Setting the Stage – I’m in the market for a tablet – the computer kind – not the one I used in grade school. Although there is something to be said for the benefits of paper and pen though. But, my Dell laptop is acting wacko (technical term) and I’ve decided to try a tablet instead of replacing the laptop.
I have an iPhone and I was all set on getting the new iPad2. I’m not an Apple evangelist. I have a custom i7 tower running Windows that has screaming speed and all the computational power, bells and whistles that I need for a while. That means I don’t automatically get in line for the latest Apple product. On the other hand, I really like my iPhone and I was a Blackberry user before that.
The Sales & Marketing Part – So when I read about the iPad2 on March 2nd, I was sold. I went to the Apple website to buy it. But, Apple informed me they would not let me place an order. I would have to wait until March 11th which is the soonest Apple will take my money which is all part of their marketing strategy. Apple always makes the early adopters and fans wait and salivate for the newest and best ever. Except this time I’m wondering if that strategy is going to backfire.
I had already made my decision to purchase and I think they should have taken my order. When the customer says I’m ready to buy, Sales 101 says take the order. But, Apple marketing says “We’ll take the order when our marketing strategy dictates.” And, I still might buy the iPad on March 11th. But, I also might buy something totally different – something that a lot of people who get paid for evaluating these kinds of things say is better. And, I wouldn’t know about this other tablet or even want to read about it if Apple had only taken my order when they announced the product on March 2nd.
Here’s what happened that may change my mind. Today my desktop reader had a story about something called the XOOM. The headline was screaming out for my attention so I read the story. What I found is that the XOOM has some major compelling features and benefits when compared to the iPad2. I’m not going to list them because that isn’t what this story is about.
The XOOM is made by Motorola. After reading the article I went to the XOOM site with two questions.
Can you purchase just a Wi-Fi version as I’m not all that interested in connecting to Verizon’s system with another device.
And, how much does it cost.
I couldn’t find the answer to either question on the Motorola XOOM site. I could click on a Buy Now button which took me to Verizon where I was asked my Zip code and told I could buy it for $599 with a two-year data plan which made me think that I can’t buy a Wi-Fi only model. That isn’t what I wanted and I still didn’t have an answer to my questions.
Just for giggles I Googled “Must I buy a data plan with the XOOM?” Guess what? I don’t have to buy a data plan. Although apparently you did when the XOOM was first released. Or, maybe I still do. Talk about confusion. And to make matters worse some of the compelling features are not finished and don’t work. Yikes!
And, this brings me back to Apple. They aren’t confused and they don’t leave me confused. I can go to their site and see every configuration of the iPad2 and I know exactly how much it will cost. I can’t easily do that (if at all) with the XOOM. I leave the Motorola, Verizon and Best Buy sites wondering if they know what they are selling and who they are selling it to. It does not inspire confidence.
The Bottom Line – Apple has their act together when it comes to marketing, design, and customer service (most of the time although I hear stories of service slipping). They are also tuned into their fans like no other company.
Verizon is an entirely different story. Rated one of the Bottom 10 companies in the US for customer service, I can attest they do work hard to earn that distinction. Best Buy who is also selling the XOOM get a Dishonorable Mention in the same survey.
I have confidence in Apple. I find a bit of arrogance seeping into their customer service. So, which do you think I will buy? Which one would you buy assuming you had the need or just wanted one? Why?
I’ll probably get the iPad2. But, I’d still advise Apple to take the order when someone wants to buy and not when they are ready to let them buy.
I was doing some web surfing last night that left me shaking my head at how some companies still think they are in control of what consumers want. There was a time when they could jam advertising down our throats and we pretty much had to accept it in order to get the content we wanted. Everyone knows those days are over – everyone that is except those companies (almost always large) that just won’t give up trying to be in control of our viewing habits.
Are you familiar with the term pre-roll? It is the online video ad that comes up and forces you to watch it when you click on a link to content you’d like to see. ABC is one of the worst for pre-roll video in my opinion. If the news story is hot or one likely to attract a lot of eyes then you can bet that ABC will put a 15 – 30 second ad in front of the story that you cannot stop if you want to watch the story.
So what do people do about that? If they are like me they click away from ABC and find the same story someplace else. TubeMogul states that 16% click away. I’m not buying that. I think it is a lot higher.
But, then maybe most people have lots of time to waste and enjoy being manipulated into watching something. I doubt that!
I’m very interested in using online video for business and so should you if you care about sales and marketing. Using video to market, educate, entertain, sell, etc. is the sweet spot of online marketing now and for at least as many years forward as I can see. I don’t have to tell you (but I am) that your television, computer and mobile device screen (especially your mobile device screen) are all kind of merging together as far as where you get information.
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world – larger than Yahoo. Your customers are watching more online video all the time and it isn’t just the kids. The middle-age to senior demographic is also showing amazing growth in online video viewing.
What you need to remember is the customer is in total control now. You need to get their attention but not by manipulating them into watching your advertisement. Most of them are not even original but just a 30 or 60 second commercial the agency cut down to fit in a shorter time span online.
What you and I will be doing is delighting our customers, clients and prospects with video that is interesting, educational, entertaining and fun! Video can be a great salesperson for you but just like you need an exceptional salesperson to get exceptional results the same thing goes for video. Put out junk video and it will work as well as using a junk direct mailing.
