Social Media: It’s Written in Concrete


Remember when you were a kid and some neighbor was pouring a new concrete driveway, or the city was putting in some new sidewalks and what would happen next?  Yea, you can admit it: the temptation to go write your name in the wet cement overcame you and you grabbed the nearest stick and went to work creating something beautiful and yes, permanent.

There is a growing societal change that is taking place in our world.  Years ago, if you were caught stealing candy, breaking street lights, or teepeeing someone’s trees, you may be in trouble at the time, but you sure didn’t have to worry about potential employers doing a background search and discovering that you had participated in these acts.

I wonder how good a job we adults are doing at making sure young people understand that what they put onto Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace is something that may resurface twenty years from now, when they’re trying to land that next great job.  And maybe even if we tried, they wouldn’t listen.  We are all aware of some of the even dangerous activities taking place like “sexting.”

According to The Benenson Strategy Group’s latest research results, parents have a long ways to go toward truly understanding their children’s on-line behaviors.  Their interesting study results can be found at:

What do you think we as a society should do with this new found information?  If you thought it was hard to run for political office now days, just think how easy it’s going to be to find those closet skeletons in years to come.  It won’t work to say, “I smoked but did not inhale,” because it will be on video somewhere.

Do you think in the future that these “youthful indiscretions” will be written off as just what they are?  Will it be possible for our society to sustain the strict rules of former conduct that we have in place today?  Is the permanence of social networks and the information they contain something we can learn to forgive?

I’d love to know your thoughts.



Social Media: I’m Gonna Blow Your Doors Off?


I just love the mental picture I get when I hear the phrase, “blow your doors off.”  It takes me back to when I was a kid, reading my first Hot Rod magazine and seeing those shiny dragsters with the big scoops sticking out of the hood, smoke pouring off the oversized spinning tires and flames belching from the chrome exhaust pipes.  It was what was on my mind when getting ready to race a friend on my gold-flaked Schwinn bicycle with high-rise handle bars, slick rear tire and a banana seat. And out of my mouth came the threat, “I’m gonna blow your doors off.”

You’re probably saying, “wow, you’re really competitive, and what does this have to do with marketing?”

Yes, I am competitive but that’s not the point here.  I talk to a lot of business owners of companies large and small, and from a number of industries.  Inevitably, the conversation will work its way toward what everyone seems to be talking about now, social media.  And even though there are major brands who have embraced social media like Dell, Star Bucks and Dominoes Pizza, many of these business owners will say to me, “David, I just don’t get how it will work for my business.”

Just so we’re straight, whether correct or not, I lump many things into my definition of social media to include:

  • Social networks like Facebook and My Space
  • Micro blogging sites like Twitter
  • Bookmarking and blog rating services such as, Digg, Stumble Upon and Technorati
  • Picture and video platforms like You Tube and Flickr
  • Business networks like Linked In, Plaxo and Naymz and their groups and associations that provide for the ability to ask and answer industry specific questions.
  • And finally, Blogging and blog sites (and I suppose newsletters could also be included here)

There is not doubt that social media is getting a great deal of hype right now.  This may cause people to believe that it is a passing fad that will soon become stale.

Most experts agree that social media has so dramatically transformed our world’s society that we can never really go without it.  In fact, in his article, “How Social Media May Save The World,” Danny Dover talks of its ability to stop pandemics.  Read his entire article at:

Beyond these lofty claims, active participation in social media has a proven basis in sound marketing practices in addition to strong customer service attributes.  Jeff Bullas, in his blog post, provides 8 reasons why this is true.

Everyone should be aware that social media is not free, even though there is no cost to become involved.  It does take time and a carefully thought out strategy for what you want to accomplish and a time-table for when you would expect to see results.  Don’t anticipate a quick payoff, as it does take time.  But make no mistake, social media is here to stay and you can choose to ignore it or you can start to take an active role.  If you choose not to participate, just know that your competition will and they’ll be saying to you, “we’re gonna blow your doors off.”

All my best,


Cubs Do the Right Thing

I’m glad to say that the Chicago Cubs came through. If you’ll recall my previous post, there was definitely a customer service problem there. We just found out that our credit card has been credited with the price of the tickets which was the right thing to do.  It is too bad that we never heard from the Cubs though.  In any case, all’s well that ends well.


So Where’s the Payoff?


Website conversion, that somewhat illusive term that every site must accomplish, can have a number of meanings.  Generally, we marketers refer to it simply as what action we intend for the website visitor to take before leaving our site.  It may mean completing an online form to receive a technical white paper; it could also be requesting to be added to a mailing list to receive future newsletters or blog posts; or in its purest form, to complete a transaction where an exchange of a product for money takes place. The evaluation of website conversions is important whether your marketing efforts are directed towards the consumer (B to C) or whether directed towards another business (B to B).  Website conversions also take place regardless of industry, and this would include manufacturing, professional services, transportation and even not-for-profit.  The bottom line is, regardless of whether the intent behind the conversion is to generate leads, to sell a product, to take a survey or to gather market information, the conversion is the key measurement to success in Internet marketing.

I have had a number of clients ask me what kind of conversion rate they should expect as a result of their online search marketing initiatives.  As I’ve said in a number of previous posts, there are many factors that can impact your conversion rate, but you should also consider the sales cycle of your product or service.  If your product has a high price, your sales cycle is likely much longer and therefore a lower conversion rate is probably acceptable.  If on the other hand, you are trying to gather information on people who could potentially be a customer, then your conversion rate will depend on what value the visitor receives in exchange for the information they provide.

