M is for Marketing. M is for Moses.

“The Boomer Boom” by Christopher Musico (CRM Magazine, November 2008) comes this handy sidebar that somehow missed getting posted. The article is on “boomers” but the concepts of these ten are sound for all and deserved to be repeated and relayed – even if it is six months later.

10 Marketer Commandments
When it comes to Boomers today, Matt Thornhill, co-author of Boomer Consumer, says there are 10 rules marketers must adhere to if they want to strike gold. “We haven’t found ourselves needing to change or modify any of these rules,” he says. “They’re not time-sensitive.”

1 – Treat everyone differently.
2 – Use emotionally meaningful concepts, words, and images.
3 – Be positive.
4 – Realize more information is better.
5 – Tell a story.
6 – Understand my changing values.
7 – Make it relevant to me.
8 – Play in the gray.
9 – Use life stage, not age.
10 – Learn, baby, learn.

Hopefully you too are sensing these these rules have valuebeyond just marketing.

Can you tweet me now?

“Social Butterflies Can Raise Money” by Michele Donohue (The NonProfit Times, 1 April 2009).  It’s difficult to go a day without someone asking, “What about Twitter?” or “How can I use Facebook?”. True success stories do seem to be somewhat limited at this point in time. However, all hype aside, when an 800 pound guerrilla – make that two 800 pound guerrillas – walks into your room and beats their chests it’s probably wise  to sit up and listen.

Most Twitter articles tend to focus on how you could / should use Twitter. Yet more often that not the blank stare is followed by, “But what do I have to say that that’s important?” While not mentioned directly, this article highlights another strategy for using this tool… Get others to Twitter about your company, event, etc. to their network. It’s possible you might be asking the wrong question. It’s not a matter of what you have to say, but how can you get others to say (good) things about you. Let them define the what, while you focus on supplying whats to Twitter about. It might not be necessary to build your own network as much as try to capitalize on ones that are already there and are sympathetic to your cause / brand.

While we’re on the subject of non-profits, this issue of NPT also had: “Spending more in a down economy” by Tom Pope, as well as “Destroying The Integrity Of Nonprofits” by Richard A. Viguerie. Unfortunately, Mr. Viguerie’s cutting-against-the-grain insights are not yet available online.

When looking for “work”, get words to work for you

“Six Ways To Ruin Your Resume” by Greg Schaffer (Computer World, 13 April 2009).

You may have already realized the AU state of mind often takes things from one box and furthers the use of those ideas by applying them to a situation in another box. In this instance, please shoehorn this article into the other box of copy writing – specifically copy writing for web sites. One of the highlights was actually a handful of words in the sidebar. Please reword to fit your particular situation.

Speak to your audience

Your résumé should be directed to a technology professional.

Yes, human resources may review the application as well, but ultimately the position’s supervisor (and most probably peers) will choose whom to interview. Your résumé should talk to them.

Remember that your goal is to get your foot in the door for a face-to-face interview. If you’re applying to be a network administrator, have a fellow network administrator or two review your application, and ask for their impressions from a peer perspective. Does it convey that you know networking? If the answer is yes, you’re well on your way to landing that job.

In short, job hunting is like sales, and sales is like job hunting. Aside from good copy both also require focus, persistence and most of all an understanding of the audience being targeted. Whether you’re selling a product, a service or yourself to a prospective employer, the tactict and strategy for success are essentially universal.

In support of the AU “sweet spot”

“Brand Aid: Technology’s the Great Equalizer” exerts from an interview with Allen Adamson, author of “Brand Digital” (Consulting Magazine, March / April 2009).

Full disclosure: We haven’t read Mr. Adamson’s book yet. However, if this interview is any indictation, we will be soon enough. Yes, yet another objective third party example supporting the importance of an AU state of mind.

Without guests there is no retail

“Wholesale Changes” by Eric Krell (Consulting Magazine, March / April 2009).  A fairly insightful article that was good enough to trigger this letter to the editor:

Consulting Mag:

The ill condition of retail is well known. However, there is a factor that was not directly mentioned (in the article) and we believe is essential to understanding and solving the problem. Typically it’s
called the customer experience. Although we prefer the higher ground of The Guest Experience. Even prior to the economic correction many of retail’s industry leaders and
results producers provided an experience that was average at best and continually failed to meet guest expectation.

