?  Have you spent the time to discuss their pain points and developed an appreciation for their challenges?

• Respect – It is important that you respect your customer’s time, perspective and opinions. This means listening and genuinely having a high regard for them.

The great author C.S. Lewis once said: “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival. ”

So, by declaring every day as “Friendship Day” with respect to your prospects and customers, you are placing a very high value on your company’s survival and future success.  Because in the end, friendship is always more worthy and significant than mere association.

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AUGUST 2, 2010

I Want My MTV

This month, I have chosen to blog about events or anniversaries that we recognize in the month of August and how they relate to marketing. First up on my list is the launch of MTV.

Believe it or not MTV will celebrate its 29th anniversary on August 1st. Whether you believe MTV to be worthwhile or not, you can’t deny the powerful influence that it had in the 80’s and 90’s – marketing is all about influence.

MTV from its start had almost an immediate influence on what was selling in the record stores (do they still have those?). Record stores where MTV was available found that even if the band was not receiving airtime on the local radio station, if it was playing on MTV, it was selling. That is influence!

MTV not only influenced record sales but they were making or breaking careers. Once popular contemporary artists like Christopher Cross began to see their careers dry up because they did not fit the MTV core audience. On the other hand, artists like Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul, Tears for Fears and such had great success due to MTV. Thriller was obviously a great album in its own right, but it’s out of control success is owed to MTV’s huge influence.

So why did MTV have such influence and power? I believe it is because they truly knew their audience (generally 14-24 year olds). While they catered to them, they also created trends that were followed. They were not only influencing the music they were listening to, but what they were wearing and saying. Remember “I want my MTV”, “Rock the Vote” or “Too much is never enough”.

Do you know your audience? Are you having an influence?

It doesn’t take catchy slogans or even Madonna to influence your audience. How about having the right product for the right audience at the right price? How about having excellent customer service? How about talking to your audience and asking them about their needs now and in the future. If you can engage your audience then you can influence them.

Now I must end with just one more MTV slogan:

“Think”.

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JULY 19, 2010

When Email Marketing Won’t Work

Email marketing is a wonderful communication and marketing tool.  Email marketing can also be abused and overused.  Make sure that you focus on your email marketing being the former rather than the latter.  There are numerous resources available that you can tap on how to become a successful email marketer.  Search online.  Pick a random set of 5 or 10.  You will get more than a few great tips on how to do the right thing.

For a change, I thought I would cover the things that don’t and won’t work with email marketing.  Keep these in mind to as you discover and optimize this powerful communication medium.  Or count on it to go from being powerful to powerless –

1. Don’t send email to mass lists (typically purchased)

2. Careful not to use mis-used/abused words and symbols in the subject line so you don’t get marked as spam – e.g. FREE (especially in all caps) or !!!!

3. Never send an email that does not include an Unsubscribe link

4. Does your content really matter?  Is it interesting?  Don’t send email without first putting yourself in the place of the recipient and assessing its impact.  Do not send irrelevant, mass e-blasts!

5. Don’t send email too often (use your judgement on what this may be – again, put yourself on the receiving end!).

6. Never send email without some tests to ensure that links are working and that images look as they should – at least in the most popular email clients.  Here are some of the top ones – Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo!Mail, Gmail, Apple Mail and now a slew of Smartphones as well.

7. Finally, perhaps most important but often overlooked, don’t forget this – have a CLEAR OBJECTIVE for your email.  This will help you determine the recipient list (this may be a subset of all your contacts), the content, the subject line and a clear call to action.

More power to you!

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JULY 13, 2010

Marketing Fireworks

This month we celebrated Independence Day on the 4th of July. And what would a July 4th celebration be without fireworks?

Fireworks and the 4th of July have a long history – they were actually used to celebrate the 4th of July in 1776 (all though the date they celebrated this grand occasion was actually July 8th that year). Of course fireworks are much older than our relatively young country. Fireworks have been used for centuries by ancient Indian and Chinese cultures for many celebratory occasions. King Henry VIII (1491-1547) even had a Fireworks Master.

