Category Archives: Marketing

How marketing is just like being a pirate lad…

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In another blog entry, I wrote about a lad in the 1700’s whose elders decided was best suited to be a pirate. That lad was reborn and went to one of the best Chinese hacking schools that existed. Then, he learned the art of market disruption and did startups for a while. After a few years of failed startups, he had his first success — but, the venture capitalists took everything he made. The boy was angry because after all — he was the one who was supposed to be the pirate. But, I guess there is no honor among thieves.

After that, the young man decided that what he really liked was trying to do the modern equivalent of being a pirate like what he was in the 1700’s. He would shoot at other people’s boats. Swing over to their boat on a rope, fight them with swords, tie them up, plunder their gold and other valuables, and then set the ship on fire and watch it burn! His favorite part was waiting til the fire hit the powder kegs and watching the entire ship explode! Arr laddie! Twas a sight to be seen!

So, the man quit the startup business and went into mergers. He drank rum, sang pirate songs and coordinated mergers where the managers of the firm being bought out would all be fired and would go down with the ship. He went a step farther to hire a graphic designer to create graphics of the managers going down with a ship with a flag of their company. He enjoyed this career immensely. Then, he went into marketing for a while and enjoyed finding artful ways to steal the clients from particular businesses and watch them go bankrupt. Arr — the pleasure can’t be beat, even with two pints of rum!

In any case, this is a silly article, but hope you had fun reading it. It’s fun to think about what people would do if they were reincarnated into another time. I was actually a warrior in many of my earlier lives, but I evolved into a healer. From killing people to healing people — what a transition in my soul’s evolution. I no longer do Native American healing like I did in my shaman past lives. But, I do healing on myself. However, the warrior past lives from way back — several thousand years back in many cases seem to help me out in my business career. Business is like war. It’s hard to keep the troops together. So, defeating the enemy is one goal, but keeping your troops loyal these days is an even harder goal.

Ann Handley’s writing style and why it works

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If you have ever visited, you will quickly realize that they make masterful marketing simple and understandable to the masses. Marketingprofs handles a wide variety of popular marketing and social media topics that concern us all such as: How to write a better title for our sales emails or ways for marketers to be more data driven.

One of the aspects of the writing style which I like the most is that it is easy to digest. The writing is in clear English and no decyphering is necessary. Another thing that is cute is the constant integration of themes about puppies, kitties, snacks, desserts, childhood, or other relatable themes. It is much more pleasant to read an article that has themes you can not only relate to, but that make you feel good.

Additionally, there are many graphics, charts, and other visual aids that make the reading experience more three-dimensional. Right now, I’m reading a chart about how people express laughter online. Haha wins the game with 51.4% of the total laughter while lol only is getting 1.9%? Could this really be true? Of course emoji’s often follow the verbalization of the laughter. Next, the age of the laughers was analyze in yet another chart. As a marketer I find all of this analysis very interesting — and that is no joke — lol-not!

I’m reading another article about how to woo bloggers into long term relationships to promote your brand. What I’m seeing in this article is something I saw a long time ago — subheaders. The subheaders here all have a very simple type of grammar which I have found tends to make it easier for readers to stick on the page mentally. People who spend too much time online get mentally frazzled and have some degree of ADD. Here are some of the subheaders used:

1. Identify your audience
2. Find the right bloggers
3. Create a real relationship
4. Help bloggers to grow
5. Understand what motivates each blogger
6. Show respect
7. Live up to your commitments

As you can see, each subheader starts with a simple verb in the imperative conjugation. Then, a unique continuation of the sentence fragment follows. Not all of the verbs are calls for aggressive action. Some are more introspective like understanding and some are more philosophical or philanthropical like helping others to grow. I particularly like the point about living up to your commitments as many people in social media do not publish links on time (me included although I always do it) and many others are in such a hurry to get their link that they will disrespect you (point 7 on the list) if the link doesn’t go up in lightening speed even if the link wasn’t spelled out clearly in the text of the email.

