Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Hubspot article on new platforms for 2021

November 9, 2021

I have added another blogpost related to HubSpot and new social media platforms. Take a look and thank you HubSpot:

http://growthstrategy.consulting/thoughts-from-hubspot-on-new-platforms/

What I have been doing for the past 45 days

May 2, 2020

I have not used this blog in a while, and I have made the decision that there will still be professional posts, but from time to time, I will record what I am seeing on a personal level. So, these are some musings on life under COVID-19 after having been on essentially lock down for the past 45 days. They are random, and some may resonate with you and others may not.

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This journey started for us while we were out in California, and we came back early under the assumption that the LA airport might well be shut down. (Fortunately, it wasn’t). Some thoughts and observations that I have had.

  • I am enjoying reading some of the Twitter hashtag threads, especially as they relate to current events. One of my favorite early ones was #DiefortheDow and #Leadershipin5words is another one where I found it interesting what people thought. Some are a macabre, some are funny, some are dead serious.
    • I also can get easily lost on TikTok, which is new for me, and is just a fascinating slice of society.
  • I am watching way too much television, especially the news. Much of it is repetitious, but I am starting to look forward to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily talks. Mayor Bill de Blasio isn’t bad either.
    • On the other hand, I am puzzled sometimes at what Governor Ron DeSantis (FL) has to say. And the Governors of Georgia and Texas are just inexplicable.
  • I don’t go out all that much, except for walks and going to the supermarket, but am tired of washing my hands 37 time a day.
    • The flip side is that I do like that the streets have much less traffic on them, which in South Florida is a very good thing…
  • I seem to get about 20 requests a day for Zoom meetings, and the majority of them are for things I have no interest in.
    • Conversely, the Zoom meetings that I am interested in, I can’t seem to get into.
    • The ones I have gone to have been fascinating.
  • I have done more online mentoring. This has been fun for me.
  • I have also driven my online class at Lynn University crazy with my level of engagement 🙂
  • My spam mail has definitely gone up, and since I have 6 email accounts, it has become very noticeable.
    • I am definitely tired of COVID-19 emails and how various people want to help me get through this. Take another approach, please.
  • At least here, it is very hard to get paper products, disinfectants, flour and meat. These isles in the supermarkets, supercenters, drug stores, dollar stores, etc. are just bare. When you see any of these, you need to grab them.
  • Takeout from time to time is fine, but I do miss eating in a restaurant.
  • I am definitely getting to bed earlier. I’m not sure I am sleeping any better though.

I would love to hear some thoughts from you about how you spend your day. Tell me something great!

Claude Hopkins, Part 3: Offer Service

August 29, 2018

Claude-Hopkins-picture2-194x300In this short chapter, Claude Hopkins talks to service as a viable advertising strategy. He argues that they should, in today’s terms, provide value. He references that they should provide information, that they should educate, that they should cite advantages to the user, and that they should do what they can to eliminate risk on the part of the consumer. Does this sound familiar to us? I would think that it should.

He provides several examples in this short chapter about how a salesperson might act in the situation. As you will remember, Hopkins considered advertising to be salesman in print. He had little or no use for advertising that did not advance the sales process, or as we would say today, the customer journey. He was concerned that advertising people sought to advance their own agenda and “spoke to their own interests” rather than to those of their customers.

Today we speak of choosing a target audience and speaking to that audience in a manner they can relate to. This would make sense to Hopkins.

That said, there is a great deal of discussion around how targeting and personalization are defined. The reality is that in most instances, we do not have enough accurate information around any given consumer to completely personalize. But we can base our communications on what we do know about that person. It often starts with demographics, and then proceeds onto to behavioral and psychographic data, depending on how much information the consumer is willing to volunteer. Using our own data and experience with a person is often a better point for starting a dialog than buying targeted profiles, although we may need to do this to get started and to expand our audience.

And this would also have appealed to Hopkins.  He felt that “people can be coaxed but not driven.” A face-to-face sales encounter would have followed a pattern but would also have varied person to person that the salesperson encountered. Again…not all that dissimilar to what we are trying to do today.

Claude Hopkins on Salesmanship and Relationship Building in Advertising

July 18, 2018

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When we last visited Claude Hopkins, I indicated we would pick up with his second chapter of his book “Scientific Advertising”, which is based on salesmanship. In this chapter he also speaks to an extent to understanding and building a relationship with the customer.

While the language is somewhat out of date, I do think the thinking behind the language fits in well with our current digital world thinking on relationship building, personalization and getting to know the customer.

Initially he indicates that advertising is salesmanship, and that the “only purpose of advertising is to make sales”. He further argues “that it is not to keep your name in front of people” There are some other thoughts that he expresses, but it is obvious that he is a direct marketer and did not think much of institutional advertising.

