Archive for category Strategy

Look up!


I ran across this post at “Damn I Wish I Would Have Thought of That!” and thought it was worth sharing.  Sometimes the act of finding a new client is as simple as seeing there is an opportunity to help someone with their situation.

Look up!

May 15, 2011

Our neighbor had their gutters replaced yesterday.

Our gutters are (shamefully) falling off the house.

Why didn’t their gutter guy call us?

Your next customer is closer than you think — if you’re paying attention.

via Look up!.

Good Hunting.

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Facebook expands @ mention tagging to comments


A while back, Facebook introduced Twitter-esque @ tagging, allowing users to mention specific people in posts and status messages. Now Facebook has expanded that same functionality to include comments. The update also provides users with a notification when someone tags them, the same way Facebook notifies you about — well, about nearly everything.

via Facebook expands @ mention tagging to comments.

The use of “@ mention tagging” is one of the tactics I teach my clients to use.  It is one of the fastest ways to get your status post to show up on someone’s wall, and by that I mean their fiend list.  Now with the instruction of @ mentions on comments we can even push this further then before.  This comes in very handy since the share button is no longer visible on our page updates.  I think I need to get my clients on a conference call and retrain them on this new capability.

Usage Recommendation

This exercise is about Marketing Reach.    And this introduction of comment @ mention’s now opens up any status update to increase your brand awareness.  Also let me say, this is not about spam either, remember your comments can be deleted by the status author and they can remove you from their list as well.

Here are some ideas, and remember you need to switch to the ‘fan page author’ so your fan page get’s the credit for the comment:

  • Affinities – If you know that one of your fans has in interesting or passion in something you have run across, you make a comment with and @ mention to that fan and your fan page is then showing up on their wall and to their friends.
  • Awareness – something new that you find and want to share it with specific fans, especially very active fans,  you make a comment with and @ mention to that fan and your fan page is then showing up on their wall and to their friends.
  • Praise – share the love so you make a comment with and @ mention to that fan and your fan page is then showing up on their wall and to their friends.

I’m sure there are other applications.  Please share with me your ideas on how your are using this new capability.

Good Hunting.

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Techno Valentines Idea: Cloud Tags


Here’s an idea I worked on and provided my wife.  And it WORKED!  Generally speaking, create a thought stream of your loved one in any word processor.  Don’t worry about sentence structure.  Just type out any word that comes to mind.  Don’t worry about punctuation.  Don’t worry about duplicating words, in fact, that’s the point.  The words that are most important should be repeated naturally in the thought stream.

Wordle Tag Cloud

You can create a cloud at Wordle.net for this exercise.  Cut and paste your text into the box they provide.  Below I have included a cloud created from one of my blog post. (I don’t think my wife would want to put my gift to her on this, it was a bit intimate … hint, hint)

Ditch the Office: Next Week is National Telework Week

Good hunting and good luck!

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Marketing Success – Jackie Chan Style


In “Success” magazine (Success.com February 2011) I found a great article on Jacky Chan. In this articles they list Jacky Chan’s 7 Traits for Success.  I found his thoughts fit nicely into internet marketing as well.  So I’m going to take his traits but add my own thoughts to each of his traits.

1) A willingness to crash and burn

I can’t stress enough that each internet marketer should try to fail, often, and big.  Two phrases come to mind “Go Big, or Go Home!” and “Failure is an event, not a title!”  Your embrace of risk might be the deciding factor that helps you find your niche.

2) A discipline for fitness

The key word being discipline.  Fitness is needed for everyone, but in marketing, we need focus, intentional creative disruption.  We often try many tactics for our clients.  We need to perform our duties in such a way that our measurements tell us which tactic produced the results and then build on them.

3) A disdain for wasted time

As Zig Ziglar wrote in his “See You at the Top” recording your activities and understanding what it takes to create positive results in critical.  Equally important is understanding what is not helping you create success.  Avoiding time wasters are equally important then improving skills.

4) A need for alternative opinions

It’s important we seek out and study other disciplines and build on the lessons of those.  Reading materials from other continents, or cultures.   Subscribe to blogs from other marketers on other countries.  Spend time discussing ideas on twitter or in blog comments.  It will improve your ability to communicate your positions to clients and prospects.

5) A set of high expectations

Never be afraid to say “That’s not good enough” and demand more of the outcomes of your tasks and tactics.  With internet marketing it often a series of “shoot, ready, aim” moments, but that doesn’t mean we can expect some impressive marksmanship!