The same companies using manipulating tactics with online video are also using Twitter and Facebook to push advertising instead of having a conversation or putting out information people want to read or see. Don’t let yourself become one of them. Find yourself someone to guide you and run from anyone who says you need a big production budget. The most watched online videos are short and simple.
I’m excited about the future of online video. I want my clients to use it to not only market but to improve customer service, interactively engage with people, teach, and make them smile.
If you have any doubts about how important online video is to your business, I want you remember that is a medium like film, radio, and television. At the time those three mediums began people scoffed and said it will never replace the previous, it won’t become popular, it is just a gimmick, etc. It is a fact that many of those people were marketers who wanted to stick with what was working. I wonder things turned out for them?
Don’t be one of them. Start learning about online video now. I’m going to sponsor a free “How to Use Online Video in Your Business” webinar in the near future. If you’re interested in getting an email announcement before we invite the general public, then click here and you’ll have the first opportunity to register. It should be both educational and fun!
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.
So, 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.
Samuel Stupp and his team at the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine at Northwestern is Molecules that are allowing paralyzed rats to walk again, polymer nanofibers that could assist the body to grow cartilage, and a heart repair technique based on molecular technology. They are creating miracles.
His team is a disparate group of scientists who work together doing interdisciplinary research. Getting a group of chemists, nanotechnologists, physicists, biologists and materials scientists to work together on the same projects must be akin to herding cats.
“He pays attention to human beings in a way I’ve never seen from someone at his level”
That may be the greatest compliment anyone can give to another person. Dr. Stupp is a leader and not a manager.
Dr. Stupp is also a fantastic salesperson. He understands that to convince a disparate group of people that they can work together to create miracles means you have to sell them on why they can and should do it. He knows he has to find out what makes each member of his team tick. How do they think.
He does that by asking questions and listening “in a way I’ve never seen from someone at his level.”
What do you employees, co-workers, clients and customers say about your listening skills – about how you pay attention to them?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
There are a lot of great ideas floating around. Megan or Paul will even help you create new ideas. I bet you have a few of your own right now. Are you going to do something about it? Or, will you just let it simmer on the back burner for a while longer?
Whatever you do I want you to know one very important fact that will make all the difference as to whether that idea comes to fruition or not.
You ready? Here goes.
It might be the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t sell it, you might as well forget it right now.
That might sound harsh but it is a fact. Think back to the last time you had what you thought was a great idea but didn’t pan out. I’ll bet you right now it didn’t work because you couldn’t sell it. You couldn’t attract others to follow you. Sure, people will tell you what a great idea it is but ask them to buy it. And, buy can stand for things like recommend you, help you, follow you, invest or actually purchase from you.
If they say “No” then you need to either rethink your idea or find out if you just don’t know how to sell it.
How many times a day do you have that type of exchange with someone either in person, on the phone, or in email? It’s already happened to me a half-dozen times this morning. I always assume the initial question is a social greeting and not really a question. I don’t think most people really want to take the time to listen to me – to find out how I really am feeling. And, that’s okay most of the time.
A lot of people aren’t really fine right now. And, they have been better. You might count yourself in that group. You might be wondering if you’re really doing the thing in life that makes a difference for both yourself and those around you. It’s easy to wonder when you hear and see so much negativity around you. However, I’m here to tell you that with over 60 years of experience as a human being, I find that there always will be negative people, negative stories, and those who have given up on making a difference and want you to join them. Ignore them. Run from them.
Running your own business, working in sales, shipping a new project, and making a difference are all challenging not just for you but for all of us. Don’t let the experts tell you any differently. It’s hard work. That’s why it’s called work. But, it can be fun and rewarding and you can make a difference. I bet you already are making one with someone.
But, maybe you’re feeling dissatisfied and scared. It’s good to be dissatisfied otherwise we’d never strive to make somethign even better and scared is normal. You were successful at something before you started this new project, career, or business. What was it about you that allowed you to be successful in the first place? Are you doing what led to that success now? You might be harboring assumptions that are stifling you now. Do you have a list of “shoulds” that are holding you back. What could they be?
Now, please go find a quiet place, sit down and relax and then ask yourself this question. Or, better yet, sit with a trusted friend or two and let them listen to the answer.
The question is, “How are you?”
And, now, give yourself and them the honest answer.
Talk about why you’re dissatisfied, why you’re scared and why you’re worried you might now be doing the “one thing” that will make a difference. Or, maybe how you’re afraid of the idea of even doing one thing.
Listen to your answers. Write them down – especially the assumptions and the shoulds. Ask yourself if you’re trying to force things to happen. Are you focused on the right thing?
And, what is the right thing? I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not:
Proving something to someone else or proving them wrong.
Getting the award, the recognition, the trophy.
Focusing on these things will only lead to failure. I suggest focusing on one thing for the time being.
Focus on providing extraordinary value to the people you come in contact with every moment of every day. Ask yourself:
What kind of value can I provide for this person?
How can I make their lives better without consideration for my own agenda?
Who can I connect them with who will bring more value to their lives?
That’s it. One primary focus and three questions.
And, now will you do me a favor? Will you answer these two questions for me? You can do it in the comments or send me a private email but I promise you that I will listen.
How are you?
What can I do to help you get what you want in life?