Now that you have a few fun facts about fireworks, let’s talk about their relevance to marketing and business. –

• Fireworks like marketing/business plans can be dangerous. You can get burned! So, pay attention. Pay attention to trends and new technology. Pay attention to the shifts in your industry. Pay attention to your customer’s wants and needs. Most importantly pay attention to your competition!

• If no one is enjoying or seeing the fireworks or your latest campaign, you are literally burning money. In this economy especially, no one can afford to burn money, so make the right decisions when it comes to advertising and marketing your business or products or capabilities. May I suggest moving as much as you can from print to digital? Digital is much more cost effective and reaches a wider audience. Also digital methods of advertising are so measurable you can continually tweak and improve their performance.  Also, take a serious look at what you can do with inbound marketing.  Read more in this great post from Hubspot.

• Fireworks displays are generally short lived. They may be beautiful and get lots of oohs and aahs, but they really don’t last long. Some campaigns and plans may have shorter lives due to their nature and that’s okay, but every organization that wants to succeed needs a long term strategy and plan as well. So, have a long term strategy that includes short term plans if needed, but make sure you do make the plan.  Remember, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail”.

Having celebrated Independence Day once again this year, take some time out for your own brand of marketing fireworks!

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JULY 8, 2010

The Wonderful World of Bees

My last post talked about Perception “Be’s”, which got me thinking about actual bees. Bees may seem way off topic for a marketing blog, but we can actually learn a lot from those little creatures.

Here are my top five lessons we can learn from bees:

1. Bees have been around for over 30 million years. They have some serious staying power. Does your marketing/business plan have staying power and the ability to adapt to a changing environment? As we know the world is ever changing, just like in the wild, and those that can adapt will survive.

2. Bees (in particular honey bees) can and do plan ahead. They produce winter bees to sustain the hive and protect the queen bee during the long cold winter months. Are you planning ahead? Are you keeping an eye on emerging trends and technology?

3. Bees are unique. They are the only insect producing food that is eaten by humans. Unique doesn’t necessarily mean that your product has to literally and absolutely be “one of a kind”. Unique can mean remarkable or without equal.  So have a goal to make your products and services remarkable!

4. The way bees work together is phenomenal.  They each have their roles, but one goal. That goal is to sustain the hive. Take a look at your organization and do you see happy and productive people working towards a common goal? Do you have a TEAM in the true sense of the word?  If not, what can you do to change that? For some ideas to make that a reality, please see an earlier post of mine:  Are your Employees a Marketing Asset?

5. Honey bees communicate with each other by dancing. Here in our office we have dance breaks too.  Now, not all of us are getting up and busting a move, but when we have great news to share or a big win, someone will yell “dance break” and we have a mini (or maxi!) celebration. We are truly a team, in every sense of the word.  Are you a team? Are you dancing together and often? If not, try it, you may find that dancing does wonders for your organization.

Here’s to you being the best that you can be!

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JULY 8, 2010

Facebook to take over the world

In spite of complaints about it’s speed, searchability, and other features, Facebook is doing something right.  Whither thou goest MySpace?  And now Orkut may be facing the same challenges in India and Brazil.

So, Facebook is almost up to 500 million active users and expects to be at 1 billion users shortly.   500 million is equal to 22% of all internet users. Globally.   That’s beyond amazing.

Not just individuals, but businesses should be using Facebook fan pages to connect and communicate with their customers and prospects.

To give you an idea of what else is going on in the e-world, here are some awesome statistics compiled by Hubspot:

• There are 1.67+ billion internet users worldwide

• 90 trillion emails were sent on the internet in 2009

• There are 126 million blogs today

• 10+ billion tweets sent since 2006

• 2 billion videos are streamed on YouTube EVERY DAY!

So, there you go.  Any doubts that you should be spending more energy, focus, resources on e-Marketing….where your customers and prospects are?

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JUNE 17, 2010

Latest Trends: Online Ad Spending

Again, according to eMarketer’s most recent data, online ad spending will reach a whopping $25.1 billion this year, a healthy year over year increase of 10.8%.  Inspite of continuing economic woes, this is a health gain and one senior analyst attributes this to more careful and prudent ad spending – a focus on what is measureable rather than using the traditional advertising channels.  There is no question that at least some of this gain is at the expense of traditional media spending.