What I don’t like about marketingprofs is that they password protect their blog. If you don’t login you can only see half of the text of each article — the top half which omits the bottom line (haha.) I have so many passwords for different accounts I had to use the password retrieval feature today just to get in. Also, their focus is very narrow. It is completely focused on marketing while I would prefer a small amount of diversion into the world of business, entrepreneurship, startups, and other types of business articles that I love so much to read.

But, in any case. Marketingprofs can take you to a deeper level of understanding about online marketing and social media and especially content creation. They create content in a fun and relatable way. I hope you visit their blog and enjoy it. Anyway, thanks for reading my article — hehe☺☺

Why email sales promotions don’t work as well as cold calling

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As a marketer, I try all different ways of having promotions. I have tried cold calling, email newsletter marketing, auto-calling, having assistants call for me, and more. Each method of contacting people has its benefits. However, certain types of contacts are best made on particular mediums.

In August 2015, I called a few thousand people about upgrade specials on our directory. We were basically selling advertising. Roughly 5% of the people I talked to upgraded. I felt so happy that I was able to make more than seven dozen sales. Then, I decided to take advantage of the automated technology that I am paying for. After I sent out my newsletter blast which reached about 4500 people, I got a few dozen inquiries for quotes. I spent an hour giving quotes, but only three bought something. My automated system actually cost me a lot of time doing quotes, but without a result.

Cold calling got me 4x the new sales per lead compared to emailing quotes…

I also recall that a month ago, my assistant called a bunch of people for me. They wanted quotes too. I gave ten quotes by email to people who claimed they were interested and only one of them bought something. The lesson I am learning is that when a client actually talks to a salesperson who knows the product well, they are more likely to buy. When I talked to clients personally by phone I was able to sell to about 40% of them. However, the purchase rate of clients who got an email quote from us was only 10%.

So, what is the moral to this story? The best system I had for sales was to have my assistant sit in the same room with me and filter through the list of prospects. Every time she got one who was interested, she would have me call them immediately. I closed a lot of sales very efficiently this way and made a lot of money. The personal touch is critical in marketing. These days it is so hard to actually get to talk to someone knowledgeable by phone. People often appreciate being able to talk to a critical higher level person at a company. So, leverage that time that you spend with people and use it the right way.

Many higher level business people want a lower level assistant to do all of their busy-work for them. This is a mistake. The lower level people are good for filtering and busy-work, not for handling the critical aspects of a business conversation. Even if they know the right answers, they don’t have the special energy or mojo to give the client the satisfaction that they crave — the satisfaction of talking to a high energy higher level manager or executive for about ten minutes. Make each minute count and use it the most efficient way!

To wrap up the various contact methods, email marketing is good for general reminders and links to new articles in your blog, but not for sales (at least not in my business). Auto-calling is also good for more critical reminders as many people have emails that filter out critical messages. Cold Calling (or warm calling if your clients know you) is much better if you need to actually change a business relationship. In advertising it is common to renew your existing level of advertising. Contacting people for a renewal can be done through auto-call or email marketing. However, contacting them to change or upgrade their plan should ideally be done using a very specialized and targetted list and done by hand.

Using Linked In to network for your BPO or Call Center

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It is not easy to promote your call center and gain clients. You can cold call companies, promote a web site or use social media. There are so many social media sites out there it is hard to know which one is the right one. For business, LinkedIn has some definitive advantages.

The average LinkedIn member has an average yearly household income of $109,000
50% of LinkedIn members have decision-making authority for their companies.

But, how do you use LinkedIn for your call centers?

Create a profile
You need to create a LinkedIn company page. Make sure you fill the page in very completely with all of your background professional information and every pertinent fact about your company.

Post regular updates
You can post regular updates on your profile about what you are working on at the moment.

Connect by Networking
One way to gain new contacts on LinkedIn is to contact relevant people who follow your contacts. It’s easier to make a new contact if you have some common ground.

Participate in Groups
You can join up to fifty LinkedIn groups and participate in call center discussions. You can also provide good answers to other people’s questions. Being regularly seen helps, but being seen as a reliable source of intelligent commentary and knowledge helps even more.

