Intel put this very interesting graphic of what happens during an Internet minute. Wow, LOT going on!
(Click to view full size.)
Intel put this very interesting graphic of what happens during an Internet minute. Wow, LOT going on!
(Click to view full size.)
As I wrote about in my previous post, I recently keynoted the Independent Distributors Association annual convention in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
If you've ever hired a speaker for an event, you know it's a risky proposition. You can watch a speaker's demo video and talk with some referrals, but until that speaker actually delivers an awesome presentation, you never know what's going to happen. I've personally seen other speakers who didn't live up to the promise, and I've seen speakers who were difficult-to-please prima donnas. Both are the bane of a meeting planner's life.
I remember one time I was hired to present a breakout session for a major trade association in San Diego. As always, I arrived early to my session room to make sure everything was set up and AV was working. As is often the case, I rearranged the chairs and moved the screen for a better audience experience.
A few minutes before start time, the meeting planner walked into the room to make sure everything was ready. I assured her the room, AV, and I were all set and she didn't need to spend any more of her valuable time with me. I knew she had plenty of other tasks and small fires.
She responded, "I am staying to introduce you. I have something important say."
Obviously, this was totally fine, but I was curious by what she meant when she said, "I have something important to say."
At start time, she stepped to the front. "I'd like to introduce your presenter for this morning, Steve Miller. Before I give you his bio, I want to tell you I've already decided Steve will be back next year. Across the hall is a speaker who will never come back. That speaker has been nothing but difficult from the day I hired him and I have to go across and babysit him some more. Steve, however, is the easiest speaker I've ever worked with. I haven't had to worry one minute about him, and because of that, he will be back." She finished my intro and left.
Frankly, at that time I had no idea being easy was a big deal. I thought every speaker did what I did, assuming it was the ante to be in the game. And, even though nobody would ever accusee me of being the brightest bulb in the pack, I learned. Ever since, I've continued to work hard to be easy.
I learned another similar lesson this week from my IDA client. As I always do after speaking or consulting, I send a thank you card and a small gift. I often take pictures at the meeting and try to get one with me and my client together. I then custom design a thank you card through my Send Out Cards account, including a small gift available through their system. Usually I send brownies. They're very tasty!
Shortly after sending the card and brownies, I received the following email:
My goodness! I just got your lovely surprise. A first in 30 years of planning meetings.
Still the feedback keeps coming and you did "make me look good". Terry M. did not exaggerate when he recommended you highly!
If you would ever want to use me for a reference. I would be more than happy to do so.
What? A first thank you? I asked about that and she said, no, she'd received many thank you notes, but never a gift - in 30 years!
I find that amazing. Just like when I learned how unusual it is to be easy to work with, I assumed this was common practice. I didn't send anything extravagant or expensive. I send four brownies, yet look at the impression it made.
Many years ago, Brian Tracy shared something in conversation I've always taken to heart. He told me that almost every successful company and person had one thing in common. They are Brilliant at the Basics. Even Vince Lombardi saw its importance when he said:
Some people try to find things in this game that don't exist but football is only two things - blocking and tackling.
Being easy to work with? Saying thank you with a small gift? These aren't advanced tactics. Apparently, though, they're also not common practice.
Even though Seattle is only a 90-minute flight from Calgary, I'd never been to Banff. I'd heard a lot about how beautiful the area was and always wanted to go there, but hadn't.
The location and vistas didn't disappoint. They were spectacular. But one thing didn't live up to expectations. The Fairmont.
According to the hotel's website: "The majestic “Castle in the Rockies,” located in the heart of Alberta in Canada's Banff National Park - a UNESCO World Heritage Site has been providing legendary hospitality and unsurpassed dining experiences to guests of our luxury hotel for 125 years."
Well, no, there was nothing legendary about the hospitality. Arriving on Tuesday afternoon, I unloaded my suitcase, briefcase, and golf clubs from the van. None of the hotel bellmen came to see if I needed help. I proceeded up a small incline to the front door, pulling my stuff in front of at least four different bellmen. Nobody said a word or even glanced my way.
Over the course of the next three days I walked out the front door and by the bellmen at least eight times. Not once did any of the Fairmont staff out front acknowledge my existence.
The rest of my time at the Fairmont I interacted with several other staffers. They were all pleasant enough and attentive to my needs. But my entire experience was tainted by the bellmen. My first impression of the Fairmont was of the bellmen and throughout my stay they did nothing to change that impression. In fact, their indifference only enhanced my perception.