The numbers suggest that online ad spending will add another $11 billion over the next four years and climb to 20% of total ad spending by 2014.  The 2010 spending is 15% of the total spent in advertising.  So, the percentage and actual gains are impressive.

These projections are supported by the following:

1. Strong Search Spending

2. Fast Growing Online Video Advertising

3. Steady Spending on Banners

Be sure to check this write-up from eMarketer for more information.

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JUNE 17, 2010

A Powerful Word: Efficiency

Our friends at CUTS Performance Marketing  called our attention to a recent study commissioned by CUNA focused on efficiency of community credit unions.   The study is available for anyone to access and review, and it’s worth doing, even if one is not affiliated to a community credit union.  The reason is this: the recommendations provided to improve efficiency of such credit unions do not necessarily have to be limited to them.  Any financial institution can take advantage of them.   For after all, is there really something that can be classified as too efficient?  Here are some very interesting statements from this study:

• The Web provides a powerful vehicle to improve the efficiency of marketing and cross selling. Compare this “free” internet channel to expensive radio and print advertisements.

• Most credit unions have barely tapped into this web channel to engage their members

To better leverage the Internet as a marketing vehicle, credit unions must:

• Improve matrix marketing at the point of log-in by presenting targeted messages based on individual account holder’s profile and usage of products and services.

• Develop engaging content linked to product solutions – moving past brochure-ware.  This means educational and informational content that helps individuals manage their finances.

• Personalize their web experience

I encourage you, whether you are a community credit union or not, whether you are a credit union or not, to review this study and get some useful pieces of insight and advice that you can put to work in your financial institution.  The entire study can be accessed here.

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JUNE 16, 2010

World Cup Fever

Even if you have no interest in soccer, you have to be hiding in a cave not to have heard all the hoopla about the World Cup Soccer event that is currently taking place in South Africa.  I thought it would be interesting to see what new marketing strategies are being used by different organizations to capitalize on this exciting global event.

So, here goes an eclectic collection of marketing strategies that use the World Cup event as their platform:

Soccer e-game to debut at World Cup.  Student-designed for soccer minded boys 8-15 around the world.  Interesting fact: It is heavily promoted by the United Nations for its persuasive subtext: preventing violence against women.

Hyundai Ties Passion of Soccer Fans to Owner Loyalty in FIFA Advertising Blitz.  Interesting fact: This year, Hyundai became number one in customer loyalty. The blitz  ties in to the FIFA World Cup with its great height of fan passion and loyalty on a global scale.

Marketers in Warm-Up for World Cup. See the lengthy list of blue-chip sponsors who are capitalizing on the excitement and frenzy of the World Cup.

World Cup Battle: Nike versus Adidas.  Two major shoe companies have much at stake as World Cup soccer play begins. Nike, which made deals with Brazilian stars, is trying to put a dent in Adidas’ long-standing dominance of the soccer market.

World Cup Sponsor Sony Ericsson Shuns Traditional Marketing for Social Media/Twitter. Believes interaction through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are the best and most intimate ways of reaching out to the fan.

Visa launches YouTube Channel to host FIFA World Cup. the exclusive card of the 2010 FIFA World Cup(TM), has created a Go Fans YouTube channel enabling soccer fans to express their true colors in support of their national teams by viewing, uploading and sharing videos capturing creative, entertaining, passionate or humorous goal calls.

So, as a marketer, when you look at this diversity and innovation and creativity, I hope you are thinking – there’s no better time to be a marketer!  I know I am.

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JUNE 16, 2010

Do you KNOW who is receiving your email?

I have found eMarketer to be a great source of insight and information to marketers who are getting out of the traditional “doing it the same old way” mode and into new and innovative digital media.  Being from a company that is passionate about relevance in marketing, I tend to pay special attention to mentions and opinions on this topic.  I would like to share with you a recent article from eMarketer on the subject of knowing your email recipients.  What does this mean?

