Father knows best by Clickfuel’s Denise Cautela

March 12, 2010

Fatherknowsbest Drew's Note:  As I try to do on many a Friday, I'm pleased to bring you a guest post.  Meet a thought leader who shares her insights every day. So without further ado…Denise Cautela.

Again, enjoy!

Father Knows Best: Online Marketing Best Practices from a Small Business Owner

An entrepreneur, my father owned and managed two local retail chains in the 1980s and 1990s.  I grew up in the family business and credit my father with teaching me important customer service, business ethic and product quality values that extend into my current role helping companies manage their online marketing programs.

Even then, my father’s business practices were considered “old school.” He demanded we count change back directly to customers instead of relying on the cash register; he would not close the store until the very last customer was ready to leave (even if it was well past closing time); and he insisted that we manually count inventory monthly because computers were not foolproof and the numbers in the dot matrix printed reports could be wrong.

While these business practices may seem a little “dated,” the underlying philosophy was an important life lesson and provided the foundation for my own best practices for online marketing today:

Be loyal to your customers and they will be loyal to you

  • My father always made a point of building a strong connection with the local customer base.  In today’s market, we have a variety of inexpensive and easy-to-use Web 2.0 tools at our fingertips to spark and maintain a dialogue—and strengthen bonds with customers.  Tap Social media vehicles like Facebook Fan Pages to build connections and stay ahead of new trends by listening to what your customers have to say and what they want.
  • Be honest on your website, landing pages and email campaigns.  Clearly explain your business, what you offer and the value your product or service provides customers. Same goes for information you provide for any blogs or RSS feeds. Full transparency and honesty builds a level of trust with existing and prospective customers that can result in up sell opportunities and referrals, and of course, keep your customers coming back.

Make it easy for your customers to find you

  • Smart Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaigns put your product or service directly in front of those looking for you. It is the most direct, cost effective way to advertise on the Internet today.
  • List your business in as many online directories as possible. These directories are like signs pointing to your website in front of people driving by.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) done right can indirectly pull people into your website and help improve where your business appears on search engine result pages.

You have one chance to make a good first impression

  • Each one of my Dad’s stores had a distinct look and feel, and products strategically placed for easy access. How your website or landing page look, and the ease of use/navigation is critical. You may only have one chance to make that good first impression—make sure it counts.

Denise Cautela, VP of Marketing at ClickFuel, has nearly 15 years of experience in a wide range of strategic marketing and communication roles. A multiple award winning marketer, Denise is responsible for building out the ClickFuel brand, generating new business and strategically supporting the channel and direct sales efforts. Before joining ClickFuel, Denise was with Monster Worldwide for more than five years in a variety of leadership roles, most recently Sr. Director of Marketing, Emerging Markets.

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5 questions that will lead you to true word of mouth (Andy Sernovitz)

December 9, 2009

Cover of "Word of Mouth Marketing: How Sm...Cover via Amazon

Word of mouth is bigger than tools like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. It's more than viral videos, expensive campaigns, and big PR stunts. Real word of mouth is a philosophy, not a tactic.

True word of mouth marketers know it's about earning the respect and recommendation of your customers — it's something you build into everything you do. The next time somebody tries to sell you on a high-dollar digital campaign, remember that real love is earned, not bought.

5 big questions that will lead you to true word of mouth:

1.) Who will talk about us?

Every successful word of mouth program begins with a focus on who will talk about you. It's not always your customers. Don't forget industry influencers, your strategic partners, your neighbors — they're all potential talkers and they're where it all starts.

2.) How do I take this beyond the marketing department?

The mission of earning the respect and recommendation of your customers shouldn't be confined to the marketing team. When it's a company-wide philosophy — when everyone from the CEO to the front-line customer service reps are working together to astonish customers with amazing products and services — that's when you're on your way to building real word of mouth.

3.) What's next?

This helps you determine the difference between a one-off stunt and a program that's got long-term potential to build relationships. Word of mouth works best when it's designed to build momentum with each new loyal fan you earn.

4.) Would this trick my mother?

Scam-ball, sleaze-filled trickery is not the way to earn love from customers. Hiding relationships between you and your talkers, paying for reviews that aren't true, setting up fake accounts to hide your identity — it's not only unethical, it's illegal. If your mom were to read something and not understand that it's a paid ad, you're lying to your mother.

5.) Would anyone tell a friend about this?