I often say it's never the lions and tigers that get you in the jungle. It's the mosquitos. When was the last time you tested your company's first impression (and ongoing, if necessary)? When a customer or prospect contacts you or stops by your business, what is their first impression?
Would I recommend Banff? Absolutely. It's spectacular!
Would I recommend the Fairmont? Probably not. I think I can find another place to stay in town next time.
Next month I'm speaking in Banff, AB for the International Distributors Association. They are a world wide non-profit association of independent businesses that supply quality parts, service and equipment to the heavy construction industry.
In preparation for any presentation, I always ask to speak with a number of stakeholders to learn about their businesses, the industry, and their challenges. Obviously, I'm not going to become an expert in their field, but it helps a lot for me to get inside their heads and see the world through their eyes. (Since I titled my blog, Two Hat Marketing, I'd better walk the talk!)
One thing that often happens is when an interviewee locks into a topic they want covered, but I'm not an expert at. For example, in this week's conversations, two people want me to share the economic situation in their industry around the world. Have you ever read anything from me about world economy? Another gentleman shared how great it would be to talk about succession planning.
Clearly, neither of these topics is something I should cover. Sure, there are examples of speakers desperate for the check who think they can just do a little more research on a topic and, voila, they're an expert. Early in my speaking career Brian Tracy gave me some great advice. "For every word you speak on stage, know 1000, Steve." In other words, talk your walk. Don't fake it by giving a book report.
Certainly, understanding these issues is important for me. It helps me empathize with what's going on in my audiences' heads and maybe influence some of what I will talk about -- marketing and innovation.
I bring this all up because too often too many small businesses will take on jobs, or make promises to prospects they simply don't know anything about or, worse, they KNOW they can't do.
The truth is people appreciate the truth. They appreciate when a supplier or potential supplier is 100% honest in their promises. Because, for the most part, everything is being commoditized today, the big things that separate us from the competition can often be found in the intangibles. I wrote about this is my free ebook, 11 Old Rules of Business That Still Matter.
Admit it. You aren't good at everything. Don't promise something you can't deliver. Tell the truth, even when it's bad news. And if it's bad news, tell it sooner than later.
Your customers and prospects will appreciate that.
P.S. If you haven't read my free ebook, you can get it right now by clicking here.
It's only natural for prospects to comparison shop. We all do it, whether for ourselves personally as well as at work.
So, of course, as marketers and salespeople, we should acknowledge and address that in our communications. Why are we better than the competition and any other alternative?
But, folks, do it with class. Don't put your competition down. Don't slam their products. Just show why your's are superior. Not only is it the right thing to do, but inappropriate criticism is uncalled for.
Microsoft learned that lesson this week after posting a harsh anti-iPhone ad on YouTube. The ad has since been taken down, because of the negative backlash. Microsoft has since issued a statement saying, "The video was intended to be a light-hearted poke at our friends from Cupertino. But it was off the mark, and we've decided to pull it down." The internet being the internet, though, copies of the parody clip are still floating around. Guess what? I have one.
Obviously, Microsoft can weather the storm on this. If it were produced by a small business marketer, they may not have been so lucky.
Watch the video and share your thoughts.
For a lot of people, the following video is cringeworthy. It crosses the line. This video advertisement covers a topic considered taboo in many homes...the outloud discussion of a girl's first period.
There, I said it. Did just mentioning that word make you uncomfortable? Then you may not want to watch.
But, as of this post, 5,986,539 other people have watched it. The Huffington Post writes, "...(this) Ad Gets It Oh-So Right, Makes Us Proud To Be Women." BuzzFeed declares, "Hello Flo just won Ad of the Year." And Arwa Mahdawl writes in The Guardian, "The rapturous reaction received by Camp Gyno is a clear indication that women are increasingly rejecting the risible conventions of sanitary-product advertising."
There's a lot of chatter on the Internet about this video...many supporting this approach and some questioning both the tactic and the need. I think that's a good thing from a pure marketing perspective. The owner, Naama Bloom, has successfully created controversy, conversation, and, more important, sales. In an interview with the Israeli newsource, Haaretz, Bloom talked about how she discovered this acknowledged need. "I spoke to other parents and I realized that there is a space here, an unacknowledged space. It’s not that girls don’t talk to their moms and dads about this — it’s that they don’t go in depth."
Bloom displays understanding of two very important marketing tenets: find a clearly defined target market (1) that acknowledges a need for your product or service (2). If you fit her niche, you get it. If you don't fit, you probably don't. And that's okay.
