Friday, February 27, 2009
Every now and then, something happens in a business situation that just makes me crazy. Sometimes it's the simplest thing—something that is so basic you would never even give it a thought if you were a business owner, yet it can affect the business in a profound way.
Let me ask you a question: "Do your employees know where they work?" Or should I rephrase that as: "Do your employees know where on the surface of the planet they are standing?"
Here's what happened to me: I was in a town that I was a little familiar with but still did not have a full knowledge of. I had been trying to buy a certain product from a certain store that I knew was the only one that carried it, but all the stores in that chain in my area were back-ordered. So while away, I took the opportunity to call information, get the number of the local branch and call them.
"Yes," the guy on the phone line said, "We do have that product in stock."
"That's great!" I said, "I'll be right over!"
This is where the whole thing fell apart: I asked him where the store was located. He replied, "I don't really know, I'm new in town."
I asked him how he managed to get to work and he said that he could find the place but he couldn't describe that to me! And there was no one else there with him that could assist.
This is a town of about 15,000 people—it's not New York! I was going to spend about $300 in that store but as I never found it, that sale was lost. Now this may seem basic, but shouldn't an employee, who is trusted, and supposedly competent enough to take charge of a retail store on his own, be expected to not only know the merchandise but where the hell the store is actually located?
When I got home, I looked it up on Google and guess what—the store was just two blocks from where I made the call! A stupid employee can really run your business reputation down and lose you money—so "hire" beware!
Does anyone out there have any stupid employee stories to share?
Thursday, February 26, 2009
We hope you know by now that we are rabid supporters of Make A Referral Week, March 9 - 13. Which gives us a chance to rant a bit about customer service and how it helps or hinders your ability to get referrals.
Last week someone backed out of his driveway and hit Liz's car. Here's the story.
What a pain in the neck. Even if the insurance covered everything, and I was covered for a rental car, I still had to schlep up to the repair guys, get an estimate, get the rental, leave the car, pick up the car, get the rental back...you've been there too, I bet.
However, the car shop actually called me as soon as they heard from the insurance company. Smart, and also a boon to me since I usually have to call when this happens.
When I came to pick up the car, which was ready EXACTLY when the shop said it would be, I discovered to my complete delight that my car had been not only repaired, but completely detailed. Washed inside and out, all the leather cleaned up, the dashboard bright and shiny and...the trunk cleaned out (great because all kinds of dog stuff gets stored in there and it gets a bit pongy).
As a result, we are delighted to recommend Mike Wilson at Wilson Collision in Cobourg Ontario, phone 905-372-0505. And we will give him all our business forever.
Take a minute think about what you could do to generate referrals, and make a pledge today for Make A Referral Week!
Friday, February 20, 2009
We loved this post by Geoffrey James so much, and it not surprisingly generated such a lot of response, that we are quoting it here. See the whole thing and follow the debate here.
In our previous lives in large multinational ad agencies, we often got in the middle of the sales-versus-marketing scrum. In one memorable meeting, we kept the Sales VP from throttling the senior Brand Manager.
Here's our choice for the best from this conversation:
That's right - in a traditional company with a sales team, the role of marketing is to support the sales force.
The problem is that many marketeers don’t really understand how technology has changed the way that buyer and sellers interact.
From mikertz: Marketing is like foreplay and sales is like sex. they’re crappy without each other and even when they’re both bad, they’re still better than nothing.
GJ's response: How about sales is like having sex and marketing is like talking about lingerie. Because that’s the reality in most cases.
Salesforce.com has managed to grow itself into a major force in the software industry, effectively beating Microsoft at its own game. This is no small feat and is an accomplishment shared by only two companies that come to mind: Intuit and Google.According to SVP George Hu, Salesforce.com has achieved this almost-unprecedented feat largely because it doesn’t practice much traditional marketing. Instead, it treats marketing as a service organization to sales, and keeps the focus on turning customers into proponents and advocates.