This is a question that changes companies. Put it on a sticky note on your monitor, a poster in your conference room — anywhere it will remind you to ask that if it's not worth telling a friend about, why are you doing it?

Andy Sernovitz is the author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking and is CEO of GasPedal , a company that teaches word of mouth to brands of all sizes.

PS Want to learn more about earning the respect and recommendation of your customers? Join Andy and 30 other brilliant word of mouth marketers for Word of Mouth Supergenius <http://gaspedal.com/supergenius>  on December 16 in Chicago. Marketing Minute fans can take $128 off registration with the code: THISGUYDREWRULES

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Present like Steve Jobs (Carmine Gallo)

December 4, 2009

Stevejobs Drew's Note:  As I try to do on many a Friday, I'm pleased to bring you a guest post.  Meet a thought leader who shares his insights every day. So without further ado…Carmine Gallo.

Again, enjoy!

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is considered one of the greatest marketers in corporate history. For more than three decades, he has delivered legendary keynote presentations, raised product launches to an art form and successfully communicated the benefits of Apple products to millions of customers. Whether you're in sales, marketing, advertising or public relations, Steve Jobs has something to teach you about telling your brand story.

Plan in analog. Steve Jobs may have made a name for himself in the digital world, but he prepares presentations in the old world of pen and paper. He brainstorms, sketches and draws on whiteboards. Before a new iPhone, iPod or MacBook is introduced, the Apple team decides on the exact messages (aka, benefits) to communicate.

Those messages are consistent across all marketing platforms: presentations, Web sites, advertisements, press releases, and even the banners than are unfurled after Jobs' keynote.

Create Twitter-friendly headlines. Can you describe your product or service in 140 characters? Steve Jobs offers a headline, or description, for every product. Each headline can easily fit in a Twitter post.

For example, when he introduced the MacBook Air in January, 2008, he said that it is simply, "The world's thinnest notebook." You could visit the Apple Web site for more information, but if that's all you knew, it would tell you a lot. If your product description cannot fit in a Twitter post, keep refining.

Introduce the antagonist. In every classic story, the hero fights the villain. The same holds true for a Steve Jobs presentation. In 1984, the villain was IBM, "Big Blue." Before he introduced the famous 1984 ad to a group of Apple salespeople, he created a dramatic story around it. "IBM wants it all," he said. Apple would be the only company to stand in its way. It was very dramatic and the crowd went nuts.

Branding expert, Martin Lindstrom, has said that great brands and religions have something in common: the idea of vanquishing a shared enemy. Creating a villain allows the audience to rally around the hero — you, your ideas and your product.

Stick to the rule of three. The human brain can only absorb three or four "chunks" of information at any one time. Neuroscientists are finding that if you give your listeners too many pieces of information to retain, they won't remember a thing. It's uncanny, but every Steve Jobs presentation is divided into three parts.

On September 9, 2009, when Jobs returned to the world stage after a medical leave of absence, he told the audience that he had three things to discuss: iPhone, iTunes and iPods. Jobs even has fun with the rule of three. In January, 2007, he told the audience he had "three revolutionary" products to introduce — an iPod, a phone and an Internet communicator. After repeating the list several times he said, "Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. They are one device and we are calling it iPhone!"

Strive for simplicity. Apple chief design architect, Jonathan Ive, said Apple's products are easy to use because of the elimination of clutter. The same philosophy applies to Apple's marketing and sales material.

For example, there are forty words on the average PowerPoint slide. It's difficult to find ten words in one dozen Apple slides. Most of Steve Jobs' slides are visuals — photographs or images. When are there words, they are astonishingly sparse. For example, in January, 2008, Jobs was delivering his Macworld keynote and began the presentation by thanking his customers for making 2007 a successful year for Apple. The slide behind Jobs simply read "Thank you." Steve Jobs tells the Apple story. The slides compliment the story.

Reveal a "Holy Smokes" moment. People will forget what you said, what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. There's always one moment in a Steve Jobs presentation that is the water cooler moment, the one part of the presentation that everyone will be talking about. These show stoppers are completely scripted ahead of time.

For example, when Jobs unveiled the MacBook Air, what do people remember? They recall that he removed the computer from an inter-office envelope. It's the one moment from Macworld 2008 that everyone who watched it — and those who read about — seem to recall. The image of a computer sliding in an envelope was immediately unveiled in Apple ads and on the Apple website. The water cooler moment had run according to plan.