Last week I shared the plight of my country club and asked for your comments. Boy, did you comment! This week, I'm sharing a controversial video ad that's getting a lot of attention. I'd love to hear again what you think. Is this good marketing? Bad Marketing? Is it in bad taste? What do you think?
Are you ready to watch it now?
I've written about my old country club before.
For a number of years now, the leadership has managed to make one mistake after another running and marketing the club. Despite offers of help by many people who actually have experience in sales and marketing, the board of directors continues to believe they know what they're doing. (Full disclosure: we are no longer members.)
Now, to their credit, the club is still open, and the golf course is in pretty good shape. However, it's no longer a private golf course. In order to keep the doors open, they have opened play to the public. They sincerely believe they will eventually turn things around and go back to being private, but I don't see it.
One of their great ideas for generating cash is to hold a fund-raising auction next month. Think about that...a "fund-raiser" for a business. They're appealing to the local community to support the auction because the club is "...not just an asset to our Twin Lakes neighborhood, but to our entire community of Federal Way and surrounding cities. This Auction should be a fun night out with a great dinner, games, raffles, silent auction as well as an interactive LIVE auction serving 2 purposes: 1) to have a great time out and, 2) make some money for the club. Bottom line: The auction is in support of the club, which in turn is a support to our community."
I asked a neighbor what he thought of the auction and he said, "Why should I give money to people who can afford to be members of a club?"
In addition to this head-scratching idea, take a look at the home page for the club. Click the screenshot below to expand the image and read the copy. I would be very interested in getting your opinion on this. After reading their "marketing" copy, do me a favor and Comment below to these questions:
I'm, obviously, too close to this situation and may be way off base. I am keenly interested in reading your comments!
I recently blogged about an amazing marketing promotion Kontor Records did to promote one of their artists. It was a killer idea. I've got another one for you.
Fevicol, a brand of adhesives owned by the Indian company Pidilite, wanted to show how powerful their glue was. With the help of Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai, they set up a temporary store in a mall where everything was free...if you could take it.
Being an entrepreneur can be equally rewarding and frustrating. Owning your own business, no matter how small, can provide a giant measure of enjoyment and personal satisfaction. I can personally attest to that.
There is much that can be frustrating, though. One is the simple fact you can't do everything you want to do.
Take marketing, for example. Marketing is one of the two basic functions of business--innovation being the other. I didn't say that. Peter Drucker did.
For small business the conundrum is which marketing tools should you use? We simply don't have time to utilize very many, and with hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of marketing tools available, how do you determine which ones are best for you? Email is the overused default tool of choice right now, which makes no sense. Social media--with the exception of YouTube and maybe LinkedIn--has yet to prove ROI for most B2B marketers. And our quiver oveflows with the myriad of other tools available.
So the questions begs itself, what should a small B2B do? how do you figure out which tools to use?
In both my own experience as well as working with dozens of small businesses, I've come to the conclusion there are six marketing tools that pretty much every B2B business should use and use well. This doesn't mean you can't embrace any other tools, but IMNSHO, you're making a big mistake not aggressively incorporating these in your marketing strategy.
1. Direct mail
You can be more creative with direct mail. You can be more personal. It's easier to stand out from the crowd since so many "smart" companies have abandoned mail to go 100% online. You can easily measure results with direct mail. You can send personal letters, postcards (of all sizes), greeting cards, different shapes and sizes. Direct mail may be more expensive than clicking a button, but when used effectively it's potential return is much higher.
Like direct mail, the power of video cannot be underestimated. It communicates your message far better than print or audio. You can use video for new product demos, sales messages, interviews, testimonials, personal messages, etc.
Video doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. Today's smartphones are more than capable of producing high enough quality visuals. (It's always a good idea to use an external microphone, though.)
YouTube is, obviously, the best place to upload and store videos. Videos can be easily tagged for searches. You can set each video to be available to the public, unlisted, or password protected. And now YouTube allows you to embed an annotation right in a video that when clicked takes the viewer to an outside webpage. An example of a great business video is Wasp Asset Tracking.
These are an awesome way to stay connected to your prospects and customers. Regularly scheduled live webinars or webcasts (they're basically the same thing) can provide timely information, engage your audience, and create a personal bond with the market.
4. Landing/squeeze pages
Right now many of you are thinking, "Say what?" What's a landing page?