For example, my local supermarket has more video monitors than my local sporting goods retailer. In addition, when online a person interested in a product or service can get detailed information, read reviews, watch video, compare prices, ask questions, shop 24/7, etc. Walk into a retailer today and once you get past the obligatory greeter you’re not likely to get much help – let alone an experience that inspires loyalty and guides purchases. Finally, merchandising is so me-too and cookie cutter that the yawns are increasing louder than the ca-chings.

Like it or not online is raising the bar for all purchase expectations. Much like print (magazines and newspapers), retail is in denial and is losing – and has probably already lost – the next generation of customers. The fact is retail (with its accountant driven formulas) only has itself to blame.

Hoist a new flag

Mark Simchock
Chief Alchemist
Alchemy United
Princeton NJ

The 6 Universal Truths of a Successful Project

“IT projects fail most often due to organizational issues” by Toni Bowers (22 April 2009, Career Management column, TechRepublic.com)

Maybe this is stating the obvious but…

1) Properly defined goal(s) and an agreement of what defines success
2) Commitment / buy-in from all to #1
3) Ongoing communication
4) Setting and managing expectations
5) Accountability and responsibility
6) Wisdom and agility to adjust course as necessary

Unfortunately, too many projects begin (and try to carry on) that lack an awareness of these elements, let alone an agreement.

Why a bigger we matters

“Think ‘We’ for Best Results” by Adam Bryant (New York Times, 18 April 2009) is an interview with Ms. Nell Minow. The topic is management and here are some of the highlights:

“…if you can get everyone to agree what the goal is, and to identify themselves with the successful achievement of that goal, then you’re pretty much there.”

“…generally that the more expansive the assumptions were within somebody’s idea of who is “we” — the larger the group that you had included in that “we” — the better off everybody was. I started to really do my best to make sure that my notion of “we” was very expansive and to promote that idea among other people.”

“I really look for a kind of a passionate curiosity. I think that is indispensable, no matter what the job is. You want somebody who is just alert and very awake and engaged with the world and wanting to know more.”

“I also delegate as much as I can and I jettison as much as I can. I try to ask myself, do I need to do this? Is this something that is really going to help?”

So much to read so little time

“Digital Darwinism” by Christopher Vollmer (Strategy + Business, Spring 2009)

“Measuring Your Way to Market Insight” by Leslie H. Moeller and Edward C. Landry (Strategy + Business, Spring 2009)

Pour yourself another cup of coffee because Booz & Company’s S + B is supplying plenty of sweet reading. While worth every word “Digital Darwinism” is rather lengthy so let us get out of your way so you can get down to business. Literally.

Learning lessons from a master

The House The Ogilvy Built by Kenneth Roman (Strategy + Business, Spring 2009)

Great article! Not only was the advertising icon David Ogilvy a brilliant ad man, but his ideas on management were just as far reaching. Don’t miss this one.

Time for a tune-up

“New Leader Overhauls Ford Foundation” by Stephanie Strom (New York Times, 13 April 2009).  The Ford Foundation is $11 billion strong and actually the second-largest foundation in the country after the Gates Foundation. On one hand this is pseudo feel-good story. On the other it’s another lesson in the need for ongoing analysis, evolution, and marketing. Stand still and the guy / gal / company / foundation behind you will run you down. Ford would know.

Stop whining and start wining

“Wine Online” by Daria Meoli (New York Enterprise Report Magazine, April 2009, NYReport.com)

There is one word for the story of NJ liquor store owner Gary Vaynerchuk and his $50m per year (and growing) Wine Library… OMG.

Conclusion: It’s not who you know. It’s not how many people you know. It’s not even what you know. It’s how many people want to know what you know. And figuring out how to make that happen for them. In other words, this isn’t about selling wine. That’s just the bonus round.

This artcle also contains the understatement of the year (so far). In the last line Vaynerchuk say, “I feel that America is ready for wine and I could be one of the next breeakout hits.” At $50m this guy is just getting started. How about that?

$1,000 and a dream

“5 Minutes With… Barbara Corcoran” as well as “5 More Minutes With. . . Barbara Corcoran” by Daria Meoli (The New York Enterprise Report, April 2009, NYReport.com).

