69 posts categorized "Weblogs"

July 14, 2006

Receptionists

I got a gift certificate for a massage... went to the spa/place to collect it, and the harried receptionist looked up at me and said, "Are you here for a haircut?"

Oh.

Just about every organization has a receptionist. Sometimes, he or she is merely a guardian, a patrol designed to keep the riffraff in the lobby.

Other times, though, a receptionist can change the entire tone of an interaction. If you've got someone answering your phone, greeting your clients--who have traveled a thousand miles to visit your office--or otherwise dealing with the outside world, I think it's time to do some simple cost/benefit analysis.

If the receptionist greets just 100 people a day, that's 20,000 people a year. Is it worth a dollar per interaction to transform all of those interactions into something spectacular? In other words, instead of hiring the cheapest person, or sticking with the existing person because it's easier, what if you invested in a truly remarkable experience?

July 13, 2006

Fear of a small enemy

Most big organizations operate out of fear as much as they do out of a desire for growth. And a new fear is spreading through the marketing department: fear of the little guy.

Forever and ever, the masses were king. People were disconnected, so annoying three or six or even 10% of your audience wasn't such a big deal.

Now, though, that lone disgruntled customer can make an awful lot of noise on her blog.

While some organizations are trying to flip the funnel and give a megaphone to their happiest customers (leveraging their positive word of mouth) more are obsessed with silencing the dissenters.

Just as asymmetrical warfare has turned our geopolitical system upside down, the same thing is happening in the marketing world. While it's tempting to spend all your time stamping out the little enemies, the architecture of the system favors a strategy of embracing and leveraging your happy constituents instead.

PS Jeff Jarvis has a different take here. Of course, I think it's pretty obvious you must do both. Your enemies, though small in number, can really hurt you now.

PPS So, I wrote this, then read Jarvis, then a minute later, heard from Tom. Go figure.

[reposted due to Typepad's crash yesterday]

Plop plop fizz fizz... doubling sales

Alka Seltzer (made with baking soda) doubled their sales in just one day. How? By putting two "plops" into the commercial... before that, people only took one. It put Mary Wells on the map as a marketer.

Heinz did the same thing when a squeeze bottle replaced a glass bottle for ketchup.

The car radio and DVD player increased car mileage for families.

Laptop computers dramatically increased the time people spend doing work.

(The internet dramatically decreased it, so we're even).

Comments (and commentful) double or triple the number of times some individuals visit individual blog posts.

20% of the people in Georgia drink Coca Cola for breakfast.

Sarbox tripled the amount of time accountants and lawyers spend with public companies.

And I'll finish my list with another baking-soda-related remedy that doesn't work either: Buying a box for your fridge.

July 11, 2006

Archetypes: Cinderella and Superman

Kurt Andersen did almost an hour on Superman last week... and I found myself driving slower to hear it all. A&E did a special on the history of him as well... though he's hardly underexposed (except for the underwear part).

And today on Fifth Ave., women were falling all over themselves to spend $300 instead of $500 for $14 worth of fabric and a few cleverly applied cuts and stitches.

The Superman archetype drives sales of everything from SUVs to compensation consultants and personal trainers. And the entire multi-billion dollar fashion and cosmetic industries are driven by Cinderella.

The genius of Siegel and Shuster (who invented Superman and sold him for a few hundred bucks to DC) was in taking the stuff that was already in the water supply and turning it into the seeds of a "new media" empire.

July 10, 2006

When the web comes apart

The web used to be a collection of sites, loosely linked. Domain was king.

Google blew up the web. The web became a collection of pages, more tightly linked, and you could find any page you needed.

Reddit and Digg and Delicious atomize the web. No need to read blogs any more. Instead, let others do it for you, and these (and the many other) social news services surface the most interesting, the hottest, the most controversial posts for you.

This satisfies a basic human need... to do what others are doing, to read what others are reading. It reorganizes the scattered threads of discourse, creating a few (instead of a million or a billion) reading lists.

Of course, there will be a million imitators and improvers. And then another generation to synthesize them (a la popurls). It's not the end, just another beginning.

July 08, 2006

Hard sell at the farmer's market

New guy was there, taking Michael's place. He had these little amazing eggplants with him, and he wasn't prepared to let anyone walk away from the stand without one.

Each person who walked up to buy lettuce or raspberries heard, in detail, about the eggplants. And a huge number of people bought.

I did. They were delicious.

Most people are afraid of eggplant. They won't buy it. They need to be sold it.

And after they're sold, they're often glad they were sold.