Sell dreams, not products. Great leaders cultivate a sense of mission among their employees and customers. Steve Jobs' mission is to change the world, to put a "dent in the universe." According to Jobs, "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to do great work is to love what you do."

True evangelists are driven by a messianic zeal to create new experiences. When he launched the iPod in 2001, Jobs said, "In our own small way we're going to make the world a better place." Where most people see the iPod as a music player, Jobs sees it as tool to enrich people's lives. It's important to have great products, of course, but passion, enthusiasm and emotion will set you apart.

Carmine Gallo is the author of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience, (click here to buy the book) is a presentation, media-training, and communication-skills coach for the world's most admired brands. He is an author and columnist for Businessweek.com and and a keynote speaker and seminar leader who has appeared on CNBC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC.com, BNET, RedBook, Forbes.com, and in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Investor's Business Daily, as well as many other media outlets.

Every Friday is "grab the mic" day.  Want to grab the mic and be a guest blogger on Drew's Marketing Minute?  Shoot me an e-mail.

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Note:  In keeping with the new FCC regulations, you should know that I received a copy of Gallo's book to review and if you click on the link to purchase the book, I will make a few cents from Amazon.  You might also be interested in knowing that I am left handed.


Don’t get brand sabotaged (Todd Hogan)

November 25, 2009

Shutterstock_32560171 Drew's Note:  As I try to do on many a Friday (or Thanksgiving Wednesday!), I'm pleased to bring you a guest post.  Meet a thought leader who shares his insights every day. So without further ado…Todd Hogan.

Again, enjoy!

Monitoring your brand online can be a serious effort – the number of channels and outlets you need to track, the anonymity of potential brand attackers or even promoters, the speed with which fallacious information can spread and ruin the value of what would have once been a carefully planned and thoughtful brand approach.

It all makes for a challenge if you want to build your brand and not watch it be built for you (to either your detriment OR benefit).  I think that's what Drew was talking about in this post re: fear.

To do a good job keeping abreast of your brand and promoting your brand's champions or quickly responding to brand threats, you could use paid real time monitoring services like biz360 or radian6. They make sense if you do have a very large brand – they can be great tools. But what if you aren't ready to spend the big bucks yet still want to influence the direction your brand is taking online?

At real time search engines like Surchur (here are some others for you to check out) you can track the majority of what you'd find on the elite brand monitoring services – all for free. Here are 3 tips to using a real time search engine to keep your brand image well above board:

Daily monitoring: Because the real time web is just that – real time – and it moves very quickly, waiting a week or two to check on your brand can be a disaster.

It's much better to respond to a potential threat with a real conversation (a topic for another post) immediately rather than weeks after a comment, tweet or post has lambasted your latest campaign. Enter your brand in a real time search engine a la this Nike example and see your brand as it is happening on the web. You'll likely be surprised where your brand is turning up.

Keep on top of all media types: Blogs, tweets, news, videos – they can all be an outlet for customer expression, and a place for your brand to find life or possibly get squeezed.

That's why we recommend you do more than just look at Twitter Search or your favorite blog search engine. Your customers will communicate according to their preferences and never fit into the neat little box we'd all like. Make sure to find a real time search approach that gives you a view on as many online methods as possible.

Automate the process: Though many of us can be disciplined and take the time everyday to check our brand, it helps to put in place an automatic method for being brand informed.

If your favorite real time search engine has an RSS feed you can follow add that to your favorite RSS reader or homepage like Netvibes. Make that your start page so that every time you open your browser you'll get the chance to see how you?re being talked about on the web. You can see an example at surchur using our previous example of Nike by visiting this link and see how quickly you can get a summary with a feed reader or feed enabled homepage.

Take your brand seriously and build it by managing the real time discussions that are taking place about you – not letting your worst detractors destroy your image with a few random tweets, posts or comments. Also with Surchur's newly released social platform it's easier for our users to influence the search results by voting or commenting — engage the surchur community to vote your brand up and establish yourself as a positive contributor on the social web.

Todd Hogan is the founder of surchur.com and builds and manages a large portfolio of social media and search websites in collaboration with designers and developers around the world.

Every Friday is "grab the mic" day.  Want to grab the mic and be a guest blogger on Drew's Marketing Minute?  Shoot me an e-mail.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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Are You Ready for Virtual Events? (Dennis Shiao)

September 4, 2009

InXpoLiveexhibit Drew's Note:  As I try to do every Friday, I'm pleased to bring you a guest post.  Meet a thought leader who shares his insights every day. So without further ado…Dennis Shiao.

