My New Email Marketing Partner

I was their email marketing customer for about 7 years – almost as long as they have been in business under the Constant Contact name. Month in and out I sent payments to them for their services. We didn’t have a wonderful relationship. We didn’t have a bad one either. We just didn’t have one at all. If I had questions I asked them by email. I never got to know anyone at their company. In my mind they were a yellow blob kind of entity that satisfied my email marketing needs.

But needs are not the same as wants are they?

I found myself wanting more. I wanted to build a relationship with my email marketing company. I wanted advice from people who had to know more about tactics and strategy than I did. I wanted to easily be able to test email subject lines, delivery times, and even content. I wanted to be able to integrate with Google Analytics and take advantage of social media integration and reporting.

And, most importantly, I wanted to be able to pick up the phone and talk to people who know me by name sort of like Norm walking into Cheers.

Truth is I had no idea if such a company existed. But, I was determined to find one or make one. Luckily, my search led me to Blue Sky Factory whose name made me wonder if they were an off-shoot of an aviation company.

So the first thing I did was go to their website and look up their history because I didn’t understand the name. It turned out to be a great story and it is what hooked me into looking further into their services. Let me briefly share a little bit of their story.

Blue Sky Factory got its name from back when it was a web design company based in Baltimore. Baltimore’s an industrial city, filled with old factories, and that’s where the Factory piece came in. The Blue Sky part came from the founders’ original idea that working with them would make all your dreams come true.

Blue Sky Factory is all about your success (Blue Sky), and the idea that success isn’t luck or an accident, but something you make (Factory). Our mission, our vision, our calling in the business world is to help you become a better marketer through effective email and social marketing.

They had me at success isn’t luck or an accident, but something you make.

ListeningSo, I made the switch. I now feel like I’m part of the Blue Sky Factory family. There are a number of the employees who do know my name. They even proactively call me to see if things are going according to my expectations. They offer to help me meet my goals at least every few days – without me asking. The changeover was work – I won’t deny that fact. But, they were there holding my hand, answering questions and even pitching in and doing some of the actual work.

My company doesn’t just do our own email marketing. We also have a number of long-term clients for whom we do all their email marketing too. I love using Publicaster which is the application that allows me to control all the accounts, manage lists, design and create emails, build campaigns, test, get reports in a zillion different formats and more all from a dashboard that I control.

For a couple of months we ran tandem systems while converting over to Blue Sky. Finally last week I pulled the plug on Constant Contact. I sent them an email and said I’d like to cancel my business partner account with them along with all of my client accounts. Now I really expected they’d ask me why I was leaving them after seven years of what they called a business partnership. I expected they’d make a push to keep me as a customer.

Instead they emailed me and asked me my mother’s maiden name for security purposes and sent me a form email saying all the accounts are cancelled now. They didn’t even say thank you for the last seven years. Instead they warned me that Federal Law requires me to honor all opt-out requests indefinitely. As someone who has spent their life teaching sales, marketing and customer service, I wanted to cry. Instead I laughed.

So here I am now at the beginning of a new relationship – one that I hope will last even longer than my last. Considering the fact that my new friends spend a lot of time listening to me, I’m pretty sure it is going to be Blue Skies ahead for all of us.

Frankenfish – Good or Bad?

Do you like eating salmon? I love it and have even had the pleasure of catching my own a couple of times. However, for the past ten years I’ve only eaten wild Pacific salmon that I buy online and have shipped. Once you’ve tasted it you’ll never want to go back to the farmed salmon.

But this is actually a story about a salmon marketing strategy. It seems that our wild populations are dwindling although not everywhere. Some places are seeing growth in the wild populations. However, farming salmon is a bit of a problem. Not only are there problems with disease but it takes 3 pounds of feed to grow 1 pound of salmon.

Enter AquaBounty Technologies with a simple solution – the AquAdvantage® Salmon. Yes, not a King, Chinook, Coho or Sockeye but an AquAdvantage. They describe it on their website:

The AquAdvantage® fish program is based upon a single, specific molecular modification in fish that results in more rapid growth in early development. This enables shorter production cycles and increased efficiency of production. In the case of AquAdvantage® Salmon, these benefits will permit the use of alternative production systems which have substantial environmental and fish health benefits which are not economical for conventional Atlantic Salmon.

Yes, you read that correctly, AquaBounty has produced a genetically engineered Atlantic Salmon. By splicing in a gene from Chinook salmon with DNA from an Ocean Pout which looks like an eel on steroids, the AquaAdvantage salmon can grow twice as fast.Ocean Pout eel like fish.

Kind of sounds like the 2004 horror film Frankenfish.