I agree with this. But he also goes on to talk about the way that that is accomplished: through thinking of customers as people and taking their perspective, not your own. In his own words: “Don’t think of people in mass…think of the typical individual that you would want to sell” and “The advertising man (or woman) studies the consumer. He tries to place himself in the place of the buyer.” He felt that ads were often written more to please the seller than the buyer. Claude always believed the buyer (or the customer) should come first.

This is very much in keeping with what we try to accomplish today with much better tools than Claude ever had. According to emarsys,  “There are 3 strategic objectives that digital marketers need to set and measure in order to generate revenue.

The 3 strategic objectives are:

  1. Convert leads into buying customers
  2. Increase the LTV (Life time Value) of your customers
  3. Win-back inactive and lost customers“ (emarsys, n.d.)

They argue that everything we do should be oriented to one or more of these objectives. As we work through Claude, we will see that he would appreciate this thinking. All three objectives align with points that he makes related to direct marketing. Advertising should be convincing and that the appropriate points must be made at the appropriate point in the sales cycle.

Next time we will look at Claude’s views on service…

Emarsys (n.d.) 3 Strategic Goals Of Digital Marketing. Retrieved from: https://www.emarsys.com/en/resources/blog/3-strategic-goals-digital-marketing-ohad-hecht/

Time spent with Richard R. Shapiro

December 29, 2016

A couple weeks back, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and having lunch with Richard R. Shapiro. We were introduced by a mutual trusted friend, and I knew initially that Richard was a customer experience guru, but very little else. We had communicated and uncovered a common New Jersey connection, and of course, I had checked out his web site (http://tcfcr.com/about-richard-r-shapiro/ ) and LinkedIn profile.

While what I had learned about Richard was truly impressive, it in no way prepared me for the wonderful experience of having lunch with him. At the end of our meeting, he the-endangered-customer-3dprovided me with a copy of his latest book, The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business. Since I had met and spent time with the author, I could hear his voice in my head as I read. But I assure you, that is not necessary to learn from this book.

Put simply, the book is well worth the read, even if you consider yourself to be a customer service maven. The “thought provoking questions” in Appendix 2 alone are worth making the effort.

As a starting point, I will list the 8 (important) steps that form the basis of his book:

  1. Make me feel welcome (hope)
  2. Give me your full attention (control)
  3. Answer more than my question (connect)
  4. Know your stuff (trust)
  5. Don’t tell me NO (frustration)
  6. Invite me to Return (feel wanted)
  7. Show me I matter (caring)
  8. Surprise me in good ways (feel special)

Most of these may seem obvious to people who have been involved in either B2C or B2B customer and client relationships, so instead of further elaboration, I will recommend reading for Richard’s perspective on these points, a perspective that is very clear and somewhat unique in this day and age when we seek to distill everything into a formula.

There are, however, a couple of the points he made throughout the book, I would like to elaborate on.

The most important point overall is that Richard speaks to all the customer annoyances, both large and small, that can undermine or break a relationship with your organization. In essence, this is really the focus of each of the eight points above. Often these annoyances go unnoticed.

Many organizations feel today that technology can be substituted for human contact, emotion and thought. There certainly is a place for machine technology (AI or machine learning, historical databases) to supplement and support the human-to-human experience, but at this point, the human factor cannot be completely replaced. Nor should it be. So, while marketing automation and CRM can be incredibly valuable tools, they also cannot yet be put on autopilot and allowed to run the show.

This is how we end up with communications with no personality…and communications that make no sense…and communications that fail to build relationships with our customers.

I have seen that even younger generations than myself enjoy human contact, although expectations and tone are very different. All generations still have respect for people who know “things” and can add the additional information into the mix that make the experience better and at the same time, make them feel important and like they have choices.

And it is not just customers that are important: The importance of employees to the mix of relationship building cannot be underestimated. Not only do highly adaptive employees keep the organizations vibrant, but they add to customers feeling connected and add to the continuity of the relationship. Key employees must not be viewed as a cost, but as a resource. These resources, like any other organizational resources, should be protected and cultivated, and allowed to grow and develop.

With this in mind, cultivating long term employees to aid with the customer journey is also a must for most organizations, especially employees that frequently interact with their customers.  Long term employees are typically better able and equipped to say “yes” or at least, not say “no”. As Richard points out: “Even when you cannot say yes, you must never say no. Tell customers what you can do, not what you can’t do.”

Employees at the end of the sales process (especially in retail) often determine whether the customer leaves feeling like they had a good, neutral or bad experience.  Your front-line team must be able to recognize the signs and empowered to act on this. I have personally seen this in practice first hand, and have seen how much impact to build or save a relationship that a cashier can have, especially one with a level of authority to rectify a situation or at least the mandate to display empathy.

Finally, remember the entire product or service life cycle or what we often call today, the customer journey. Many organizations are great at developing leads, many do an excellent job at point of sale (or bringing the sale to a point of close). Fewer organizations recognize the need for further building the relationship after the sale. This is often because they do not fully grasp the concept that repeat business is better ensured when the relationship is appropriately continued.