Again, enjoy!

The recent economic situation is providing a catalyst for companies to look at cost-effective alternatives to meet and hold events. This, combined with reduced travel and marketing budgets, is giving rise to “virtual events.” From a marketing perspective, a virtual event is a cost-effective way to communicate and engage with partners, customers and prospects. This also presents a great opportunity for marketers to stand out. A successful virtual event strategy reduces costs, increases productivity, extends reach, provides rich data intelligence, and benefits the environment. To successfully implement a virtual events strategy, there are five questions to consider first:

What is your strategy?
Most companies are simply extending their physical events by adding a virtual component, or in some cases, replacing physical events with virtual events entirely.  We advocate that companies strategically look at their overall events program and what makes sense based on their objectives and audience. The strategy can include a mix of physical-only, virtual-only, or a combination of both (hybrid).

Who are you reaching?
Consider who you’re seeking to target with the virtual event, such as customers, partners, employees or prospects, and their level of technology sophistication and literacy. These factors will dictate how you communicate, educate and drive your audiences to the virtual event. For example, a solution with no downloads is a lower barrier to entry than one that requires a download.

Do you have the right staff?
One misconception is that a virtual event is easier and quicker to produce than a physical event. While you eliminate certain aspects of the planning process, such as travel, a physical venue, and lodging, a virtual event is still an event. You want to ensure that you have the right staff to promote and drive attendance, to sign up vendors, partners or other types of exhibitors to participate, and to manage the process from beginning to end.

Do you have the right virtual event platform technology?
Depending on your needs and your audience’s technology aptitude, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right virtual event platform technology. This includes a platform that is flexible enough to grow with your needs, including audience size, reliability and integration with third-party Web 2.0 technologies and other applications. Furthermore, an integrated reporting backend is critical for rich data intelligence and tracking, as well as to generate detailed reports and lead score report cards to accelerate your sales pipeline.

Do you have executive buy-in?
Though virtual events have experienced tremendous growth over the past few months, their adoption by corporate marketers is only just beginning. Securing executive buy-in or aligning a business owner with an inaugural virtual event program provides a mandate from above to proceed with the program, including budget allocation and staffing. While you may not be able to answer yes to all of these questions, the above provides you with key success factors for implementing virtual events as part of your marketing program.

Dennis Shiao is Client Services Executive with InXpo and author of “It’s All Virtual,” and is a frequent writer on virtual events, virtual worlds, virtual trade shows, virtual meetings and more. He counsels corporations on their virtual strategies.

Every Friday is "grab the mic" day.  Want to grab the mic and be a guest blogger on Drew's Marketing Minute?  Shoot me an e-mail.

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Are you making or breaking trust in your marketing? (Vanessa Hall)

August 28, 2009

Shutterstock_35924824 Drew's Note:  As I try to do every Friday, I'm pleased to bring you a guest post.  Meet a thought leader who shares her insights every day. So without further ado…Vanessa Hall.  Again. Enjoy!

Vanessa has made a special offer for readers of this blog: Download the 7 truths every marketing and branding person needs to know ebook by clicking here.

In marketing your products and services you have the power to make or break trust. The reality is you are doing most of it inadvertently.

Imagine if you could actually build trust deliberately with your target market? Here are 7 key things that you need to know about trust:

1. Marketing is a maker or breaker of trust

Trust is fundamentally our ability to rely on people, organisations, products and/or services to deliver an outcome to us.

Marketing creates Expectations in the minds of the market, taps into their Needs, and makes a heap of Promises both implicitly and explicitly. It’s on these three things, what I call ENPs®, that your customers trust. It’s what they rely on.

Meet ENPs and you have their trust. Break them and you lose their trust.

2. Their Expectations of you may have nothing to do with you.

Expectations come from lots of different places. While you can use your marketing to create Expectations, if you are in an industry that gets hammered in the media (eg Banking), they already have Expectations of you that have nothing to do with you and everything to do with what other people tell them.

3. You must know your market’s needs

Your market has basic Needs for survival, for safety and security, for love and belonging, for esteem and respect, and for creativity and freedom. Good old Maslow1 is hard to go by when we look at Needs, and marketers are aware of these.

Most people are driven by one core Need in most of their buying and relationship decisions across the board.