A two part interview – because we can all use a little more inspriation. The bit about her experiment with  “Hot Homes On Tape” is a particularly interesting failure (that eventually turned out to be the “mistake” of a lifetime).

If the CIO fits then wear it

“How to Successfully Market IT” By Susan Cramm and “How CIOs Can Best Influence Stakeholders” from the CIO Executive Council (CIO Mag, 1 April 2009, CIO.com)

Now before anyone jumps to conclusions such as, “Why should I read all this CIO stuff? I’m not a CIO.” Well, either are we – but that doesn’t mean we can’t all gain something by thinking like one. IT divisions are  often (ideally) set up to run like independent companies and in adding value and serving customers, etc. there are themes (read: best practices) that exist beyond type of industry, size of company, etc. When you read these two quickies just replace CIO with business owner and IT with the name of your company.  The odds are good that you’ll be happy to be thinking like a CIO.

What came first, the speaker or the audience

“Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking” by Editor In Chief Maryfran Johnson (CIO Magazine, 1 April 2009, CIO.com) does a handy job at helping raise your public speaking game. She’s even goes bold and gets it right when she says, “It’s not about you.”

However, we’d actually like to take that a step further and rewrite her “most important question” (mentioned in the next to the last paragraph) to “What is this particular audience going to hear when I tell the story I want to tell?” A truly effective communicator understands context and that as Frank “Words That Work” Luntz says, “It’s not what you say, but what people hear.” In other words, the story you want to tell is meaningless, it’s the story they’re going to hear that really matters.

And while we’re on this subject here’s another from CIO,  “How to Master Professional Speaking” by John Baldoni.

To be the best, study the best

“Broker of the Year Finalists” by Denis Storey (Benefits Selling Magazine, 1 April 2009). The best of the best, sir. AU would like to recommend focusing on the thoughts of:

– Ted Bosse
– Steve Fallon
– Lisa Martin

Nothing new. No rocket science. Just simple fundamentals and the willingness to execute.  The irony is, such a proven approach tends to be the exception rather than the rule.

Let there be growth, and there was growth

“Thriving in the Downturn” Edited by Brett Nelson (Forbes Magazine, 13 April 13 2009) is actually a collection of six articles on six small business that are still going strong.  The common themes: they all seem to love what they do; they have niche and they’re well known (via word of mouth) within that niche; and most importantly their focus is on quality not quantity.

Which raises the question, if the majority of the country is employeed by small and mis-sized companies why is all the bailout money going to the big dogs who actually carry less of the load?

Four of a kind

Here’s a series of highlights from the Spring 2009 issue of 1 to 1 Magazine (1to1media.com). Unfortunately, this site requires opening account to read some of the content. Since these article are all pretty brief they’ll be copy / pasted in below to save you the trouble.

“Winning Over Difficult Customers” by Kevin Zimmerman

Got angry customers? Good service recovery can turn them into evangelists

It’s been noted that, in some cases, companies that right perceived wrongs for customers can turn them into über-loyal consumers, to the point where they’re more likely to become company evangelists than regular customers who’ve never had a complaint.

Bruce Temkin, vice president and principal analyst of customer experience at Forrester Research, says, “I do believe that good service recovery drives loyalty. When customers run into a problem, their long-term opinion of the company is very vulnerable, so a well-timed and appropriate recovery makes sense for building loyalty.”

Such strategies are in play at companies like Southwest Airlines, Home Depot, and supermarket chain Publix, which regularly appear high on BusinessWeek’s annual “Customer Service Elite” list.
“Those are companies that are looking at the promises they’ve made in the marketplace and are making sure the experience at every touchpoint exceeds expectations,” says Liz Miller, vice president, programs and operations, at The CMO Council. “Southwest backs up its brand message by featuring low prices and making sure it’s very easy to book or change a flight. Home Depot’s ‘You Can Do It, We Can Help’ is built so that, no matter what level the customer is at…they help you find the supplies, offer information on their website, or even take on the job themselves.”

These companies, Temkin explains, often design approaches for dealing with negative circumstances. “They don’t just recover from the problems; they work hard to eliminate similar problems from happening in the future,” he says.

Maria Brous, director of media and community relations at Publix, cites the chain’s purchase guarantee, wherein customers can return an unsatisfactory product for a full refund, as a key component of its customer engagement strategy. “Our guarantee extends to products we don’t carry,” she says. “We will shop at a competitor for our customers and bring that product to the customer to prevent her having to go around to several different stores.”