Getting to know your recipient far exceeds knowing and using their first name in communication, whether you use it as part of your email subject line or content.  Here are some of the items that you should get to know….this means capturing this information, storing it, maintaining it, updating it and using it –

1. They types of products and services they like (Amazon does a great job of this)

2. The types of offers they would like (corollary to the above)

3. Whether they are a new or returning customer

4. How they would like to communicate with you

5. Their name

6. Their shopping preferences

7. Whether they have visited your website

and many more that you can read in this insightful, rich article.

More importantly, if you do know your email recipients and use this information wisely, what will the result be?  More opened emails, more connection, more interest…that’s what you are seeking with email marketing, aren’t you?

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JUNE 15, 2010

Common Sense

I saw a sad sight this morning; my local Hollywood Video is forever closing its doors. I’m not sad because I frequented the store( I mean really, who wants to pay $4.99 for one movie when I can sign up for Netflix for $9 a month and get unlimited movies and I don’t even have to leave my home!) , but it feels like the end of an era for me. Renting movies (and yes even VCR’s) was a huge part of growing up in the 1980’s. Sadly companies like Hollywood Video and Blockbuster didn’t change lanes and they didn’t become more convenient.

If only they had read my blogs on Changing Lanes and Convenience!  

Now I’m not saying I’m some kind of genius (oh how I wish!), but I would like to think that I have some good common sense. I have enough sense to know that in a digital age where convenience and frugality are prized, that charging my customers an arm and a leg to rent one measly movie might not be a great marketing plan (at least not a sustainable one). It’s not that people have quit renting or watching movies, it’s that they have found a cheaper, more convenient way to do so. The consumer has changed lanes. Unfortunately these companies did not.

Take a look at your marketing plan.

Does it make sense in the here and now?

Does it look ahead for future changes in technology, behavior and trends?

Most importantly, does it meet your customer’s needs and wants?

If you answered yes to these questions, great!  If you answered no to any of the above questions, I would strongly advise that you take some time to get to know your customers better.  Based on that, re-work your marketing plan. Don’t get left behind.  I would hate to have to use one of our readers as an example in my “what not to do” category.

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MAY 13, 2010

Changing Lanes

Tell me if this has ever happened to you: You’re driving home from work on the highway and you find yourself behind someone who is driving considerably under the speed limit. Unfortunately, you realize, many of those behind you have noticed this before you and are now quickly changing lanes, which prevents you from doing so safely. To make matters more complicated you realize that once you can change lanes safely and get in front of the slow driver, you may risk missing your exit. So, do you deal with the annoyance of driving well below the speed limit until you get to your exit or do you take the risk and try to pass the driver?

You may wonder what this has to do with marketing. We’re faced with this sort of dilemma all the time. Sometimes we aren’t paying attention and opportunities pass us by or our competition has gotten there first and then we are trying to play catch up. Sometimes we are afraid to move over because we are comfortable and the unknown can be scary. Or maybe we’re afraid that we just don’t have what it takes under the hood right now to change lanes (and maybe we’re right). Finally, how do we know that this thing everyone is chasing isn’t just some fad that will only waste our time?

Here’s some advice for approaching this particular dilemma in today’s ever changing marketing environment:

1. Pay attention! We live in the age of information. You have no excuse not to be keeping tabs on emerging marketing trends and technology.  Take some time everyday to read a marketing blog or two. (May I suggest Seth Godin to start with?)Download a whitepaper or two every week.

2. Making changes can be scary, but what is even scarier is losing marketing opportunities and hence revenue. Maybe your marketing strategy worked at the beginning of the century (that was only nine years ago!), but we have entered into a new decade. Try to incorporate some new strategies like using social media. Let me say one word GEN Y (ok…that may be two), this generation is hard wired for social media and guess what they are entering the workforce and are becoming the decision makers.

3. Maybe you think you don’t have the resources (people/money) to make any changes right now. I strongly recommend that you take another look. There are many resources available that you may not be aware of. Did you know that companies like Microsoft offer free software and help for companies that meet specific criteria? Join Facebook, Twitter and start a blog—they don’t cost a penny! Look to your staff. You may have a blogger among you just waiting to get out. In this day and age everyone in your company should be a marketer.  