Know what your market’s Needs are, and meet them.

4. Your implicit Promises will catch you out

You make a lot of Promises in your marketing. Promises can be explicit or implicit. The explicit ones are usually the ones that everyone knows about, and that your organisation will, most times, back you up on.

But the implicit, suggested ones, like ‘everyone smiles in our store’ (because on the ad everyone looks friendly and happy), are the ones that catch you out.

When your customers or potential customers don’t experience what was implied to them, they don’t even bother complaining, but they don’t buy, either!

5. You cannot do it alone

Too many times I’ve seen great marketing and branding fall flat because the rest of the organisation didn’t back it up. ‘We put weeks into that campaign. We had a significant increase in enquiries, but *&%$# customer service let us down.’

You have to all work together. The customer doesn’t care who in the organisation was to blame. You’ve just broken their trust.

Work with sales, back office, customer service, whoever needs to deliver on the ENPs you’ve just put out to the market.

6. ENPs = ROI

Meet the Expectations and Needs of your market, and keep the Promises you make to them and you WILL improve your ROI. It IS as simple as that!

7. You must have trust if you’re going to extend your brand

Seriously, don’t even bother trying to create a brand extension if you have not secured the trust of your market. When your customers truly trust you, they’ll buy it without too much convincing (as long as you still meet their ENPs). You don’t have to spend as much on your marketing if you have their trust.

Trust is powerful, but it’s also fragile. Get it right, and enjoy the results!

Vanessa Hall is one of the world’s leading experts on trust. Her practical models for trust are gaining global acclaim. She’s as passionate as they come, loves speaking and writing about trust, but most of all, loves watching the amazing results her work has on organisations, individuals and communities around the world.

The truth about trust in business – How to enrich the bottom line, improve retention and build valuable relationships for success is available now in the US.

Every Friday is "grab the mic" day.  Want to grab the mic and be a guest blogger on Drew's Marketing Minute?  Shoot me an e-mail.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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“Not Safe For Work” Chief Reputation Officers & Other Executive Excess (Freddy Nager)

August 7, 2009

Shutterstock_1645199 Drew's Note:  As I try to do every Friday, I'm pleased to bring you a guest post.  Meet a thought leader who shares his insights with clients every day. So without further ado…Freddy Nager.  Again. Enjoy!

Not since Sarah Palin claimed "executive experience" has anything this silly been uttered about top management.

I recently met a consultant who argued that all corporations should have a "Chief Reputation Officer." The CRO's responsibility would be to monitor, protect and promote the company's reputation. I noted that this consultant was a "reputation specialist" by trade, so I detected a little self-promotion going on.

Now, I won't begrudge anyone a good job in this economy. We should all aspire to higher responsibilities and rewards, particularly if they include health care with dental.

I also agree that corporations should manage their reputations as diligently as they manage their money. While the consultant and I debated, Microsoft unleashed an ad nicknamed "OMGIGP" for "Oh My God I'm Gonna Puke."  Really. The ad featured a woman vomiting. Microsoft quickly withdrew the ad after bloggers and consumers broke into protest and ridicule.

Hmm, maybe the Jerry Seinfeld spots weren't so bad after all…

So, yes, Microsoft tossed its reputation to the curb. But would appointing yet another exec at a top-heavy corporation make a difference or even marketing sense?

Imagine investor response to hiring yet another C-level exec just to monitor reputation — particularly since a company's reputation should be the responsibility of every executive, board member, and employee. True, a "czar" could help manage reputation matters, but that person already exists: the Chief Marketing Officer (or VP/Director of Marketing). If your CMO isn't managing your reputation, time to send 'em packing.

Reputation is part of a company's brand, and branding is to marketers what money is to financiers. It runs in their veins. They eat it for dinner. It's their job. Hiring a CRO in addition to a CMO is completely redundant — and a recipe for corporate politics from hell. (Never spur rivalries between execs capable of writing lethal emails.)

I've also heard of other contrived marketing positions, such as VP of Branding Strategy and Image Officer. They can nuance their job descriptions to perfection, but they simply add another layer of bureaucracy. Such jobs would entail reviewing every communication, product and policy before public release, and predicting how they'll be received by customers, employees, shareholders, the media, the community, etc.

Once again, the job of the CMO.

Now, if you don't already have a marketing exec, your company is only running on three legs. In that case, your President, ad agency, or publicist should oversee reputation. A CRO? No, not even if you have money to burn.