All too often when attempted, the effort is a perfunctory thank you email, more efforts to sell additional products or services, or nothing at all. And these contacts often do not provide time for the customer to properly evaluate their decision nor do they fit with the usage cycle.

True relationship builders recognize the value of building customer loyalty after the sale; in other words, closing the loop with our new friend, the customer. Invite the person to return before breaking contact during the sale and tell them how to do it, including how to contact you. Tell them in advance what to do if they have a problem or concern. Make sure to follow up after resolution if they do have a problem or concern.  An example from the book highlights a wedding shop that calls after the wedding to see how the event went, and if the bride received compliments and is still pleased with her choice.

This discussion only scratches the surface, as the book is short but also highly compact. There is a great deal packed into this short book, and Richard is an amazing storyteller.  I can only state that you should make the effort to pick up and digest this great book.

“They change our vision of the world…”

August 3, 2016

A great TED Talk from earlier this year by mathematician,Cédric Villani…  a man who is so far beyond what I can comprehend, yet very clearly done:

 

Enjoy!

The Olympic Bullies

July 30, 2016

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I felt a strong need to share this blog post from Seth Godin here on my blog. (Not 100% sure that I can, but since I am not a business per se, it is probably OK.) I assure you it is quite short, but still rather insightful: Jumping the Olympic Shark

This post highlights how brands that have lost their way will often become bullies, and seek to close down discussion that the brand is not been paid for. He reminds us that Brand is not a word, but rather a set of expectations. You can’t build a brand by suing those who choose to talk about your brand. Something we would all be well served to remember…

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“There is a season, and a time to every purpose, under heaven”: How we learn today…

July 20, 2016

So go the lyrics from the Byrd’s classic song “Turn, Turn, Turn”. The group was referring to the fact that there is a time and a place for everything. In my mind, this phrase also applies to the options we all have today to learn what we want to or what we need to.

The opportunity to learn today for those who want to is amazing…in addition to the traditional learning venues, there are so many quality options of online material and classes to digest, with many different delivery methodologies and structures. You can learn virtually anything you want to today, from Quantum Mechanics to web coding to how to fix a shower head.

The Byrds

The Byrds

I am a firm believer in the formalized education process, but I also recognize that there are times when the right levels of skills or knowledge mean more than the experience or even the credentialing. There are situations where timing of the need may be a significant factor in the decision. In a professional setting, the modern “corporation-of-one” economy supports this need, as in many fields, the knowledge base changes rather quickly and the need may well be urgent. As indicated in the Byrd’s lyric above, there may be times (seasons) of our life where some choices make more sense than others.

(more…)

Start-up Nation and Michael Porter on Clusters

June 23, 2016

 

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It was recently recommended to me that I read Start-up Nation (by Dan Senor and Saul Singer), the book on innovation and how it is executed in the State of Israel. Having been involved with start-ups here in the United States at several points in my career here in the US, it was amazing to me that this book had never broached my consciousness. While I can be oblivious at times, in fairness, I was working marathon weeks in an “intrepreneurial” start up at the time. But still…

There are several reasons why Israel has developed this capacity, but one of the factors brought back some thinking that captured my imagination over a decade ago…the idea of economic clusters. I recognized the value of this concept while in the Direct Mail business and growing up in an area that was an economic cluster for the pharmaceutical industry, I think this was a natural inclination.

This became one of the standards on which I judged potential partnerships or mergers when previously working in the consulting field. And it certainly impacted my thinking on interacting with the internal infrastructure when building and nurturing programs/

This was an idea that was formalized by Michael Porter, whose Competitive Advantage and Competitive Strategy books had formed a great deal of my early career thinking. In his work on clusters, he highlights three points that have impact:

1. Productivity
2. Driving Direction and the Pace of Innovation
3. Stimulate the formation of new businesses

These are all important, but I think the biggest takeaway at the time for me was the first point, productivity. All players in a cluster drive each other to be more productive, a factor that leads to greater innovation and higher business formation. The fact that they are geographically grouped also adds to the productivity. Clusters tend to create an overall environment where the whole ecosystem is greater the sum of the parts.

Clusters are typically intensely competitive, yet this also allows paradoxically for greater cooperation and closer ties to partners within the cluster. This is a reality that is often discounted in the virtual world we live in, however, it is still more comfortable to know that a partner closely tied to your business is an hour away by car as opposed to halfway around the world.

Of course, clusters can have downsides too. Instead of expanding and spawning new businesses, they can attempt to consolidate leading to an actual restriction of trade and innovation. They can fall prey to industry groupthink. This often happens in instances where the cluster turns oligopolistic rather than retaining its innovative roots.

I strongly suggest reading both Start-Up Nation and Michael Porter is you are on the strategy side of innovation.

Photo courtesy of: Pankaj Biswas