4. Be careful to avoid the temptation to jump on every new fad that comes along—keeping up to date will help you know the difference between a passing fad and an opportunity.

5. Sometimes, the best strategy is the one you’re already executing.  

My last bits of advice: Enjoy the ride! Your passion for what you do will take your marketing plan farther than any other strategy.

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MAY 27, 2010

Employers Are Marketing Assets Too

In my last blog I asked, “Are your employees a marketing asset”? I would like to turn the tables around this time and ask the employers, “What are you doing to either make your marketing assets (aka-employees) more valuable or less valuable”?

One of the definitions of asset is- a valuable or desirable thing to have.  Having employees that are marketing assets, obviously is very desirable, and should be sought after. The question is how do you acquire this type of employee; and once you have her working for you, how do you increase her value?

May I suggest that it starts with you, the employer?  You, more than anyone, are the face of your company and so, you are the greatest influence on the marketing assets you have. Your behavior, attitude and choices have a profound effect upon your company. If you want to attract employees that will be assets to your company, you must be one too. If you want your employees to be generous to your clients with their time and help, you must be generous to them with your time and help. If you want them to be energetic and excited about your product, you must be energetic and excited too.

I think H. Gordon Selfridge, a retail magnate at the turn of the 20th century, summed it up well when he said: “The boss drives people; the leader coaches them. The boss depends on authority; the leader on good will. The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm. The boss says ‘I’; the leader says ‘we.’ The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown. The boss says ‘go’; the leader says ‘let’s go.”

So how do you obtain marketing assets and then increase their value? The answer is simple, be a leader not a boss.

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MAY 13, 2010

Convenience

We live in world that is obsessed with convenience. I myself am guilty of prizing convenience above many other virtues. Think about how much more convenient things are now than compared to 30 or even 20 years ago.

I have had the privilege of being a university student right out of high school as well as while an adult in my mid thirties. You know what I loved the second go around? How convenient it was to study. I never once had to make a trip to the library. I could get all my material online. I could order all my textbooks online (at a discounted rate!). It was truly fabulous. Think about how we get our media now. You no longer have to wait for your favorite song to play on the radio, you can go straight to YouTube and listen to it for free whenever you like. What about iTunes (which I love by the way)? You no longer have to spend $15-20 on a CD (or a cassette for my fellow children of the 80’s) that may only have a few songs you really like. You can customize your play lists and buy only the tracks you love.

You may ask where I am going with this and how this can help your company. My point is simple, find ways to make your products or services as conveniently accessible as possible. We as humans usually take the path of least resistance. Think of ways to reduce barriers to your products. This can be anything from beginning to offer your product on your website, allowing it to be downloadable online, offering free shipping, etc…

My challenge to you today is to think of one way to make your product more accessible to your customers and potential customers. I would love to hear some of your thoughts and ideas!

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MAY 13, 2010

Are Your Employees a Marketing Asset?

What do your employees say about your company? I don’t only mean in spoken word. If someone were to visit your office today; what would they see and hear, and more importantly how would they feel?  Would they feel comfortable? Would they think, “Hey these are the kind of people I want to do business with?” Would they be looking at the clock and ticking away the minutes before they could get out of there? In other words, are your employees a marketing asset or liability? All employees can be a marketing asset, whether they are in sales, development, accounting, management, etc.

There is a local company in my community that I pass by every weekday on my way to my child’s school. Frequently you will see their employees outside playing a game of ping pong or tossing a ball around. They look like they are having such a great time together. They look like a team! This sight caused me to want to know more about their company, so I looked them up on the web and did some research and was even more impressed! They actually provide services that may be useful for the company I work for. Who do you think I will be calling when that need arises? They are top on my list.

Whether you are an employee or an employer you should be asking yourself; what can I do to make myself and my office environment a marketing asset? The great thing about this type of marketing is it is essentially free and the ROI could be phenomenal. Happy office environments are more productive, creative and yes more marketable. So, before you spend more money on a glitzy ad campaign, you may want to think about investing in a ping pong table.