As a marketer who teaches aspiring marketers, I love seeing more opportunities in marketing, but contrived executive positions only hurt a company's brand — almost as much as commercials of women puking.

Freddy J. Nager runs the L.A.-based marketing agency Atomic Tango and blogs at Cool Rules Pronto.  Over his 20-year career, he has directed campaigns for agencies Saatchi & Saatchi and Magnet Interactive, and for such clients as MCA Records, Nissan & Infiniti, and numerous startups. Freddy holds a BA from Harvard and an MBA from USC, and teaches marketing at Antioch University and the University of Wales/Robert Kennedy College.

Every Friday is "grab the mic" day.  Want to grab the mic and be a guest blogger on Drew's Marketing Minute?  Shoot me an e-mail.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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3 for 3 goals: Focus on what will grow your business (Susan Clements)

July 31, 2009

Shutterstock_34242238 Drew's Note:  As I try to do every Friday, I'm pleased to bring you a guest post.  Meet a thought leader who shares her insights with clients every day. So without further ado…Susan Clements.  Again. Enjoy!

"Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction."

– Kenichi Ohmae

It’s easy to create activity – it’s harder to create the right activity, the activity that ensures your business is growing and taking you in the right direction.  To ensure you’re focusing on the activity that will grow your business, provide outstanding results for your clients and keep you headed in the right direction, consider the following vital activities:

Create Clarity:
Clearly identify the result you want for your business three years in the future.  You need to craft a story that passionately communicates where your business will be in three years.  If you can’t passionately describe where you want to be, then you won’t be able to enlist others to take the journey with you.  Your clients, accountant, banker, employees and community need to know what you’re about and where you’re going…if you want them to come along!

Set Short Term Goals (Three for Three):
Take each of your clearly defined three year goals and describe what needs to happen in three time frames:

  1. this year,
  2. this quarter, and
  3. this month! 

If your goal is to have 75 new clients at the end of three years, then you need to identify the activities that will get you at least 25 new clients this year, 6 new clients each quarter and 2 new clients each month.  This means you need to have an activity plan!  Your activity needs to be CONSISTENT and you need to be PERSISTENT in following your activity plan.

The right activity will bring in the right clients – the wrong activity may keep you busy and yield no clients or (even worse) lead you to clients that will keep you busy, but not help you grow your business.  For example a bi-monthly presentation or workshop for members of a local club for entrepreneurs may keep you busy however you might discover that the club demographics are mainly start up businesses directing their finances into their business, without the resources to invest. 

Your activity plan should be directed to a market that fits your most probable customer, the customer most likely to use your services and have both the ability and desire to engage with you.   Do your research and make sure the prospects you are spending your precious lead generation time with would be the clients that will help you grow your business.

Quantify Your Progress Weekly:
Set aside one hour each week to track your progress towards your Three for Three goals and redefine your activity plan.  In order for your business to accomplish the three year result you have identified you must be engaged in the right activities to continue to take your business in the right direction.  A weekly check in will allow you to quantify your past week results, make adjustments and ensure you are taking the right actions!

Susan Clements is Executive Director and co-owner of E-Myth Benchmark, a business coaching company serving businesses in the United States, the Caribbean, Canada, and the UK.  Susan has designed a revolutionary coach training and delivery system that tools E-Myth Benchmark coaches to actively engage in results based coaching with business owners, leaders and managers that result in greater freedom and flexibility.  E-Myth Benchmark provides E-Myth Mastery Impact™ business coaching, business management and leadership workshops, trainings and seminars.  Contact Susan at www.e-mythcoaching.com or sclements@e-mythcoaching.com

Every Friday is "grab the mic" day.  Want to grab the mic and be a guest blogger on Drew's Marketing Minute?  Shoot me an e-mail.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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Five ways to manage customer loyalty (Timothy Keiningham & Lerzan Aksoy)

July 10, 2009

Shutterstock_31436179 Drew's Note:  As I try to do every Friday, I'm pleased to bring you a guest post.  Meet two thought leaders who shares their insights via the blogosphere. So without further ado…Timothy Keiningham and Lerzan Aksoy.  Again. Enjoy!

Managers are typically taught to things that can be easily quantified and reported on a balance sheet. Stop for a moment to answer this fundamental question: "What is the purpose of any business?” On the face of it, this question seems pretty easy to answer. Most managers would answer: "To make a profit."