If you've ever worked in a large corporation, you gotta read James' first post:
- LIE #1: Branding is vital to your success.
- LIE #2: We can train you to sell.
- LIE #3: Our market research is scientific.
- LIE #4: We can handle the media.
- LIE #5: We are giving you good leads.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Last week I had the opportunity to visit a "creative shop" in another city. I had heard that Glue Strategic Solutions, (http://www.fixesthatstick.com), had an unusual office but I was still very surprised when I walked in and actually saw it!
I should tell you that this office is not in a trendy loft space in a cool urban renewal area — it's in a recently built steel and glass office tower among investment firms and insurance companies.
Walk in the door and you're in the kitchen! Yes, the kitchen, complete with a vintage chrome set, stainless steel appliances, microwave, blender etc. You have to go through here to get to the actual offices! But it's a great tour as there's lots of really interesting stuff to look at — every door has a neat little plaque with the company's logo on it with one word that's nothing particular to do with who or what the space is used for. Words like: think, create, learn, design. Kinda gets you in the mood for a creative presentation!
The walls are green. Not just green, but GREEN. And it looks good!
Windows line one wall, and because we are on the 19th floor, the view is spectacular outside as well! The actual workspace is neat and efficient in a larger room shared by four creative collaborators who sit at matching desks with double screen monitors — all the equipment is top-notch and matching and the place is kept spotless.
Here's the point, and you may have been wondering when I'd get to one: no matter who comes through that door, they'd have to be extremely visually challenged not to know what calibre of work was produced in that office. I was ready to see great creative even before I removed my coat.
In these days, when many of us work in home offices, it was a refreshing change to experience a downtown office that was fun to be in. Not just a sterile box of cubicles. I'm sure the clients of this company love to visit and feel very at home there. The owner tells me clients just wander over to the fridge and grab a drink or a snack whenever they feel like it — the kitchen puts everybody at ease, kind of like when you throw a party and everyone hangs out in the kitchen all night.
I'll bet they have a lot easier time selling their creative concepts to clients who are already pre-sold by the creative environment and in a relaxed frame of mind. Does anyone have any thoughts on how your office affects your image and thus the way your clients deal with you?
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The goal for the week is to generate 1000 referred leads to 1000 deserving small businesses and highlight the impact of a simple action that could blossom into millions of dollars in new business.
As the talk of recession crowds the news and economic stimulus package debates rage, it’s time for small businesses to take the matter into their own hands.
Small business is the lifeblood and job-creating engine of the economy and merits the positive attention so often saved for corporate bailout stories.
The week long virtual event will feature daily education programs focused on teaching small business owners and other marketers how to tap the power of referral marketing.
Check out the site: http://www.makeareferralweek.com
Have a look, tell me what you think, get involved.
Monday, February 9, 2009
This got me to thinking, "Would I really want my message on that bench?" There are so many new places a business can advertise these days: the internet, on top of taxis, bus shelters, the buses themselves. I've even seen ads that were printed on the wheel discs of taxis! …not to mention the traditional media: magazines, newspapers, broadcast and flyers of all kinds. Lack of choice is definitely not a problem!
Thing is though, how many of those mediums are suitable for what you are offering? And maybe even more important, what can your marketing budget afford? I have to admit that those taxi wheel disc ads were for a large soft drink company who is probably represented in almost every advertising medium under the sun but what should a small advertiser do who doesn't have the marketing budget that a large multi-national has?
We find that many smaller advertisers are affected by the "advertising idea of the month" syndrome. That is, whatever new ad medium that pops up, or whatever salesperson eases in the door with a smooth sales pitch for advertising on: waste bins, smokestacks, hot air balloons, supermarket floors or what-have-you.
We recently took a look at the places a new client had been advertising his high-end renovating business. He was in all the local yellow page phone books with a display ad. There are four different books in this area and they are not cheap! As well, he was in two different free magazines that came quarterly with the newspapers. These are full of local interest stories and colour printing but they only reach the exact same audience that the newspapers go to.