Everybody has a website, right? And most companies put this regular corporate URL on all their marketing materials. But this is actually a mistake. You should set up a unique landing page for every different marketing message. For example, Royal Master Grinders wanted to showcase what they were exhibiting at IMTS 2012. They bought the domain www.Booth6646.com and designed a site and landing page specifically for that.
You might be a great marketer and communicate like crazy with your marketplace, but you can't just be better than the competition. You have to be seen as DIFFERENT. What promise can you make to people that clearly and definitively shows you are UNCOPYABLY SUPERIOR to the competition?
Branding is far more than a logo. It's what embeds your name in the minds of your prospects and customers. It's what makes them remember you and think about you when the need arises. It's also what makes them talk about you, which leads me to...
Let's admit it. We wish ALL our prospects came to us as referrals, right? A referral is practically pre-sold for us and most of the time the sales cycle is far shorter.
But despite how we love referrals, most of us do a crappy job of helping our customers refer us. Most companies don't have a formalized referral marketing strategy in place. How much sense does this make? And those who follow many "gurus" advice may actually be hurting potential referrals. I wrote about this my last blog post.
7. Memorable business cards
I'm sure this is also raising a few eyebrows. Business cards? Why is this on the list?
Pretty simple. 99% of all business cards look alike. We hand someone our card...they give it a cursory glance...and shove it in their pocket without a second thought.
A great business card can truly separate you from the crowd. Your card can and should be indisputedly representative of you and your brand. People should look at your card and say something like, "This is cool!" They should talk about it with their peers. A great business card makes you memorable and unique. That's exactly what you want.
I spent a lot of time figuring out what my own card should look like. I apologize for sounding egotistical, but I'm pretty proud of my card. When someone asks for my card I hand it to them with the back facing them first. After reading that, they then turn it over. I ALWAYS get a reaction (most of time laughter):
As I said, these 7 tools should be the basic minimum tools you use to market your business. By themselves, these may be all your ever really need. Of course, if you have the time to master each of these and feel the ned to do more, by all means do so. But these 7 are killer tools. You may not agree with me and I invite your comments below. Tell me what you think about my list and feel free to share other tools you are currently using.
Referrals are huge. They should be an integral part of any small business marketing strategy (and big business, for that matter). Unfortunately, most small business marketers don't have a formal referral strategy, and those who do might be doing more harm than good.
Why? Because there is one big piece of traditional advice practically EVERY referral marketing expert recommends that might be just plain wrong.
Referral marketing gurus have touted for years the importance of paying customers to bring in new customers, but I've never agreed with that practice. If I really like a product or service, I am happy and eager to share that with my peers. I might do it because I've got a good "relationship" with the company who provided the product or service and I'm glad to help. I might refer friends and peers to particular product because they're my friends and I want to share. Or I might refer a great new service to my network because I get a little ego boost from bringing this cool new thing to their attention.
All three of these reasons are because of how I personally feel, not because I'm being incentivized. In fact, when a supplier offers me a reward for a referral, I usually feel just the opposite. Paying me changes my relationship with that supplier and changes my attitude about referring them.
Aral is an assistant professor and a Microsoft Faculty Fellow at NYU's Stern School of Business. In his article, he shared results of research he's conducted to determine the power and limits of "influencers." I've often espoused my difference of opinion with Malcolm Gladwell's assertion in The Tipping Point that it's possible for companies to make their products go viral if they can only get their product to a select group of connected, vocal influencers. That's just plain poppycock. If "going viral" were that simple, then every product in the world would be viral right now.
In one of Aral's studies they specifically looked at how incentives work in this type of situation:
We experimented with three types of incentives to promote a web-based flower delivery service. We offered users in one group $10 to invite friends to use the service—a program we called a “selfish incentive.” We offered those in the second group the chance to give a friend a $10 discount for signing on—a “generous incentive” (the recommender received no reward). We offered the third group a “fair incentive,” in which the recommender received $5 and the friend received a $5 discount. The results surprised us: The generous and fair incentives generated more sends than the selfish incentive did. It turns out that people don’t like spamming their friends unless they can pass a benefit along. These results conform to the sociological notion of a “gift economy,” in which generosity confers status.
I like the idea of passing an incentive along. I would be much more likely to prefer the "generous incentive," as I would feel better that my friend received both my recommendation AND the reward for checking it out.
If you have developed a formalized referral marketing strategy yet, what are you waiting for? And if you're currently offering the traditional incentive reward, you might consider testing the "generous" or "fair" system described above. I think the results will speak for themselves.