LinkedIn Advertising
We tried LinkedIn Advertising for my discussion group. We did get new followers, but the cost was not cheap. It was $2 per click and we got a new follower for every $12-14 we spent which was not terrible, but not really cost effective.

Paid Memberships
LinkedIn limits the quantity of professionals that you can contact in a month. So, unless you have twenty profiles you use together, you can’t contact that many people. Paid memberships let you contact more people to network with.

Start a Group
In outsourcing, most of the groups have job postings. Our LinkedIn group has a lot of interesting outsourcing and business discussions.

What is a follower on LinkedIn worth comparatively?
I run 17 social media campaigns and I am constantly trying to figure out what a follower is worth. I can measure click patterns and see how many of them like particular blog articles. However, the actual human beings doing the clicks from LinkedIn are much more influential and hence could be considered to be of a higher value than perhaps a Twitter click to my site. How much more valuable is a LinkedIn click than a Twitter or Facebook click? I would tend to say more, but how much more is hard to say. If you compare various social networks, compare the costs of developing a group that will give you 1000 clicks a month to your blog or site. It might take a much higher quantity of followers to get the same result on Twitter, but might be easier to attain those followers. The math is complicated. But, if you want to get ahead in networking, you need to be able to identify the most time effective methods and avenues of promoting your call centers!

LinkedIn is not big on outsourcing
Keep in mind that there are not many outsourcers using LinkedIn and they are not at all interactive. To market your call center or BPO you need to find regular business owners who could be in any field that might need your services. Get to know them and see if they have an interest in trying you out.

Who are your best business connections? They are not who you think!

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I am sitting here doing my monthly article reading. I pour through dozens of interesting (and a few not so interesting) business articles to find interesting content to write about. Well, here on Harvard Business Review I’m reading about how dangerous it is to assume your career is safe. I think it is dangerous to assume anything is safe. In this world, nothing is constant except change — and my Guru says we have to wait for change!

But, your best business contacts may not be who you think they are. Your family, close friends, schoolmates, and close associates at work might not be your best contacts. In a sense it is unpredictable who your best contacts are, and one may be great at one point in your career while another might be good at another time.

It is often the case that your best business contacts are people who you have known for years, but with weak ties. Maybe a customer who you had slightly longer and more interesting conversations with, or a vendor’s assistant who was a little more knowledgeable or interesting. That winning connection could be anyone. Perhaps it pays to keep a database of your interesting connections and try to develop slightly less weak ties with them. You never know what could happen. I met some of the most interesting industry related people I know on Twitter. Unfortunately, they were anti-social and the relationships didn’t last. Maybe I should go back to hanging around at coffee houses — those coffee house types never get tired of yapping with me!

You might also like:

My favorite business dream was about lions and giraffes

Steve Jobs Principle — the more people you network with outside your field

You don’t get to the next level in business by being in a hurry

Magic Words in Business

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Do you use magic words in business? Special words can really improve your customer relations. However, without proper follow-up, you will lose your reputation!

Can I help?

I’ll let you know!

I’ll deliver on time every time.

I appreciate your business.

Can I send you a link to some information regarding the question you asked?

I’ll send you a rate schedule.

I’ll create a customized plan to meet your individual needs.

Being helpful is great. But, going the extra mile is even better. Delivering on promises is more important than making them. There are all types of characters in business that promise all types of things. If you don’t deliver services on time, you will lose your reputation quickly. Being patient and helpful with customers is important too. Some customers like to ramble, and it is important to tolerate their inefficient behavior so you don’t offend them. But, to go the extra mile you need to offer customized help to clients. Not all clients will benefit from seeing your rate schedule. They only need one quote and that quote is to get what they need done they way they want it done. If you can tune into individual needs and comfort zones your business will do much better.

Many business do what is convenient for themselves with very little regard for what is convenient for the client. You are there to help others, not yourself. So, try to tune into what people really want, and say some magic words too in order to make people feel good.

Have a nice day!