6) An accurate moral compass

A marketer with no moral compass is simply a politician.  Enough said.

7) A relentless sense of humor

By all means, have some fun.  If you can’t laugh and laugh hard at your work, you will often find yourself  ‘chasing rabbits’.  I know we call it work, but push the limits, always create a version of your latest project that is an exaggeration of the client requirements.  By creating this outlier, you will find your other ideas less risky and at the same time take some risks.

So which one of these traits caught your eye?  Which of these traits are you doing well at?  Which one of these traits do you need to work on?  I’d love to get your feedback.

Enjoy!  Good Hunting!

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YOU 2.0 – The Storymaker


For the last several weeks I’ve been thinking about the concepts of influence, purpose, drive, and accomplishment.  As it turns out the topic naturally surfaced while reading books, reading blogs, posting my comments on blogs,  the podcasts that happen to be next on my iPod nano, and even the keynote speech at the ‘Opening Days’ event at the college I teach at.   I simply couldn’t escape the topic so I started documenting my thoughts and this post is the outcome.

Storymaker vs. Storyteller

“Chance favors the prepared” – Louis Pasteur

The term “Storymaker” surfaced in a Duct Tape Marketing podcast in which the authors of the book Content Rules were being interviewed.  The podcast itself was not about this topic solely but rather the concept of preemptive content creation planning and activity  out before it happens and making a story out of it.  The premise was that ‘content rules’ and the best content comes from a planned approach to the situation at hand.

Around the same time, the Manager’s Tools podcast had a topic on “assumptive goal setting” which immediately had me thinking about the Storymaker concept.  In this case they were talking about managing projects and staffs but it easily fit into the thought of managing situations you are in.  Before we begin a set of tasks, let’s say talking to  Southwest Bell on a problem, we would make certain assumptions of what we want to accomplish and how we will do it and of course how much we are willing to spend in time, energy, and resources.

As you can imagine, I listen to podcasts when I’m on the move (much to the disgust of my wife who thinks I’m being very rude!).  But at the same time I ran across the above two podcasts, I also was reading Zig Ziglar’s “See You at the Top”, and as it happens, I was in the section on Goals.  This is a great book to get if you still can find it.  I know it’s dated but well worth the search and addition to your library.  Oh, and i have to throw in a little inspirations from “Clue Train Manifesto” as well.

Here are some of the characteristics of a Storymaker:

  • Intend to Make a Story –
  • Build your Assumptions
  • “That’s Not Good Enough” is a phrase spoken often
  • Finds meaning and purpose in everything
  • Believe every next event can be a work of art

Important: You are the SAME

You are a brand.  Your brand hasn’t changed.  I don’t want anyone thinking they have to change who they are.  (I fully expect you will change something when you think ahead before doing something though.) I’m not asking you to reinvent yourself, simply understand how your role impacts others in your story.  You now have the ability to influence others more then they have in any other time in history.  Technology has opened the door to allow a common person (small brand) to interact with large company (large brand) and shape the outcome by using tools like social media.  We have moved from the time of Word of Mouth to Word of Keyboard to Word of Friend List / Followers / Subscribers / Contacts.

If you Make a Story that is sharable, compelling, and inspiring, you have a stronger likelihood of having your social network share that story then if you are simply passing along a story.  If your social network passes it on, your influence is now exponential rather then the old linear word of mouth.

It is a matter of INFLUENCE.  It is a matter of improving your influence.  Chris Brogan had a great post on “Improving Your Influence“.    It’s also good to understand that technology now has the ability to help you understand how you are doing with your reach by using simple reports.

Thought Provoking Quotes

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose” – Viktor Frankl

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“With definite goals you release your own power, and things start happening” – Zig Ziglar

“No matter what your job is, no matter where you work, there’s a way to create a project (on your own, on weekends if necessary), where the excitement is palpable, where something that might make a difference is right around the corner. Hurry, go do that.” – Godin (emphasis added)

Application

Ok, so what do we do with this?  How can you take the Storymaker concept and apply it to YOU 2.0, the brand?  Can we take everyday life and transform our navigation through it from a passive, powerless, storytelling existence to a assumptive, empowered, storymaking role?