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MAY 12, 2010

The Profile of Today’s PR Person: D.A.R.C.s

These are the ideal qualifications for today’s PR person and marketer, according to Hubspot, the company behind the concept of Inbound Marketing.  I have tried to explain each term in 10 words or less.  If this has peaked your interest,  there’s more to read and explore at several Hubspot blogs.

D – Digital Native: Uber-comfortable with everything to do with the web!

A – Analytical: Use that results spreadsheet & pivot tables to make things better or fix what went wrong!

R – Reach:  A hundred media contacts is great; thousands of followers is even better…

C – Content Creator: Can you create content that attracts new media, i.e. those who twitter and blog?

s – Strategic: Dollars ain’t enough anymore; you need a remarkable product a winning strategy

In a nutshell, the role of the marketing professional is changing drastically in this emerging information economy.  But then, this only reflects the fact that companies are changing how they do business, how they build a brand and how they create buzz about a product.    

So, if you are pre-disposed to marketing or if you already have a career in marketing or if you are a product manager who wants to have a great product launch, you might want to make sure that these qualities are present in abundance in your marketing team!

As a sidenote, I’ve really proved Hubspot’s approach of Inbound Marketing right here, haven’t I?  I’ve taken interesting content, written about it, and have pointed you towards their website to learn more about it and incidentally, about them.

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MAY 11, 2010

Positioning for the Future

Here are some scary numbers from the venerable Boston Globe, beloved newspaper of Bostonites:

• It is estimated that the newspaper will lose $85 million this year alone

• Its ad revenue fell 18% last year

• Since 2004, its ad revenue declined 34%

• Its weekday readership during the same period fell 28%

A lot of this can be attributed to the economy and probably is. I tend to think this is more of a natural trend that is occuring, and that bad economic times have merely accelerated and dramatized the shift.

Just as this news is important for those in and around the newspaper publishing business, it is also important to those who are in the business of marketing. Things are changing. Rapidly.

We can brace ourselves for the changes yet to come. Or we can embrace the changes. I say, choose the latter. We will not only be positioning ourselves better for the future. We will be ready for the new opportunities that will come our way.

If you thought the above was scary, here is another one for you. Dan Kennedy, Boston media columnist and blogger of Media Nation is also an assistant professor for journalism at Northeastern U and writes for the Guardian. By the way, I got all these Boston related tidbits, ironically enough from an article in the NY Times (online). Mr Kennedy was quoted in the same article regarding a freshman journalism course he taught there. He said – “one of the things that really struck me was these students had basically no experience reading a newspaper of any kind.”

So, if these Boston Globe (and many, many other newspapers) numbers look bad today, can you imagine what they will look like in the future?

Change is inevitable, folks. The question is will it be voluntary, strategic, well-planned and embraced – or will it be forced on you? I am guessing that we all agree on which the preferred alternative is…

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MAY 11, 2010

About Marketing and Tapestries

I recently read a wonderful blog post of a local Alabama media marketing and sales person, Lisa Isbell, who has a blog called – How-to Marketing Advice and Tips – A resource for learning how to market your business.She compares marketing to a tapestry and how it is not about one medium or one message, but when well done, is like a finely woven tapestry. For those interested in marketing, I would highly recommend it – you can read it here.

I have been writing recently on what is happening with the newspaper industry – how its advertising model just is not working anymore. This article takes us into the finer points of what is happening in the overall advertising industry…and touches on all the new ways of marketing, including insights into how social media can be utilized in this new world. I will be writing a lot about this industry transition – or is it transformation? that is occuring.

Lisa’s blog post resonates very well in these times, and for me, since my business is all about marketing technology, more specifically targeted marketing technology. As a result, I tend to delve deep into what is going on with digital media and voraciously look for reading material anywhere I can find it. I find a lot of it online and in blog posts.

As marketing budgets get scrutinized, more than ever, in these tough economic times, it is imperative that marketers and business owners figure out how their marketing plans need to evolve. Sure, marketing budgets can be cut, but how is that going to impact your business in an already difficult environment? The idea is to figure out how you still get the kinds of exposure that you need by spending less. It is very possible. And, with all the new media out there that has yet to be fully explored or exploited, I would venture to say you could even work it to get better marketing results with less.