But that's the wrong answer. Profits are an outcome. They only tell us if our business strategy and execution are viable.

Peter Drucker, widely considered the father of modern management, argued that the common belief that creating profits was purpose of a business was not only wrong, but harmful. It causes us to make bad business decisions and lose sight of those things that delight customers. He summed up the actual purpose of business this way: "There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer."

The mark of success for a firm, and therefore the ultimate objective of its strategy, is to satisfy customer needs and wants at a sustainable profit. Whatever strategy and tactics we employ to gain competitive advantage must ultimately be based upon our profitably providing a better solution for customers.

Managing Customers as Assets

Customers are the ultimate asset for all profit-making organizations. They provide all of a company's real value. Paradoxically, customers are one of the few aspects of a business that are not managed as an investment. This oversight negatively impacts profits in multiple ways, including inefficient resource allocation (via suboptimal company-customer interactions); product design and launch failures (via poor fit with customer needs); and unstable cash flows (via increased customer defections and price sensitivity).

Therefore, if customers are the primary asset, the ultimate aim of any business strategy should be to maximize the net present value (NPV) of customers to the firm. While on its face such a statement may seem academic, this is much more than a theoretical maxim. Researchers consistently find firms that adopt a customer lifetime value framework for customer selection and resource allocation strategy significantly outperform their competitors in profits and shareholder value.

But this doesn't just happen. It requires the successful integration of all areas of management — accounting, finance, marketing, operations, and human resources — in profitably addressing the needs of customers. Below is a good place for us to begin.

Accounting. Analyze the profitability of your customers. Research conducted by the Harvard Business School finds that most customers for most firms do not produce an acceptable rate of return (i.e., they are not profitable). In fact, for most companies, the top 20 percent of customers in terms of profitability produce all of a company's profits, the middle 60 percent break even, and the bottom 20 percent lose the company money. Paradoxically, revenue is a terrible predictor of customer profitability. The highest revenue customers tend to be the most profitable or the least profitable.

Managers need this information to effectively run their businesses. They need to know who their profitable customers are and what behaviors are associated with profitability.

Finance. Incorporate customer metrics in your financial models when making investment decisions. When prioritizing investment decisions, pay attention to the projected impact on the future value of customers to the business. Analysts cannot consistently beat (or even meet) the market — in the language of finance, they don't add alpha. Research finds that this is because intangibles that reflect the strength of the company-customer relationship are excluded.

For example, analysts are generally skeptical of the impact that customer satisfaction has on a company's market value. Analysts tend to view customer satisfaction information as "soft" data because they don't understand how satisfaction data links to a company's bottom line. Because it is intangible, they frequently regard it as a money drain.

Our own research found that incorporating customer satisfaction into standard models used in investment finance significantly improved the ability to pick winners versus losers. And the winners dramatically outperformed the market by 2 to 1.

Marketing. Put more focus on current customers. Marketing activity has largely focused on persuasion — the ability of the company to change someone's attitudes or behavior. And while that is a critical role of marketing, too often this gets translated into simply persuading someone to try something for the first time. An old saying goes, "A good salesman can sell anything once. The trick is getting them to buy again."

But it is not as simple as focusing on customer retention either (i.e., getting them to come back). Today, customers buy competing products from multiple companies with seemingly no real loyalty. In other words, customers divide their wallets among competitors.

Consequently, one of the most important elements in improving financial performance is getting customers to allocate a larger share of their wallets to the firm. A McKinsey study found that focusing on share of wallet had a 10 times greater impact than focusing on retention alone. Research demonstrates that the strongest driver of share of wallet is customer loyalty.

Therefore, the primary goal of marketing must be the creation of loyal, long-term customers out of first-time or occasional buyers. Accomplishing this requires a clear understanding of what makes customers want to be loyal. Gathering and understanding customer needs is the job of marketing.

Operations. Make certain that company-defined quality and customer-perceived quality are aligned. Because operations are often focused on the creation and distribution of products and services, there is a natural tendency for managers to focus on meeting technical specifications.

While the quality movement of the 1980s has done a great deal to establish standards of technical excellence, we have a long way to go to achieve user-defined excellence. It matters little if a firm is meeting its internal guidelines if these are disconnected from the customer.

We must always remember that the customer did not design the process, and they don't care that the system we have designed makes our lives easier. It needs to make customers' lives easier. So when designing and implementing any process, we need to experience the offering as customers do (i.e., shop our own stores).