Here are some thought:

  • Work – in the next week, month, year – plan out what story you would want to tell, not only that, but what story someone starting in your field would be motivated by and willing to embrace as an example of how they want to be seen. Analyst, Assistant, President, Janitor – makes no difference – Make A Story!
  • Sports – Plan out your story, game by game, season by season.  Create a story that someone starting in your sport would be motivated by and willing to embrace as an example of how they want to be seen in the future.
  • Society – create a story for your community.  Write a story that motivates your fellow citizen to get off the sideline and become a positive player in their world.
  • Self – Your next chapter begins today.  Decide now what you want written about your life.  Become a motivation to your next generation.  Be something that others would be willing to emulate.  Create a story that others would want to share.

I would love to know your thoughts on this post.  Let me know what stories you are now planning to create.  Become the Storymaker, leave behind the storyteller.

Good Hunting.

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Customer Experience Investment Opportunities (Revisited)


[Note: this is an older post but the “Ill Advised Investments” example came up in a recent meeting and brought a smile back to my face so I’m recycling the post.  I’ve also added another great quote from Godin as well]

I love the way Seth Godin’s mind works. In a resent post, “How much extra for nice?” brings up the critical point of how much we are willing to pay for better service but reminds companies that creating this environment costs a fraction of what people are willing to pay. The benefits can last longer.

I also read another great thought from Seth Godin as well:

No matter what your job is, no matter where you work, there’s a way to create a project (on your own, on weekends if necessary), where the excitement is palpable, where something that might make a difference is right around the corner.

Hurry, go do that.

Godin in “What are you working on?

Beneficial Investments

In a recent post, I identified three example of customer service excellence. How much money was budgeted to create this customer service environment? These types of examples have a lasting benefit that far outweighs the cost of implementing them. If companies can recognize this before dismissing these opportunities, the rewards have an exponential effect.

Some examples:

  • Hiring the right people
  • Having the right people perform jobs they love to do best.
  • Continuous improvement of the customer experience at all levels of the company
  • Reward excellence and avoid promoting people out of their natural strengths.

Ill Advised Investments

Although I agree with Seth’s premise, as consumers, here are some examples in which we should avoid paying extra to have someone be nice to us!

  • $100 to the Police Officer at a traffic stop – will only produce untold number of stories for your grandchildren around the campfire, sometime in the distant future.
  • $100 to $10,000 to the triage attendant at the local Emergency Room – will get you absolutely nothing at all except a lighter wallet.
  • $100 turned in with your exam – results may vary, but don’t expect them to be positive.

So do you have any beneficial or ill advised investments to share?

Good Hunting!

See also:

Great Customer Service and Peer Recognition

Customer Service Excellence Examples

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Start, Stop, Continue – Reviewed


When I hear in meetings that people don’t know why they are doing something or why a certain policy is in place I begin to wonder how much time is wasted on things we are just doing because we’ve always done them that way.  This post was triggered after reading “I can’t believe we’re still doing that” which brought back a lot of memories about team meetings that I facilitated and the frustration I had because there was such a resistance to change when confronting obsolete work.  Now I want to admit that I thought I had posted on this exercise in the past but after searching my archive I didn’t find it referenced.  Sorry about that.

Setting the Stage

This exercise is great when change occurs naturally in the workplace.  It does not need to be forced.  But I must admit, when I am called in as an outsider to facilitate change meetings it is very natural for me to use this tool.  If you are managing a team or organizations, there are still may opportunities to use this tool:

  • New Leadership – often a great time to realign your department or team when a new leader is ready to add a new twist or their own perspective to the role of the organization.
  • New Management – this is a great time to review ‘why’ we do things.  There are times when the past choices are allowed to be questioned as to why we are doing something.
  • Direction Change – often with new management or leadership comes a direction change and a time to evaluate past traditional work and possibly make changes.
  • New Team Member – sometimes a new set of eyes brings a new perspective.  And remember, those new team members have past experiences for you to gain from as well.
  • New Competitor – nothing can be more jarring than a new threat in the vicinity.  This change is ideal to reevaluate what the team is doing and make some needed changes.
  • New Capability – learning something new is a great time to make changes.  Sometimes it’s as simple as learning a new lens or gaining new tools or skills that allow you to reevaluate past norms.
  • Measurement Changes – remember always “you are what you measure” and at times those measurements tell you that something is wrong or something unexpectedly went well.  This is a great time to pull the team together and analyze the outlier.