You lose 90% of your blog traffic by requiring membership

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I’ve seen many of my favorite blogs do this. They restrict the quantity of their blog articles you can read without getting a membership. For my absolute favorite marketing blog by Marketingprofs I stooped to the level of letting them have my email address. Yes, this way I can be on their mailing list and yes, Marketingprofs and I have both independently come to the conclusion that an email list is your most potent form of clicks to your blog.

But, how many clicks to your blog do you lose by restricting non-members from reading? You might lose 90% of your repeat traffic and perhaps a lot of retweets on Twitter by making such a restriction. Yes, a serious reader will sign up for your membership. Yes, you will get them on your newsletter which could lead to a long term relationship. But, you also lose many serious readers too. Here’s why. If you have several favorite business blogs, are you really going to sign up for ten different memberships? Most people will choose a handful of memberships for their favorite publications and skip the rest. So, if they like you but don’t love you they might never come to your blog again since you locked them out.

In the long run, I’m not sure how much more you gain by gaining a few emails at the expense of locking many people out. On the other hand, maybe the equation should be more about when you lock people out. If you let people read twenty articles per month instead of five and let them know they can come back next month, you still might be able to get a few emails, but you wouldn’t lose quite so many readers! The goal of catching emails is to have more readers, yet you lose your readers by forcing them to sign up. It is a double edged cyber-sword!

Do you help the people you sell to? You should!

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My job description includes data entry, call center, managing programmers, sales, marketing, answering emails, strategy, data management and more. However, since my main salesperson has been too busy to do outbound sales calls, I am forced to. I am happy to report that I am a better salesperson than I thought. I was able to sell over ten thousand dollars worth of advertising above and beyond what we normally sell. And that was using only a few hours per day. I can’t sell all day long as I have other responsibilities. But today, I became aware of one of the most powerful selling techniques ever. Combining helping people with sales.

When I call people on my directory to sell them something they don’t always have, I always take a look at their listing. It is often the case that there is something garbled, unclear or omitted in their notes section. I am an expert at cleaning up notes sections on online profiles as I have been doing this for fifteen years. One of the books I’m selling has cutting edge tips on how to do better in the Notary business. When I get to describing the chapter that has sixteen pages all about how to write a superior notes section, I always look at the person’s notes section and give them a free makeover. People are much more happy to buy from you if you show that you are useful in ways that they value.

I find that my clients need a lot of help from me, but rarely get around to asking. It is easier for them if I offer and do it for them without them even needing to ask. Being a directory owner, I am very aware of the fact that the better the quality of the listings I have, the more traffic I’ll get on my directory. It’s the old, “We don’t look good unless you look good” principle.

Since I know more about the industry I’m in than my clients do, they like it when they get information from me. Information is king these days. I have a lively blog where I constantly post tips and stories for their entertainment and betterment. I don’t only post facts. I try to make the blog diversified and fun so that they will enjoy reading. By virtue of the fact that so many people find my blog to be entertaining, more people come regularly which means they will absorb more valuable information. The people who are regulars on my blog are much more willing to spend money on me since they value the free information I have given them and also because they sort of know me by virtue of their reading of materials that I crafted.

In short, there are many things you can do to give value to your clients. The more value you give them in a pleasant way, and the better they know you — the more they will spend. So, start giving more and you will receive more! There is a shortage of people out there who are friendly and useful. Be one of them!

What separates “A” quality marketers from the flock

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In reality, marketers don’t travel in flocks, they travel in packs — or they prowl around at night solo. After all, marketers are either wolves or tigers, not sheep — at least the highest level of marketers are. But, putting semantic and zoological considerations aside, let’s hit upon some key factors of what separates the tigers from the cubs.