Internet visitors can come to your site from four very generalized sources:

  • Pay-per-click or Sponsored Search ads
  • Organic or Natural Search (a result of your SEO efforts)
  • Directly typing in your URL or having bookmarked your URL
  • Some other referring party

Even though traffic can come from an endless number of places, a study completed recently by Engine Ready looked at these categories and the traffic to 26 e-commerce sites over a 12 month period.  Although I will hit the highlights, the complete study is available at

You’re probably saying, David, we don’t do e-commerce on our website and that is a perfectly legitimate concern.  Although results can vary dramatically based upon what you have defined as a “conversion,” I just thought this study might be interesting in helping you evaluate whether you are getting the best value from your search strategies.

According to their findings, for these 26 “e-retailers” this was what they saw:

  • The conversion rate from sponsored search was 2.03% versus 1.26% for organic search.  This could be attributed to the fact that more design time is spent on the landing page of a sponsored search ad.
  • Not surprisingly, the best conversion rate, 7.38%, was from someone directly typing in the URL or clicking a bookmark.  The second best was the visitor who was referred by another website or who clicked on an email link, it was 6.58%.
  • The bounce rate, or visitors who immediately left after hitting the landing page was 43.9% overall, with organic search producing the worst bounce at 48.5% and direct access the lowest at 39.2%.  Many times either people don’t input quality search phrases or the search engines missed their mark.

So, where’s the payoff?  The clear answer is if they don’t know your domain name, then you definitely want to be referred by another website; it’s like word of mouth advertising.  But, I believe this shows that you simply have to have an overall strategic plan when it comes to Internet marketing and always measure, evaluate, adjust and then measure again.  Your thoughts?



Is This a “Teachable Moment” Chicago Cubs?


My wife grew up in a northern suburb of Chicago.  I guess since she came from the north side, she was obligated to be a Chicago Cubs fan.  Regardless of what she was obligated to do, over the years she became a huge fan and has told me many stories about going to Wrigley Field with her grandfather as a young girl and then later with friends from Northwestern University, stealing those hazy summer afternoons to go sip a beer and enjoy a hotdog under a glorious Chicago sun.

For the thirteen years we’ve been married, the experience of an afternoon game at Wrigley Field has only been in my imagination, as we never got a chance to go see a Cubs game until this last May.  Needing to travel to Chicago to attend the memorial service for her Father, my wife decided it was finally time for me to go to a game and it would be a nice break from the emotions of the visit.  In preparation, she went to the Cubs website, purchased very expensive box seats, and surprised me with the news one evening over dinner.

Having arrived in Chicago from Kansas City, we did a few errands and then jumped on the “EL” to head for Wrigleyville.  To our dismay, a light rain was falling but we were well prepared having brought the proper rain gear to stay nice and dry.  As we entered the ballpark, we stopped at the first available stand for the requisite ice cold beer and hotdog and then headed up the ramp to our box seats.  My first glimpse of Wrigley Field was held for at least three minutes, taking in the ivy on the outfield wall, the bleachers on all of the buildings across the street, the steel beams that meant some poor souls had marginal site lines and then to the large green scoreboard where we saw, “Today’s game has been postponed and will be played at a later date.”

After recovering from the huge disappointment and cursing our luck, we went to the customer services window to see what our options were.   We were told by a Cubs employee that they had no information now, but that we were to go to the website and see when the game would be scheduled.  We explained that we were only in Chicago for the weekend and weren’t sure when we would be returning and if we could refund our tickets.  With the emotionless face of a person required to answer the same question over and over, we were told that nothing could be done that day.

You’re probably wondering, “Where is this story going David?”  This is where we get into the marginal-at-best customer service experience we have had since that day in Chicago, with the hope that, aha, this is the opportunity to learn what not to do to a loyal fan (a.k.a. customer).

We spent the next four weeks monitoring the Chicago Cubs website, to see what process we needed to undertake to get a refund on our rather expensive tickets.   We then called the customer number provided with the tickets.  Since it had been over four weeks since the original date of the game, our bright customer service representative told us that the date by which a refund could be secured was that very day and since “the procedure” was that our request needed to be in the Cub’s office, there was nothing they could do.  Finding no help there, we called our credit card company to refuse the charges, which was overruled when the Cubs denied the request.

Now, my wife is not someone that takes kindly to this sort of treatment, even if she often wears her Cubs hat watching the games on WGN and drinking her beer with a Cubs koozie.   This was a matter of what was right and wrong.  As her mother had taught her, when you are not satisfied with the outcome of a situation, then write a letter, and that she did!

In her letter she made an impassioned plea for consideration of the circumstances, that we didn’t live in Chicago, and that she was a lifetime fan.  In this whole situation, the one right thing that the Cub’s organization did was to call us soon after they had received the letter.  But that was about all they did right.

The kind young man informed us that since the rescheduled game had just been played, there was nothing that could be done.  “You mean we could have gotten a refund when we called earlier but were told it was past the deadline?!?”  Why yes, they had extended the date of requests (unknown to us) however now, the policy was that nothing could be done.

You’re probably asking yourself, okay, here is a loyal customer, who has received incorrect information.  Good customer service says you do something about it, like maybe tickets to a future game.  That was not to be the case and in fact we raised that possibility only to be told that it was against some MLB/players’ union rules to give tickets away.  This I know to be false as I have received just that kind of offer from my hometown Royals team.  Policy prevails and we are without a reasonable solution.

The Cubs have a brand, which is a promise to their fans, that since they can’t seem to win a pennant, they will at least treat their fans better than anywhere else.  As business owners, we all strive for the kind of customer loyalty that is evident in my wife.  Quoting policy is not the way to reward that loyalty.

In conclusion, we have asked that this matter be escalated but as of the writing of this post, it is still unresolved.  I’m not sure my wife will ever make the effort to purchase tickets again, so I am left with only the imagination of going to a Cubs game.  I wonder, is this a “teachable moment?”  Let’s have a beer and talk about it.