Human Resources. Establish a climate for service in the organization. By service climate, we mean the procedures and behaviors that get rewarded and supported within the company with regard to customer service . Research consistently demonstrates that service climate is positively linked with lower turnover, higher customer satisfaction, and improved financial performance.

While we all pay lip service to the importance of employees in serving customers, too often we manage in terms of their operational productivity at the exclusion of all else. How many employee evaluations actually include customer metrics as part of the formal criteria? The reality is that most employees are rewarded for completing tasks. Few, however, are rewarded for making customers happy.

A Holistic Strategy

Too often we as managers think about strategy in terms of our own functional area: marketing strategy, operations strategy, finance strategy, etc. But each of these strategies should exist as part of a holistic company strategy. A winning strategy focuses everyone in the organization to come together for one cause: to profitably create and keep a customer.

Timothy Keiningham is a world-renowned authority in the field of loyalty measurement and management, and Global Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President for Ipsos Loyalty, one of the world’s largest business research organizations.

Lerzan Aksoy is an acclaimed expert in the science of loyal management, and Associate Professor of Marketing at Fordham University. They are coauthors of a new book, with Luke Williams, entitled Why Loyalty Matters and creators of LoyaltyAdvisor, a web-based tool that analyzes your loyalty across multiple dimensions proven to link to your success. LoyaltyAdvisor is the product of a global effort, the most comprehensive study of loyalty ever conducted.

Every Friday is "grab the mic" day.  Want to grab the mic and be a guest blogger on Drew's Marketing Minute?  Shoot me an e-mail.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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Marketing is Publishing and Why it Matters (Joe Pulizzi)

June 12, 2009

Pulizzi0071625747(2) Drew's Note:  As I try to do every Friday, I'm pleased to bring you a guest post.  Meet another  thought leader who shares his insights via the blogosphere. So without further ado…Joe Pulizzi.  Again. Enjoy!

I can’t tell the difference between publishing and marketing anymore. That’s a good thing.

When people refer to HomeMadeSimple.com from P&G, they say, “now that’s engaging marketing.” Hmm, I think publishing.

When social media experts say that the people at Blendtec (willitblend.com) are great marketers, I say first-rate publishers.

Let’s face it, we are all publishers now whether we like it or not. Just look at your laundry list of marketing tactics. Looks an awful lot like publishing.

But what does it really mean to be a publisher in today’s social media environment?

When you boil it down, publishing is simple to explain:

  • First, define a critical group of buyers (your customers/prospects).
  • Second, determine what information they really need and how they want to receive it (not your sales and marketing content…valuable, compelling content…that solves their pain points).
  • Third, deliver that critical info to that core group of buyers in the way they want it.
  • Fourth, continually measure how well you’re doing and adjust as you go.

For a publisher (in the traditional sense), success means selling lots of ads or subscriptions.

For a marketer who begins to think like a publisher, success means attracting and retaining customers. We do that by creating and delivering consistent and valuable content to our customers that positions us as experts, and that people ultimately want to share (through social media).

So let’s get practical.  What are some things that you, the marketing professional, need to be thinking about now that you are a publisher? Here’s three:

  1. Where are the content assets in your organization that provide the editorial information for your content/publishing strategy? Do you need a content audit?
  2. Do you have experts in your organization that can write from a journalistic perspective? This is not features/benefits content. It needs to be the best of the best on the topic you are writing based on your marketing goal. If it's not the best, can you honestly position yourself as the expert and build relationships through your content? Hire a turnkey content provider or journalist to help you that understands this. Quality content counts! Remember, good enough is not good enough anymore.
  3. Who owns the content strategy in your organization? Where is that individual at – marketing, PR, communications? Without ownership, creating a consistent message to your individual customer segments is a challenge at best.

If you aren’t sure about this whole “publishing” thing yet, I urge you to download this free excerpt to my book.

Joe Pulizzi is co-author of Get Content Get Customers, the original handbook for content marketing success.  Joe is also founder of Junta42 (called the eHarmony for content), a free service for marketers that matches them up with the best turnkey content providers based on their specific project needs. Get regular content marketing updates from Joe on Twitter @juntajoe.

Every Friday is "grab the mic" day.  Want to grab the mic and be a guest blogger on Drew's Marketing Minute?  Shoot me an e-mail.

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