A good understanding of social media is an identifying characteristic
I’m more familiar with social media marketing, but any type of marketing has the same goal. You have a product or service and want to get the most people using it at a profitable price for you. I have met many mediocre social media marketers in my life. They go through the motions. It is sort of like an uninspired eight year old practicing the violin. He keeps playing the same piece over and over with the same mistakes and it is always out of tune. The mediocre social media marketer posts the same type of posts on Facebook, Twitter, and whatever other platforms are involved. If you ask them what makes a post get traffic they will be evasive and say, “It depends, there are so many factors.” What they are saying is true, and the fact that they express the complexity with such simplicity proves their mediocrity. The good social media marketer can explain with some degree of detail how the different factors can influence a post’s success and what experiments they did to try to fine tune their understanding of what makes a good post good.

Limited knowledge seems to identify everyone in marketing
I talk to different people in Marketing from time to time. I have communicated with some of the leaders in the field. The surprising factor that seems to be a constant is that most social media marketers do not understand all the mediums and don’t have a very thorough knowledge of social media as a whole. I spoke to one expert who charges $250 per hour to help people get set up on social media. He told me that he was unable to help me with Google+ which is the #2 most commonly used network! I wrote to another team of experts who have one of the most sophisticated blogs on social media on the net. They also were unable to tell me anything about Google+ other than to read their several blogs on the subject (which were very helpful, but limited.)

What I learned is that some people have knowledge of Facebook and Twitter. There are others who specialize more in Linked In. It is tough to find someone who really understands Google+ or Stumbleupon, and I can’t say anything about the other networks of which there are many. It seems that there are no absolute experts in this field. However, there are some who have a general knowledge of social media which might be good enough for them to trudge through unknown territory.

The jugular
A good marketer finds a way to reach high goals and keeps finding ways to achieve more and more. They constantly refine their techniques, and strive to see deeper into the analytics on a daily basis. If you find a marketer who has nothing to say about how he is trying to refine their techniques or broaden their horizon, they are more likely to be marketers on the “C” list than the “A” list.

Long term goals
A good marketer needs to not only be good at generating constant new leads and mastering the new mediums out there. They need to make their efforts lead to a long term attainment of higher business goals rather than just short term sales. What does that mean for your business? Only you can say!

The highest level marketers engage in more communication with their higher ups, clients, and co-workers. They realize that they can learn something from their interactions with others, even if it is just bits and pieces. They might need to interact with sales, finance, management, or people in a number of other departments to do a more fine tuned job. Lower level workers tend to avoid interacting with others, especially if they don’t like others.

Performance management
The best marketers have written plans for how they plan to improve their performance over time more than the slackers do. If you have ever taken a course in success, you will probably remember where they told you about two guys from very similar backgrounds. One became a billionaire while the other one just made an average income twenty years after they graduated from high school. What is the difference between these two guys? The one who was successful wrote down their goals. The same applies to the highest level marketers. They have written goals too.

Analysis paralysis
Top level marketers tend to spend more time analyzing performance and trying to figure out what they did right and what they did wrong, not to mention what they can experiment with to see if they can do better than before. Analysis is an interesting word, because a good analyst can look deeper into the numbers and derive more meaningful information while a novice might only see some top-line numbers of how many clicks or visitors a blog got.

Is Kim Kardashian just another face, or can you learn about business from her?

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There are personal brands and corporate brands.
In the end, a successful brand makes a personal connection. Some people say that Kim Kardashian leveraged her family connections to gain fame and get a foot in the door to have a media presence. Her father’s prestige as a well connected Attorney who was involved with the most famous law suit in American history (OJ Simpson’s case) really helped plant a seed that flourished over the years.

Kim wanted to build her personal brand by getting the attention of the media.
Having a sex tape with a celebrity got her in the tabloids and general media. With one simple tape, she elevated her status from just another pretty face to a potential celebrity. After this bold and decisive claim to fame, she decided to make a name for herself as a trend setter and built this reputation on her various social media accounts. Kim spent a lot of time connecting and engaging with her followers which is absolutely essential in social media.

Using celebrity status to engage the media even more.
Once Kim had attained celebrity status, she built more of a presence with it by having her own show on television. She also posed “au natural” for several magazines to create more controversy and gain more attention. In the media, you can be fun, or you can be interesting, but nothing gains more attention than controversy.

