Why? Why do they do that???

I sat across from the VP of Marketing for a large regional organization last week, in his office. With a smile on his face he said, “I told my boss last week that we are just pissing away money…[James], we’ll spend a couple hundred [grand] on anything just to see if works.”

Am I the only baffled one here. Two questions – why would anyone smile while admitting he wastes money and why would anyone spend that much to see if it worked.

Here is why? This guy like most marketers spends (or pisses away) his money in what I call the competitive zone. The competitive zone is when a buyer is activly searching for a solution to his or her problem and it out and about talking to solution providers. The buyer is online filling out forms, walking into stores, calling on sales people etc. It it is the easiest place to find buyers – and the most competitive as well – for the obvious reason.

Great marketers exist here out of necessity – but spend little time or money. They spend the time in the opportunity zones. The opportunity zones are not crowded at all – but take a little work.

Opportunity Zone 1: Those thinking about buying. The question to ask here is, where are they now? What are the situations that lead them to think about buying? Which of their  friends have already been through this buying cycle. There are a few others you can ask, but I think you get the point.

If you can be the expert before the scream for a solution, but are merely considering it, and prove it before the active searching begins, they may never enter the competitive zone and head straight to your door.

Opportunity Zone #2: This actually occurs after the sale. Why do people buy again? Why do  they refer their friends? How do we make the answers to those questions a no-brainer to take action on.

Some advice to marketers and business owners. If you test your spare $200K on those two zones -competitor free – your VP will stop wasting the rest and you will see (with this kind of budget) millions added to the bottom line. That is some share holder news for you.

If you are a smaller business with little or no marketing budget – this should be your sweet spot.

Posted in Marketing and Advertising | Tagged , ,

Who defines creativity?

I recently read a Forbes article titled, How To Think Like Steve Jobs, by Carmine Gallo. The point of the article is that creativity is not unique to any one person, and that everyone can do what Steve Jobs does. Carmines only point is that the creativity is simply connecting things? I agree with him that creativity is connecting things (very simple def)- but I don’t agree that all people can be creative (at least not to the same level).

Here is what we do know about creativity. Thanks to great researchers and brain experts like Dr. Daniel Amen (see Youtube video at the end of this blog of him on Larry King Live with other experts) we know that creativity is a core function of the brain. Like many functions of the brain, creativity can be restored, strengthened, and even created itself. But it is not easy and it takes conscious effort.

Here are three things that you can do to spark creativity:

  1. Challenge your both sides of your brain intellectually. It is proven that creative people use hard facts (right brain) to develop new ideas (left brain). Creativity is function of your whole brain. If you cannot easily move back and forth, practice it.
  2. Challenge both sides of your brain physically. This goes back to point #1. One way to practice is participate in physical exercises that where you are crossing the center line with purpose. An example of this is throwing a ball, alternating hands that you use to throw. I also suggest you take up a Yoga class.
  3. Eat well, Sleep well. No your mother didn’t tell me to say this. My mother did (haha.) All kidding aside, with what we know about power foods, processed foods, and everything in between – no person should ever feel scammed. It is easy to find out what is best for you. Remember – rich in protein. Meats like Tuna, Salmon, Shrimp, and other fish are high in protein, contain other acids and oils that are healthy. Broccoli is an energy multiplier. Blueberries are a natural detox. All this from a guy who is not a nutrionist. You have no excuse for not knowing how to feed your brain. Sleep – well, here is a question, have you ever performed well at anything sleep deprived? Ever had a surprise project at work when you are exhausted. Lets not let that happen again shall we?

In summary – these are great ways to spark creativity. I believe that all people are capable of it, hardly any will do anything to get it. If you are the one who will – the competitive edge is yours.

Posted in employee engagement, Leadership, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

What’s so wrong with the basics?

Last week a friend and I were discussing how technical and segmented marketing has become over the last decade. Organizations these days are required to have SEO experts, bloggers, blog responders, social media guru’s, app developers, killer email specialists…the list goes on and on. What is even more amazing is that these specialities are relatively new. Many of these specialities require either techical programming backgrounds and some of them even require english majors – but none of them require a marketing background.

In the hustle to advance marketing – the new skill sets are forging forward without fundamental skills in marketing. When I say fundamental I mean more basic the the 5, 6, or 83 P’s.

If you are a marketer or person responsible for delivering new leads and business here are a few questions to keep you grounded in the fundamentals.

  1. Where are my customers? This question helps you determine what social media, what SEO keywords, what blogs to participate on, what traditional adverstising media to use etc.
  2. Where do they go when they get serious about buying? This question allows you to adequately determine what sales tools to use, how to incentivise referrals, and what to expect in the sales process.
  3. What do my customers need to hear, feel, and know to make a good buying decision. These questions help you determine the what and how for the previous questions.
  4. Why do they stay? Most people end at the sale. But good marketing also focuses on current clients. This questions helps you determine how to make and keep loyal customers.
Posted in Campaigns and Promotions, Customer Retention, Marketing and Advertising, Sales, Social Media | Tagged , , , , ,

The Networking Meeting

I recently attended a Chamber of Commerce networking event. The was nothing amazingly different about this networking group than the tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands across the globe. But not having attended something like this in over 6 years I was awestruck by the diversity of quality of the 30-second elevator pitches. A little disclaimer – mine was significantly short of being anything good. My excuse is that I went last minute and had less than an hour to prepare (even though I knew about it for over a week).

Some elevator pitches as they are called were simple and to the point, “My name is Joe Schmoe and I sell homes. What distinguishes me apart from my competitors is that I am nice and pay attention to detail.”