So what are the odds of a genetically engineered fish soon showing in your supermarket? I’d like to tell you slim and none but I’m afraid you might be seeing them very soon at a restaurant or market near you. According to the site and Time magazine, preliminary reviews by FDA officials suggest a bias toward approving this Frankenfish for consumption in the United States. Documents released by FDA staff said the altered salmon are “as safe to eat as food from other Atlantic salmon.” The agency said it found “no biologically relevant differences” in vitamins, minerals or fatty acids.

Putting aside the vitamin, mineral and fatty acid question you should also consider that the FDA report found the genetically altered salmon had high levels of tissue inflammation suggesting a problem with their immune systems which might mean the need for more antibiotics to be fed to the fish. And, they also contain higher levels of an insulin growth hormone than wild fish. Think about that as you enjoy that salmon roll or broiled fillet.

It seems like if the FDA had their way we’d already see this in the marketplace. But, there are some large organizations and legislators who are ready to fight to stop them. The American Council on Science and Health says it is fine to eat the fish and it is an unfounded health scare. But, I’m a little dubious when in the same article they also say high fructose corn syrup is not to blame for obesity – consuming too many calories is the problem. Huh? Really! Wow!

What’s your take on genetically modified fish? Shrimp are next on the list as well as other species of fish.

Are you ready to sit down to a dinner of Frankenfish?

Photo courtesy Andy Martinez and Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary

Stop The Small Business Financial Roller Coaster

A recent call from a friend needing help to generate some new business to fill in for a delayed contract got me to thinking of how to help him from this happening again. One of the challenges of being a small business or solo entrepreneur is the cyclical nature of the business. It seems like you’re always either delivering or creating your products or services or you’re trying to drum up business. By the way, the term drum up business came about because the earliest traveling salesmen were called drummers.

Photo courtesy eschipul

I suggested getting a drum and beating it on a street corner to my friend. I’ll spare you his response as I don’t want to engage in profanity. Shame on him.

I then discussed the following process with him. It has worked for me for many years so maybe it can be of value to you too. It might even help you get off the financial roller coaster of running a small business.

  1. First write down all the benefits that you deliver to your clients. Give this some serious thought. Do you save them money, make their lives better, help them increase their company’s value, allow them to live the life they want, find them more customers, etc., etc. You should be able to make a pretty long list.
  2. Next write down why your clients choose you over all the other choices they have in the world. Don’t be shy here. I want you to have the courage to face the truth and write down why you’re different and better than your competition.
  3. Now make a list of companies that you know could use your services. They may be in the same market as your other clients or you’ve already seen that they use a competitors products or services.
  4. Here comes the fun part! Do whatever it is that puts you in your most creative mode and pretend you are now the CEO of the company you want to sell. I want you to put together a plan that will help your company (not YOUR company – remember you’re pretending to be the CEO of the company you want have as a client) be more successful. Successful should tie back to what you wrote in Step #1 and #2.
  5. Since you’re using the reasons you listed in the first two steps to help define the plan that means that your plan will use the services of someone like YOU.
  6. Now go make an appointment to see the actual CEO of that company. Tell them you have an idea that will help them (back to the Steps again).
  7. Present your plan. Create a new client.

Sound too simple or too complicated? Here’s a scenario. You’re a professional studio photographer. You do most any kind of photography and you’re good. But, you’re stuck trying to find consistent business. So, you apply the process above.

You write down all the benefits you bring to your clients along with all the reasons why they should buy from you. (By the way, this is the most difficult part of the process.)

You see that a local community bank is spending lots of dollars advertising how they are different than the big banks. They are saying things like:

  • They are local.
  • They are more in touch with their customers.
  • They know their customers.

So you go see the CEO and you tell her that you have created a marketing campaign for them that increases their community visibility while driving home their core message. It’s called “Faces of Our Town.” You’ll go out into the community where you will take candid portraits of people working, playing, learning, praying, etc. You’ll get all the necessary releases for the images and then you will create large prints for a gallery that will be hung in the bank. For the next 90 days all the banks advertising will be focused on the gallery. After spending the first 30 days in the bank the gallery will travel to other local business, schools and churches to be hung in their buildings. You’ll take care of all those details too. At the end of the campaign the photos will go into a permanent display in the bank and the people in the photos will get a nice sized copy for themselves.

The CEO is thrilled at the idea. You’ve just made her job easier and you are taking care of all the details.  It’s a win-win. And, they are already spending lots of dollars on trying to create the very perception you are going to enhance and strengthen. You are offering so much value that the investment in you and your services will not be a factor. She will ask how much. This is where you look her straight in the eye and give her the price. And, this is where you also remember the things you wrote down in Steps 1 and 2. You’ll get the contract.