More later.

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MAY 10, 2011

Disconnecting to Really Connect

These past couple of weeks have been very interesting for many of us here in the south. Many of us have witnessed the awesome power of nature and the aftermath she leaves behind. For some, it was utter devastation and my heart truly goes out to those who lost so much. For the rest of us, it means rolling up our sleeves and pitching in to help our neighbors in need.

Many of us during this time were without electricity, which is truly a minor inconvenience in the wake of all that had happened to many of those near us. In fact, being without electricity for over four days actually ended up being quite a blessing and eye opener for me and my family.  It really gave us some wonderful distraction free time together. We have always been a close family that really does spend a lot of time together, but it was amazing how the quality of that time went up without the many distractions we normally have on a day to day basis. The other amazing part to me was the creativity that came when our day to day distractions were gone. We had a great time seeing what clever thing we could make on the grill for our meals. Did you know you can make cinnamon rolls, banana bread, snicker doodles and barbecue chicken pizza all on your outdoor grill? Sure it takes some extra time and effort, but it was well worth it! We actually had some of the best meals ever during this time. I also reveled in the opportunity to read books at night to my teenage children again. What made it even better is that they loved it too!

So, what distractions do you have in your life right now that could be hindering your work or office? Now don’t get me wrong, electricity and technology are wonderful things, but I dare you to turn those things off just for an hour and let the creative juices flow. Take the time to find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted, take a single light with you, a flashlight or a lantern or something like that, and just sit, enjoy the silence, and let everything else in your life go for just a short while. Don’t purposefully think about anything, and purposefully refuse to think about anything you “have” to be doing. I think you may be amazed at the results. Let me know if you try and what your results were.

Sometimes, I think we just need to disconnect to really connect.

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APRIL 22, 2010

An Important Word

In today’s world of business and marketing, an important word is making its presence felt. That word is RELEVANCE.

Make it relevant!

Unfortunately, as with any word that starts getting used more often, the word can lose its significance and meaning due to overuse and hype. I hope that does not happen with RELEVANCE. It’s a meaningful word for me in my business. In the area of marketing, people are talking about personalized and targeted marketing. All of that boils down to this – “is the message I am communicating relevant to the person I am talking to?”

If my communication is face-to-face, I can very quickly judge whether my conversation is relevant to the person I am speaking with. But, since not all communication is occuring face-to-face (is any?), how do we ensure that what we say has real meaning to the person on the receiving end?

In order to answer this question, I believe that first, marketers have to own up to a truth. As marketers, we have often assumed that just because we have been so creative or written the copy so well or packaged it all up so nicely – well, of course, we are relevant and people are interested in what we are telling them. They have to be. No, they don’t! No, they have not (all) been listening. Until, we can own up to this, will we really look for a new way to market and to communicate? We definitely won’t look for answers to the question – “is my message relevant to you?”

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APRIL 22, 2010

That word again

So, a few months ago saw the last issue of Rocky Mountain News published. Interestingly, it was covered by all the newspapers that I read (two paper and two online). I have neither lived in Colorado nor have I read the Rocky Mountain News but it felt like a milestone in my life. It appeared to me to say that this is the beginning of the end of newspapers – something that has been so important in my daily life. Maybe, its not. Maybe, it’s just one newspaper out of many. But, somehow, I don’t think that is the case.So, what happened? Did Rocky Mountain News just lose relevance? We can look at this in a business context and say that they just were not bringing in the revenue to cover the costs of running the newspaper. Why would that happen? Probably because the advertisers were not spending enough money. And, why would that be? Probably because they were not getting the returns from advertising.

It brings me back to “relevance” and what any business needs to do to stay relevant. In world of media, there is no question that we are at a major turning point, as “traditional” media struggles to stay relevant in a world with an advent of new media – online, mobile, social media. The time each of us has to consume content has not changed that much, but how we consume is changing faster than we can say “relevance”.

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APRIL 22, 2014

Nice guys finish last? I don’t think so!