Additionally, it should be said that Kim understands the entire trademark process. She knows the legal aspects of what to brand, how to brand it, and when, etc.

Finally, Kim partnered with very successful people to create brands. She was part of Shoedazzle, Bell Noel jewelry,a video game app deal, and more. Basically she leveraged the name she created for herself to market products.

To sum it up, Kim is a master of building a success on another success. She used family connections and a sex tape to gain fame. Then, she used it to build even more fame, and brand products using her name. Her innate and natural beauty is also critical to the process as she has a very unique and stunning look.

What can your business learn from Kim’s success?
First of all many businesses are on social media. Most social media accounts are dreadfully dull. You can learn from Kim how to jazz up your social media. Her Twitter account is very visual with lots of sexy and stunning photos. As a business, you will need more meat to captivate your audience, but the dazzle always helps. Your business can also learn to engage with people via social media. However, in general, a successful business is successful because you connect with people in a meaningful way and help them in substantial ways. And if all else fails, you can urge your corporate president to make a sex tape with a celebrity. Sure, it is not an ethical or moral thing to do — but, it’s all part of maintaining an image (not necessarily the one you want though.)

Thinking outside the croissant – a guide to making better business decisions

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We have a local coffee house in our complex. They have a very pleasant staff and make decent coffee concoctions. Their downfall is that they fail to understand very simple business concepts such as inventory management. In a cafe, you have coffee drinks which require storing beans and milk which can be kept for days in a refrigerator. You can also sell cold drinks which keep well. But, pastries just don’t taste the same the second day. So, what is the solution?

What is Perishable & What is Not?
There are items such as cookies which can be stored longer than pastries. It might also be possible to buy more pastries mid-day if you prematurely ran out. Biscotties are a type of dry bread that cafe goers love that keeps forever. However, our local cafe owner employs none of these strategies. He has a huge surplus of pastries in the winter at the end of the day, and runs out at 2pm in the spring and summer. He fails to base his purchasing on sales and refuses to adjust his habits or even think about the matter. His management style is pure madness and very stubborn.

A Pastry Algorithm
I suggested to him that he create a pastry algorithm. His ordering practice would be based on a combination of how many he sold last year during the same month — but, also based on how things have been going over the last two weeks. Maybe his business picked up recently because there are more neighbors who enjoy his coffee.

What Else can he Sell?
Our local cafe could easily sell sandwiches, fruit bowls, and dinner items. People would buy them. They used to sell them and it went okay. However, if you have the same old thing all the time, people might get sick of it. It is important to have the same old things that sell like crazy, but to also have new things so that your long-term clients don’t get bored.

It’s not hard to make big money
Some cafes are always packed. They have a vibrant social scene, a great staff, and great coffee. Other cafes just don’t do as well. The consciousness of the owner has a lot to do with this as well as the overall quality of everything else. But, if you don’t think outside the box or the croissant here, you will be limiting your success. Why put a damper or lid on your potential? Try some new ideas on a small scale and see how they work. But, don’t just try the ideas, really think about them and ask your clients how they feel about your need ideas and their experience with them.

How long will your reputation last if you don’t do what you say you’ll do?

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Most of us reading this blog are in business. We are all aware of how annoying or exasperating it is to work with someone who doesn’t do what they say they will do. It is so basic and so elementary to know that you should keep your word. Yet many of us in business don’t for one reason or the other. Some are too busy to do what they promised. Others forget or just don’t care. Some are frauds and intentionally don’t deliver on promises.

This applies to threats too. If you run a business and have rules for conduct and someone breaks the rules, do you keep your promise to penalize them? If someone pays you late and you have a $25 late fee do you wave the late fee? If you do, nobody will take your policy seriously. I run a directory and threaten to take people offline if they don’t login regularly. I keep my threat now, but I didn’t use to. The minute I kept my promise, people started logging in religiously.

It is busy running a business, and sometimes we forget about very basic things like keeping in touch with critical people and keeping our promises all the time every time. If you don’t, people will lose faith in you and then you will not have a business for long!