Pick your change.  For the most part any change that occurs in your normal business cycle becomes an opportunity to evaluate your norms and possibly make some changes.  My only word of advice is that you don’t use “Start, Stop, Continue” too much.

Facilitation Instructions

You will need three surfaces, I tend to use three large tear off sheets taped to a wall, with each one title with one of there topics: START, STOP, and CONTINUE.  You will need sticky notes and writing materials, and sticky dots handed out to each person attending the meeting.

You will provide the participants a problem to solve  in which they must come up with ideas on how to improve something by stating things they would START, STOP, or CONTINUE doing.  Here are some suggestions for problems to solve:

  • How can we make this department better?
  • How can we reduced the total elapsed time of a specific process?
  • How can we reduce the duration of a specific task?
  • How can we improve the customer experience?
  • How can we reduce the returned product / restocking percentages?
  • How can we decrease the Account Receivable averages and improve cash flow?

Have the team write their ideas on the sticky notes and place it on the correct START, STOP, or CONTINUE sheet.

Facilitation Tip: This brainstorming session is sometimes best SILENT. As a general rule if there is a superior in rank or position in the room and someone may try to “impress the boss” by controlling the session, or an (opinionated) person who naturally commands all the discussions, then make this part of the exercise “SILENT ONLY” and limit the damage.

If the STOP page seems sparse after the activity is underway, then stop the team and force them to evaluate that specific area alone.

Facilitation Tip: If you have a process map already created for a specific process you are asking the team to improve then make sure the process is visible somewhere in the meeting room.  If you don’t have the process thoroughly mapped out then begin first by mapping the process into a swim-lane chart so everyone can understand what they are being asked to improve.

Group and Rank Suggestions

Have the team go through a nominal grouping exercise where they attached similar ideas together.  Allow the tam to challenge each other.  If an idea seems to fall into two groups then create a second sticky note and have the team move on with other groupings.  Then identify any associations between the grouped items (i.e. Item 2 can’t be started or completed without Item 1 having been accomplished first).

Then have the team vote on which items they think are best.  Give each person 5 or 10 sticky dots.  They can place dots on any of the grouped items.  They can place multiple dots on any one group if they feel strongly that a specific items needs more attention.  (Don’t let them place all their dots on one item though).

This will produce a list of items the group either believes are low hanging fruit or very important and need to be addressed.

We are looking for

STOP Sheet

  • Redundancies
  • Obsolete Steps
  • Eliminate Points of Failure
  • Reduce Inter-Departmental Hand-offs
  • Reduce Elapsed Times

START Sheet

  • New tasks in an existing process
  • New processes
  • Purchase new software / tools
  • New classes to educate staff
  • New Hire orientation updated lists

CONTINUE Sheet

  • All existing items not found on the STOP / START sheets that the team is already performing.

I hope you enjoy this exercise.  Let me know how it went.

Good Hunting.

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Marketing Focus


After reviewing the chart below, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of these issues would drop off if companies were following the principles explained in “Marketing Warfare” by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

Doesn’t it make sense that the marketplace,  and by that definition consumers,  wins if the best companies and products battle it out?  And does this change if it’s B2B or B2c?

Enjoy.  I would love to read your comments on this subject.

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Marketing Civil Rights: Impression’s Inequalities and Injustices


At  some point with each of my clients the question will come up; Should I advertise here?  The client, having seen how effective internet marketing can be, now begins to ask the age old marketing question of REACH.  How do I expand my reach with this wonderful tool or environment?  And if so, where?  And if I stumble across somewhere, is this a good place to advertise?

Inside the question lies a misconception, a costly one.  This misconception has been the death knell of many small business marketing plan’s attempts at internet marketing.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all ads and the locations they are found are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Attention, Re tension and the Guarantee of Profit.

Each failed attempt at increasing reach creates the awkward self-fulfilling prophecy that Internet Marketing doesn’t work in my business.

Russian Proverb: “Trust, but Verify”

The advice is simple, and profound.  With each instance of advertising activity you must build in the process of measuring effectiveness.  Internet Advertising has a distinct advantage over several other forms of advertising: rapid feedback.  I think this is one of the reasons I like to work in the space.

Over time you will come to realize that certain activities produce results and others do not.  The trick in moving forward is to build feedback loops into the campaigns so that your team and clients can understand the effectiveness of the new cost.  Even more importantly, you will have the ability to answer the age old question; Should I advertise here?