At least not according to data compiled by AYTM Market Research.  According to a recent article by eMarketer, AYTM’s report shows that over 52% of internet users prefer small businesses to large companies because of “Personal Service”.  Additional surveys by Web.com and Toluna done last August found that the top three most important factors consumers consider when choosing small businesses are: 1) customer service, customer-focused (86%), 2) personal, intimate, human, face-to-face (84%), and 3) knows customers and their needs (84%).   Not surprisingly, 84% of US consumers associate customer service and customer-focus with small businesses.  The eMarketer article also notes that “61.2% of respondents [to the AYTM study] said they would pay higher prices to support small businesses.”

All of those numbers can make a great case for small business, but that is a post for another time.  My take away is this: large business or small, people value superior customer service.  Human beings expect to be treated like human beings, and if you can give them personal and personalized service, they are willing to pay for it.  Give your customers a remarkable experience and they will remark about it…to their family, their friends, their acquaintances, even perfect strangers! Give them a reason to come back and they might just bring the neighborhood with them.

So consider this: if you were receiving the kind of customer service you currently provide to your customers, would you continue doing business with your company?  Would you tell your friends? If you don’t immediately think “Yes!” then something needs to change.  Nice guys finish last?  Not in this connected economy!

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MARCH 27, 2013

Often, a Few Will Do

One of my family’s favorite television shows is NCIS. According to its ratings, we’re not alone.

Many of you may have come to love the character of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, played by Mark Harmon, as much as my family has. He is a powerful character, and a man of few words.

In the season 6 episode named “Heartland” Gibbs’ father says this: “I know you hate it when I use a hundred words when a few will do…”

As marketers, we sometimes need to think like Gibbs.

Often, our message is much, much more effective when we find a way to say it with fewer words.

Nuff said.

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OCTOBER 26, 2011

One to One Marketing, Mom and Pop Style

Over the decades, as businesses have grown, the Mom and Pop style of running a business suffered, and so nostalgia has grown over the years for those “better days”.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we walked into a store and knew the proprietor, and they knew us? We would call each other by name (our first names) and ask about the kids or the spouse or the job or the car we’ve been restoring in our garage.

We long for the days when we weren’t accosted by a stranger the second we walked into the furniture store, trying to sell us what they think, from a moments glance, might be the thing we want—or even worse, the thing they get the most commission for.

Most of us haven’t even experienced these “good old days”, but we can see the appeal and even develop a longing just the same.

Businesses everywhere are using technology to try to bring back the “mom and pop” feel to their businesses. Many, though, do it wrong.

Here is a list of considerations that are a must when trying to personalize your marketing and your business.

1. Your customer expects you to know certain things about them, so you SHOULD use these things to personalize your online and printed communications with them.  Seamlessly calling your customer by name, referring to past purchases, referring to shared events (like a dentist’s reminder for an appointment), etc.

2. Your customer will get creeped out if you demonstrate that you have information they never gave you. If you can buy demographic information, don’t tell your customer that you know their income, how many kids they have, or anything else.

Be subtle when you use demographic data—like tailoring the images and/or text to match age, gender, and other demographic attributes.

3. Use what you know about your customer to help THEM, not yourself. The secret here is that if you do this, it will help your business far more than any other approach.

4. Know your data. It sounds cold and impersonal, but one of the best ways to get to know your customer is to get to know your data. What products are popular? What types of customers are buying which types of products? The trick is, when you look at your data, try very hard to see the people that gave you that data.

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JUNE 22, 2010

Perception “Be’s”

Perception is powerful. How your customers and/or potential customers perceive you can ultimately define the success of your business.

Perception is based on the insight and knowledge your customers have about you. So, how do you go about giving them clear insight and knowledge of your business, your people and its practices?

Here are some “Be’s” for you to follow:

1. Be who and what you say you are

2. Be responsive( especially if your customer is having an issue)

3. Be approachable (remember, people do business with people)

4. Be organized

5. Be generous with your time

6. Be proactive

7. Be passionate about your product or service (If you aren’t, who will be?)

To quote the Army, “Be all that you can be”!

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