The other place he was represented in was a controlled distribution quarterly magazine with a very high reader demographic. Beautifully designed and printed, this one is aimed squarely at the upscale clientele he is after.
What did we recommend? Simply this: go with regular, non display listings in the phone books, cut out the ads in the free newspaper magazines and increase the size of the ads in the upscale publication with the money saved. There's even some dollars left over that we can use for some special sales event ads in the daily newspaper. It's not brain surgery, just figure out who your ideal customers are, find what they read or listen to, and advertise there.
What do you think?
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
This brings to mind something that happened to me many years back when I and a business partner owned a small advertising agency. One morning two gentlemen walked in unannounced and asked to see the agency president. They were an odd pair, a tall skinny man in a really cheap, old-fashioned suit and shoes and a shorter Japanese gentleman who spoke hardly any English.
Although my partner and I were busy with other things at the time, we reluctantly agreed to meet the men and ushered them into the meeting room to find out what they wanted from us.
As it turned out, they wanted to hire us as their advertising agency. We had never heard of their company and were skeptical at first but finally agreed to take them on as a client.
Well, to make a long story short, they were setting up the Canadian office of an international company, based in Japan, which was well-established around the world! We quickly learned that their product, a childrens' learning system, was highly regarded and an industry leader.
We worked on that business for over ten years and it was a mainstay account in our agency resulting in hundreds of thousands in profits!
The point of this is: you never know who you are going to meet so treat everyone fairly and listen to what they have to say.
Has anyone else had a similar experience?
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
We're betting it's no different here. Have a look:
- 36% of retailers questioned are leaving themselves vulnerable by not proactively checking customers debt history or credit records
- Only 7% of the respondents indicated they are actually focusing on improving the collections of outstanding debt over other business demands
68% of retailers are prioritizing cutting operational costs over increasing revenues and profits
What this means is that retailers are not identifying their best customers, and would rather damage the shopping experience than invest in their best customers - the very people who will get them out of trouble and ensure that they are on top once times improve.
We feel a rant coming on.
Monday, February 2, 2009
We wish we had said this, but Clate Mask already did, and very well, too.
"When the media is preaching gloom and doom, when casual conversations are weighed down by the "R" word and when many folks fear the feature, THIS is when entrepreneurs get to show their stuff. This is when their traits of creativity, optimism and tenacity are the most valuable.
We are nimble. We know our best customers intimately. We can adjust our sales and marketing programs instantly. and we can target our marketing efforts to get reall live qualified leads in the door.
Here are 5 steps you can take to get your ROI up on your direct lead gen programs.
1. Plan in advance and save, save, save
The "tactic of the week" approach is completely unaffordable for small business owners. You will spend more than you need on everything from rush printing and shipping charges to overtime, and your return on investment (ROI) will plummet.
2. Target Ideal Customer clones
Identify who your Ideal Clients are and target people or businesses just like them. You can buy lists with a wide range of demographic criteria from company size to personal credit rating. Send messages that are laser-focused on their biggest frustration, not a generic "products and services" message.
3. Build up, clean up and measure your email list
Between 5-20% of your list will be incorrect, uninterested or dead if you haven't taken the time to clean the list properly. You'll find this out right away when your mail comes back as undeliverable or your email open rates tank. Contacts may lose interest, forget they opted-in, lose touch with the industry, or can't handle the e-mail volume you're sending.
4. Transform your website into a sales site
You cannot afford a web site that's simply a company brochure, with no call-to-action. Transform your website into a sales person by asking prospects to do something! The most successful sites include educational material prospects need and want, invitations to events, and tips and tricks people can download right away. Most importantly you can measure your effectiveness with web analytics right away.
5. Follow up with prospects
You must plan to follow up with prospects as soon as they respond - and that means the very same day. In this economy, your competition is just waiting to pounce on that lead. This doesn't necessarily mean a personal sales call - automated follow-up engines make it easy to follow up with dynamic content seconds after the prospect clicks through from your email or phones your info line.