Nothing to fantastic, memorable, or believable there.

On the other hand others also in industies with little differentian between competitors had some very creative and memorable spills, all at the end of the 30-seconds. One lady who represented a hotel sang for the last 10 seconds. Talk about guts and enthusiasm. While I never would recommend it, I loved it and it worked.

Then there was the home remodeler whose tag line at the end was, “From floor to ceiling, we do the healing.” Very catching, creative and the retention on that is high.

Walking away from this I had two take-aways. A good impression can happen in 5 -10 seconds, not 30.. and if you get 30 – why are you wasting the first 20 of it?

the challenge I am giving myself is to me to come up with something creative, powerful, and memorable that will take up the entire 30 seconds and not waste a second. Note that I will not be singing it, if you want to know why, call my boss. She can tell you (thats a story for another blog posting.)

How does your elevator pitch go? Does it work? Why do you think some people get lazy with them?

Posted in Marketing and Advertising, Sales, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

What is it that you really want to do?

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about one of their family members who is hating life at his new job. I was shocked. I spoke with his wife just over a month ago and she was telling me how it was his dream job and dream company.

Turns out this company is the leader in the field that he loves – but after putting in some time has realized its is not a culture fit at all. It must be ultra dissappointing and discouraging working for the best in your preferred field of interest and knowing you don’t belong there.

As we discussed it further I took on the idea that  what we want to do may not necessarily have anything to do with role or industry or company.

I propose that  some people want:

  • To put in time and just get a paycheck.
  • Add value to a company in any way possible.
  • Climb to the top and be the head honcho.
  • Be passionate about the purpose and mission of the company and play whatever role is asked of them.
  • Work in their job category regardless of company and industry.
  • Work in an industry regardless of the job or company.

There could be other reasons as well. But ultimately I think next time this person will do a better job interviewing for fit next time.

I submit that job seekers should do four things:

  • Interview for anything. You can never know a companies culture, opportunities, purposes etc by looking at a job description. You may find a dream job in a very drab description.
  • Ask question around the those things that give you immediate fulfillment.
  • Ask questions about those things that will satisfy you in the long run.
  • Ask situation questions about inter company interactions, how the handle difficult situations,  and how they have evolved in the last decade of two recessions.

Why shouldn’t you? After all – every organization looks at cultural fit when they choose to hire why should the interviewee  not be making the same assessment on their end?

In the end – if the fit isn’t right it works out poorly for everyone.

Posted in employee engagement, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Job Search

Posted in Mobile technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

Do You Dread, or Look Forward to Company Conferences?

Last week I spent nearly 5 days at my companies annual Global Sales and Delivery Conference. (No, I am not above shameless company promotion, but I do not work for SalesLogix either.) I am aware that some people love these get togethers. There is plenty of networking that goes on, you learn the the new strategic direction of the company, enjoy inspirational entertainment and keynote speakers – and get to stay at fancy hotels.

On the flip side, I am also aware that some people absolutely dread these conferences. They already keep in touch with all the associates they want to and the networking seems pointless, they grudgingly applaud the CEO as he/she pronounces the soon to be dead initiatives, can’t stand the cheezy motivational hoorahs and would prefer to be at home.

I have to admit, I am the kind of person who really enjoys these things – but only when they are done right. This year, my company did it right. Here are five things that made this a success:

  1. The keynote and breakout sessions were relevant. Before the conference the organizers did a great job of finding out what topics we needed and wanted to know more about, what we were struggling with, and what we wanted to do better. They then executed on that information flawlessly. I wanted to attend every breakout session but could only choose 1 per time slot. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my clone to attend the other sessions.
  2. They allowed for networking time, but not so much you didn’t know what to do with yourself. The first night of the conference was brief and packed with activities you could do with a tight knit group or branch out and meet others. Perfect for the Woo’s and the Wall Flowers. Other than that you had to be aggressive on the 15 minute breaks and before dinner. Those power networkers got a lot done, and those who are less prone to stick their hand out and meet somebody could easily waste time pretending they were checking email.
  3. The company executives kept themselves brief, engaging, and and on topic. This included their presentations, introductions of others and even the award ceremonies. Their time wasn’t short – but not long winded either. Much of it involved recognizing and involving the lesser known employees who do a lot of the “rolled up sleeves” work as well. It was very tasteful. One of the executives even turned her presentation into a skit of sorts, involving a rag-time like pianist and vocal singers. Lots of fun and very engaging. Most of all, we weren’t drowned in data and easy to forget numbers and information.
  4. The strategic direction is perfectly aligned to what needed to be done, not some grandiose and unrealistic proposition. Don’t get me wrong, we are pushing the envelope again and challenging ourselves. But what we heard wasn’t surprising, doesn’t demand an overhaul of job roles and responsibilities for the front line, and allows us to truly serve value to our clients at the same time.
  5. They planned for us to get outside in thefresh air doing non-business activities for renewal. 3-5 days in a hotel is tough. Very little natural light, almost no fresh air and long periods of time sitting in one spot (minus all the stand up applauses that are frequently over used) can be mentally and physically draining. So this year when they bused everyone out to the nearby mountains to do activities of our choice (Fly Fishing, Horseback Riding, ATV, Shopping, Mountain Biking, and others) everyone came back re-invigorated. The timing was perfect and allowed us to be fully engaged for the rest of the conference.

So tell us, what are some major successes and failures you have seen at your company conferences – oh, no name dropping on the failures please.

Posted in employee engagement, Leadership, management | Tagged , ,