In other words, by better understanding each customer’s experiences and expectations, a company stands a greater chance of retaining customers when its service or product fails to deliver on their expectations.

Weathering the Storm by Don Peppers

Even in the worst possible downturn, there will still be some customers who are buying, some who remain profitable and loyal. So one very useful aspect of customer strategy in a recession is customer data and analytics—simply having enough insight to tell one customer from another.

However, there are many elements of customer service that can be delivered at very little cost, even when times are tight. Smiles and courtesy cost nothing. Send a hand-written thank-you note to a good customer. Call a customer to ask if everything was delivered properly, or if there’s anything you should do differently next time. As a bonus, these kinds of actions are likely to improve employee morale in a difficult situation.

And remember: Business is a competitive sport. It might be snowing on the ball field, but that doesn’t mean there won’t still be a winner. It just requires perseverance and a different set of skills to play through a blizzard.

The Nature of Nurturing by Jon Miller

Lead nurturing is a key element to successful lead generation strategies. But what makes a good lead nurturing program? Jon Miller, vice president of marketing at Marketo, highlights three points to consider when developing a lead nurturing plan.

Every interaction needs to be valuable to the lead, not just valuable to the company. Any interaction with a lead must contain relevant, useful information that helps potential customers become smarter. Leave the promotions and sales fluff out.

Keep interactions bite-size. Miller recommends a “YouTube” approach: easily digestible chunks of information. A webinar, for example, may not be a good lead nurturing activity because prospects might not attend one regularly. But a white paper or newsletter allows prospects to learn through short yet frequent interactions.

Know your leads. Classic lead nurturing is composed of drip-marketing campaigns. The most successful nurturing programs look at a lead’s past behavior and then adjust future interactions on an individual level.

Three Keys to Customer Centricity based on an interview with Herb Baer

Complete honesty: The retail business changes constantly, so trust is crucial. “Your customer trusts you so much more if you tell it exactly like it is,” says Bear.

Frequent and direct communications – Baer consistently engages numerous individuals within a customer organization, including the buyer, the buyer’s boss, the marketing person, and then accounts payable manager among others.

Caring about the customer’s customer – “We’re going to sell something differently to Home Depot than we sell to Walgreens,” he says. “We might sell hand sanitizer to both but it will be in different forms – different bottle sizes and maybe different labels – and marketed differently.”

Commit this story to your vision

“Wings Like Eagles” by Rich Karlgaard (Forbes, 13 April 2009. Forbes.com). Note: You’ll have to scroll down a bit to get to this part of Mr. Karlgaard’s “Digital Rules” column.  While mentioning / reviewing a new book on the battle of Britain (“With Wings Like Eagles” by Michael Korda, Harper, $25.99) Rich says:

The British managed to turn back the Luftwaffe’s superior might with intelligence and strategy, based on a new invention called radar and a deception brilliantly executed by Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding. He tricked the Nazis into underestimating the number of British fighter planes and thus drew the Luftwaffe’s bombers into a deadly war of attrition.

True, the business as war analogy is cliche. But in those 50 or so word are: intelligence, strategy, innovation, technology, execution, leadership and the defeat of a what was assumed to be a superior foe. One would have to presume there was some passion in the mix too.  If that’s not worth commiting to memory, what is?

I geek therefore I am?

“25 highly anticipated open-source releases coming this year” by Esther Schindler (Computer World Magazine, 4 April 2009). This post might be far too geeky for some of you, but for those who might want to get a broad understanding of what’s on the open-source horizon, then read on.

It’s not what you say, it’s what they see

“Watch Your Body Language” by Anita Raghavan (Forbes Magazine, 16 March 16 2009). There’s little doubt we’re all looking for tools that will give us an advantage when we’re on the business pitch. Your body language might just be the key to that next essential negotiation. It’s difficult to agree with Luntz’s, “it’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.” Xince there are also non-verbal communications in any face to face encounter it naturally makes sense to:

1) Be aware of what your body language might be saying to the receiver

2) Try to “listen” to what the senders body language might be saying that’s not in concert with their words

In the end, it’s transparency and authenticity that rule the day. If your “brand” is out of sync with your message – verbal, visual or action – then people are going to pick up on that.