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Exceptionalism: Focus on the Never


Firstly, I need to apologize up front that I don’t remember where I got this idea from.  It is not my idea, I have used variations of this exercise in my consulting practice,  but I wanted to pass it along.  One of the problems I have when listening to a host of podcast products  is that at times I am not in a good position to stop and take notes.  This idea I found on either Phil McKinney’s “Killer Innovation” or on a “Venture Voice” interview, but that is a guess at best.

We all need tools to help us think of new ways to solve old problems.  We have a lens that we use to evaluate data as it comes in.  Every so often we find a new lens which helps us provide a breakthrough in performance or understanding.  In this case I wanted to share with you a new way of looking at things with a hope that it produces exceptional results.

Always / Never Brainstorming

This is an excellent team exercise.  I would expect at least two large hanging paper sheets and a pile of sticky notes and some felt tip markers would work nicely.  Here are the steps:

  1. Define the topic or focal point.  Try to be specific.  I prefer these questions NOT be open-ended if possible to make sure you are focused as possible. Here are some example:
    1. “What are the first impressions of our company/organization/church?”
    2. “What’s the last thing people remember about ?????”
    3. “What do people expect when they ????”
    4. “What happens when a person doesn’t ????”
  2. Have the team brainstorm things that ALWAYS happen (Time limit 10 minutes or until the ideas dry up)
  3. Now, have the team identify things that NEVER happen for this topic (Same time limit, and keep the answers relevant)
  4. Take a break – you just spent 20 minutes hurting your brains! (5 minutes)
  5. Nominal Grouping next – spend 5 to 10 minutes  moving the stickies together that are talking about the same thing (duplicate stickies if the idea is relevant to two groupings)
  6. Focus on the Never – now ask the team to come up with ideas that would make the never become a reality and be considered exceptional. (20 minutes)

Innovation Bonus Exercise

Now I did get this great idea from a Phil McKinney podcast as I was driving back from a State Cup soccer tournament.  This is the first time I heard this exercise described this way and should provide you some great ideas and insights.

Our brains are programmed to stop thinking once we think we found the right answer and often we leave ideas in our head and never share them because of this reason.  You as the leader or facilitator need to force your team past this creative barrier.    Here is the bonus exercise:

  1. Have all your nominally grouped ideas placed on a grid.
  2. Each idea group should run across the top of the grid
  3. Each idea group should run down the left side creating a matrix.
  4. In each matrix box, FORCE the team to come up with a new idea.
  5. Use this Hybrid list of ideas for innovative ways to move forward.

The ALWAYS List

This list represents the performance bar that all expect from any organization in the specific category examined.  This list becomes the managers performance list.  The manager will use this list to help identify talents and skills needed by the staff to accomplish these objectives.    Mentoring, training, feedback and possibly team reconfiguration (fire/hire) might be needed to help the team reach the Always Base Level, if they are not already there.  It is imperative that the manager get his team to this level and make sure they stay there.

The NEVER List

The Never list (and Innovation Hybrid List) is used by leadership to determine what the group will take on next.  An assessment needs to be performed first.  Do we have the right talents?  Do the correct skills exist at the right level to take on the new item?  What do we gain by taking on the new item as it relates to our competitors?  How long can we have an advantage before the competitors catch up to us?  And let’s not forget, how much will this cost us?

Marketing Warfare Correlations

Now before I get emails asking me how this relates to Marketing Warfare let me break this down quickly.  This exercise will work for three of the four areas of the strategic squares.   I’ll try and break this down by market position:

Market Leader – you are using this exercise to create a Defensive Marketing Plan.  The goal is to create a moving target for the competitors in your space.   The ultimate object of these  repetitive successes would be to discourage your competitors from attempting direct attacks on your position.

Market Non-Leaders – since you are not using this exercise to attack the leaders weakness within their strength, this exercise should be used in creating a flanking attack and would work best if you focused on an area in which the leader is currently not focusing on.

Local or Regional Leaders – this exercise will produce great ideas for guerrilla marketing warfare plans.    Many of these ideas will place you in a strong competitive advantage to the national companies that cannot respond to the dominance you hold in your local or regional spaces.

Please let me know what you think of this post.  I hope it helps you and your organization.  Your feedback is most welcome!

Good Luck and Good Hunting!

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