And, guess what? Your name is attached to all the images, the gallery and the permanent display. Thousands of people all of whom are potential customers will see your work. You’ll be getting some of the best advertising and public relations possible.

And, you’ll be getting paid for it too.

What’s stopping you? Put away the drum and start with Step #1. You can adapt this process to any type of business.

Let me know how it works out and don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Photo courtesy eschipul

Who Is Bob Poole Video

Well, if you’re reading this then you’re on my brand new site. It was time to get my blog and website in the same place. I’m excited about it and I hope you find it useful. I’d love your feedback and feel free to poke around and make sure we didn’t leave construction debris or tools lying about.

I also decided it might be fun to do a little different “About” page. I mean they are usually boring or too much or not enough. So, I asked a bunch of friends to answer the question, “Who is Bob Poole?” and create a short video as an answer. Then the brilliant Paul Durban mashed them up. We put it on the main page for now for you to see. I’m also going to put it below.

But first – here is the list of the guilty parties who contributed. They did a wonderful job and I thank them very much.

In order of appearance:
Johnny B. Truant
Charlie Gilkey
Jodi Kaplan
Anonymous Landscaper
Martin Whitmore
Rolly Brown
Anonymous Bartender
Pace Smith
Rob Plotkin
Megan Elizabeth Morris
Seth Godin
Paul Durban
Joann Scully Poole
Michael Tapp Jr.
Tom Bentley
Two Creative People
Tim Brownson

Now on with show!

What If a Party Broke Out In Your Doctor’s Office?

I was sitting in my family doctor’s waiting room this morning when a crazy idea flashed into my brain. Now, you should know I was fasting for the previous 12 hours so perhaps my brain was a bit addled. But, here it is and you can be the judge.

Wouldn’t it be a lot of fun if doctor’s offices had patient appreciation days? Your average doctor’s waiting room is about as much fun as the local undertakers. Actually, my local mortician is a whole lot more entertaining than any physician I know. I especially like it when he removes his toupee or puts it on backwards.

Anyway, back to the doctor’s office. At least once a month, I think they need to have patient appreciation day complete with balloons, costumes, some music (other than the usual PBS stuff), refreshments (they can be of the healthy variety) and some good, old-fashioned hugs handed out by the staff and physicians.

I know you’re thinking this is a dumb idea. I bet you’re worried about catching something from one of the other patients. Listen, as far as I’m concerned, I believe that if you’re sick with something potentially contagious what the hell are you doing mingling with people that are just trying to get their birth control or anxiety drugs?

Which leads me to my other idea for doctor’s waiting rooms – two rooms – one for sick people and one for well. I bet it would cut down immensely on colds, flu and dirty looks being spread around. And, we’ll make sure the sick people get refreshments too. And, yeah, a couple of the balloons. Sorry – no hugs.

Health care is one of the most expensive things we pay for in this country. Doesn’t it make good customer service sense to say thank you to the people footing the bill? And, if you think you’re not footing the bill because insurance is paying for it then you need to make sure you always go into the sick person waiting room.

So, what do you think? How are you going to feel if the next time you visit your doctor a party breaks out to thank you for being a patient?

Trust me, you’ll thank me.

And, while you’re thinking about it, how can you show your customers, clients, or patients that you appreciate them? When is the last time you said thank you? When is the last time you had balloons for them.

When is the last time you gave them a hug?

Image compliments of deltaMike

Corporate Pacifiers

They still don't get it. What is it about companies that still insist on doing everything the way they've always done it? Do they think that it's safe? It's not.

They're still doing things like buying air time instead of providing personal value. And, when they do dip their toes into any new marketing like social media they either spam or hire a PR firm to do it for them. Ask B.P. (British Petroleum not Bob Poole) how that worked out for them.

When they look for help with this new marketing they run to the same old entrenched big consulting, legal and accounting firms for answers. Or, they have a PhD from a big name business school put on a seminar.

It's like having a corporate pacifier. But, a pacifier is just that. It makes you feel good for the moment but it doesn't get you what you want and need.

Go ask some twenty-something-year-olds who are running their own businesses about marketing today. They can teach you more about what to do and what you CANNOT do than any of these big name firms.

But, that would be taking a risk. Instead they continue to follow the process they've always taken. Forget creativity. Forget standing out. Forget leading. Just suck on the pacifier.

There is a belief amongst these companies that nobody ever gets fired for hiring IBM and the other big name firms.

I say that's another big mistake.

Learn How to Recognize and Sell to the Four Personality Types

People do business with people that they know, like, and trust. Since we can’t pick or choose the “type” of person we are most likely to trust and like right away, we need to learn how to effectively with everyone’s personality style.” Learn how in this report and start increasing your sales right away!

Selling To The Four Personality Types