In our permission marketing world, sometimes it's easy to forget how important selling is. Not because people are so stupid that they need to be sold something. Not because selling is obsolete because you can just search for what you want and then buy it. No, because selling overcomes fear. Fear of closing, fear of commitment, fear of blanching or sauteeing or just plain fear of buying something.

Salespeople who sell properly sell stuff people wish they would have bought in the first place. It's a huge service... I'm pretty sure we need more good salespeople, not less.

July 03, 2006

Who sets your agenda?

In the States, today is one of those weird pre-holiday days.

Many people aren't working. Some are half working. For most people, their work agenda for today was set by the calendar or their boss.

Weekends are stressful for a lot of people who love their work, because the agenda gets reset, reset by family, not by an internal to-do list or a boss.

And at work, where does your list come from? Do you answer emails by date received, by urgency, by sender? Who decides that? Which blogs do you read, which tasks do you do?

It's fascinating to watch someone who has made a shift from a big company to solo work, or the other way around. The biggest challenge, by far, is one of agenda. What do I do now? What do I do next?

What tends to get done is what's urgent, not important--you've heard that before.

I think, though, that with the new tools and new leverage available to us, the decisions get even more important. Should NBC invest money in free online YouTube content or another show for the 9 pm Thursday slot? That's an agenda question first and foremost. Should you go on another sales call or improve the materials you've got so the next call will go better? Back to agenda.

Because we do it every day, we tend to take it for granted. We assume our agenda is exactly the right one, and we tweak it, we don't overhaul it.

What if, on Wednesday, you overhauled it?

June 30, 2006

So, what's wrong with small business?

Erik Severin points us to Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? The essence, I think, is that entrepreneurs think big thoughts and do big things, while small business owners settle, working their way through the day to day.

The distinction I've always made is that an entrepreneur is trying to make money while she sleeps, and does it with someone else's money! That she builds a business bigger than herself, that scales for a long time, that is about processes and markets. A small businessperson, on the other hand, is largely a freelancer with support, someone who understands the natural size of her business and wants to enjoy the craft of doing it every day.

The more I see both, the happier it appears that small business people are. They often make more money, take fewer risks, sleep better and build something for the ages, something they believe in and can polish and be proud of.

Growth for growth's sake makes less sense every day.

PS please don't read this as anti-entrepreneur! I'm one, and proud of it. I think I was boosting the small business side more than I was tearing down the entrepreneur side...

Four things to remember

1. Ryan points us to Hello hello? XM's Wrong Number Fiasco - Orbitcast.com. Always check the phone number and url on anything you print. Have a friend dial it, just to be sure.

2. If you have an apartment, get tenant's insurance.

3. If you ride a bike, wear a helmet

and

4. Don't put anything about a customer or a boss in an email or on a blog that you don't want the world to see.

Enjoy your weekend.

June 29, 2006

Nine things marketers ought to know about salespeople (and two bonuses)

Continuing in the series:

  1. Selling is hard. Harder than you may ever realize. So, if I seem stressed, cut me some slack.
  2. Selling is personal. When I make a promise, I have to keep it. If you force me to break that promise (by changing processes, features or a rollout schedule) I will never forgive you.
  3. Selling is interpersonal. I am not moving bits, I'm trying to change people's minds, one person at a time. So, no, I can't tell you when the sale will close. No one knows, especially the prospect.
  4. I love selling. I particularly love selling great stuff, well marketed. Don't let me down. Don't ask me to sell lousy stuff.
  5. I'm extremely focused on the reward half of the equation. Salespeople love to keep score, and that's how I keep score. So don't change the rules in the middle, please.
  6. I have no earthly idea what really works. I don't know if it's lunch or that powerpoint or the Christmas card I sent last year. But you know what? You have no clue what works either. I'll keep experimenting if you will.
  7. There is no comparison, NONE, between an inbound call (one that you created with marketing) and a cold call (one that you instructed me to create with a phone book.) Your job is to make it so I never need to make a cold call.
  8. Usually, customers lie when they turn me down. They make up reasons. But every once in a while, I actually learn something in the field. Ask!
  9. I know you'd like to get rid of me and just take orders on the web. But that's always going to be the low-hanging fruit. The game-changing sales, at least for now, come from real people interacting with real people.
  10. (a bonus, switching points of view for a moment): I know that selling is hard and unpredictable. But if you're going to be in sales, you've got to be prepared to measure and predict and plan. You need to give me sales reports and call lists and summaries. It does neither of us any good to keep your day a secret. If you don't plan and organize, I can't do my job of marketing.
  11. (and bonus number two): The two worst pieces of feedback you can give me (because neither is really actionable or especially effective): a. lower the price and b. make our product just like our competitors.