Live by the Data or Die by the Data


I know that there are hardly enough hours in the day to take care of your customers and run the business, let alone, study and correlate all the customer-centric information which is now available at your fingertips. But, it’s never been more important than now. As Mr. Dave Frankland, an analyst with Forrester espoused, 2010 and beyond is the “age of the customer.” Customers are in more control than ever, and they are wielding that power by responding to companies that understand them and their needs.


Natalie Zmuda, with Ad Age talks about the obsession with “understanding, delighting, connecting with, and serving customers,” as the only real differentiator that many companies have. I would add to that, the intelligence to predict behavior as well.


Never in history have business owners had such a vast amount of information available to them about their customers’ behavior, which can be a strong predictor of a “potential” customer’s behavior.


Facebook can tell you how many people in your area have expressed interest in what you do based upon specific terms? Google has reams of information available on what people are searching for. There are software companies that have created social media dashboards that provide the ability to see what conversations are taking place about you, whether you “follow” them or not. And just as important, there are your own sales statistics that you keep.


It is not only important to track sales, but also to be able to know the source of the sales lead. Those lead sources should be broken down sufficiently to understand what action the interested party initially took to become a lead. What products were purchased from what lead sources? As an example, if you only track that a sale of product A came from the Internet, what you don’t know is what action was taken. Did the lead fill out a “contact me” form or did they pick up the phone and call you? Did they ask a question through Facebook or were they referred by one of their LinkedIn contacts? Did they click on a QR code that you had on a print advertisement or did they come to you from your YouTube video?


Being able to tie sales back to a very specific lead source allows you to calculate which kind of lead results in the highest likelihood of a sale. Where should you spend precious sales resources to get the highest return? Where should marketing dollars go to stimulate these high value leads? What kind of message is successful in generating quality leads? Would extending that message to other sources for leads generate the same kind of quality lead there? Would it be better to focus on those products that generate the highest margins?


So, your business can prosper by paying attention to the data that’s available or not, it’s up to you. And, if you need some help with this, let us know.


All my best in your “data mining”




I Got a Fever for a Testimonial



“Can I have a witness….Can I have a witness?”


Ah, the beloved testimonial, proof positive that you are as good as you think you are, that your product does in fact please people and everyone should trust what you say.


So why don’t more people ask for testimonials?


I think there is inherent doubt in all of us. In some, it’s hardly noticeable, while in others, it stands there and demands to be out front and noticed. There is a hesitancy to ask if someone likes your work or your product because they might just say, “no.”


But the testimonial, the witness to your company and what you work so hard to achieve, is like a gold mine. Testimonials foster trust in you by those you want to sell to. Testimonials are what can bring great satisfaction to your work. I’m not sure anyone out there starts a company just to make lots of money, although there is nothing wrong with making lots of money. It’s just that money alone is somewhat empty. But when someone makes a point of telling the world how great you are, why it’s almost a religious experience, a sure fired boost to the ego.


Here’s a big no no I’ve seen. To have a “Testimonials” page on your website and there’s no testimonials. Whoa, that is like a huge red flag saying, “can somebody please like me and what I do?” It’s better to un-publish that page so it can’t be seen rather than have a website visitor try to see what people are saying about you and find a big fat Zero!


Social properties like LinkedIn, make it easy to ask for testimonials but better yet, give someone you know a recommendation and they’ll likely give you back a recommendation. Or at least you hope they will.


So go ahead, ask for the testimonial. Can I have a witness?


What are your thoughts?




Courage Defined

It’s been a while since I have last written and by no fault but my own. It could be said that I lacked the courage to persevere, to write even if I felt that what I had to say may not bring value.

By the blessings of some good friends, I realized I must get back on that horse, so, here we go, even though this may not be strictly “marketing” oriented.

Albert Einstein had a great quote on courage, “The ideas that have lighted my way and, time after time, have given me new courage to face life cheerfully have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.”

I identify with Mr. Einstein, especially recently, as I have learned of the illness of a good friend of mine, someone I have sung with on many occasions and whose courage I appreciate. The doctors have diagnosed that she has cancer in many parts of her body, and as she prepares, both physically and mentally, for the grueling regimen of chemo treatments and radiation, her courage stands tall as a bright beacon in a dark night.

She writes of her hope that if just one person decides to start a healthier lifestyle, or give up cigarettes, or live each day more fully, she can be content with this new path in her life. She says that there must be something in this disease she can learn from. Although she has lived an incredibly healthy lifestyle, the randomness of cancer demonstrates that anyone, at any time, can be facing this same battle.

It is through her courage, her kindness and her beauty I am reminded that perhaps it is I who is to learn something from the malady that invades her body. I pray I am a good student.

Live each day as if it were your last.



Expertise at Being an Expert

You hear it all the time, “Why John, he’s an expert,” or “You can get expert advice from Acme Insect Control.” And what exactly does that mean?

According to Wikepedia, an expert is defined as, “someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technical skill, whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain.”

I think the key here is “accorded authority…by their peers” because I sure see this word used a lot in the first person, especially when it comes to marketing and social media.

For the life of me, I’m not sure how anyone can claim to be an “expert” in social media, when most everyone is still figuring out the best way to use it in advancing their marketing objectives. There’s some good ideas out there for measuring and applying analytic tools and we’re all pretty sure we should be doing if we’re not, but I don’t buy “social media expertise” since we’re still in the very early stages of the medium. I don’t think anyone has really had enough experience to call themselves “experts.”

What’s more, even an expert sharpshooter will miss the bull’s eye occasionally.

I have never claimed to be a marketing expert. I have years of experience working with many size companies across many industries as well as seeing how different marketing media can be used cooperatively to achieve sales goals, but I sure can’t say I’m an expert. Every client’s situation is unique, and therefore requires a different approach.

I think most very wise people will say that the more you do something, the more you study it, the more you experience with it, the more you realize how much you don’t know. Sure, you can demonstrate moments of expertise, but this world changes so quickly that it becomes extremely difficult to remain an expert.

What do you think? I’d love to know.


The CMO Outsource

Give ‘Em a Mixed Media Message!

Who knows how it began. Did man first begin to communicate over distances by beating a hollow tree trunk or by lighting a torch and standing on the highest ground? Was this just a means of alerting friends to potential danger or were there variable messages governed by the rhythm of the beats or the way a torch was held? Smoke signals by Native Americans or Signal Flags by soldiers were a means of sending variable messages and instructions during war, at least prior to the telegraph and Morse code. And sailors relied heavily upon signal flags and light houses to warn of possible danger.

Regardless how it began, we humans thrive on communication, don’t we? We have created so many ways with which to exchange information and ideas across space and time – radio, TV, CB’s, telephones, email, texting, instant messaging, direct mail, snail mail, webinars, video streaming, YouTube, just to name a few. Whether it’s passive or active forms of communication, it can be pretty mind boggling and the thing is, each of us prefer certain kinds of communication over others. Certain media gets our attention and others don’t.

I have never been big on texting or IM but I use email extensively. Maybe it’s my fat thumbs on my mobile or maybe I just haven’t learned the lingo. I know that probably ages me quite a bit, however I think there’s an important point here. Unless you sell your product or service to a very narrowly defined, niche demographic, you probably need to consider the possibility that it’s going to take a number of different kinds of media to reach everyone in your target market with your marketing message. We all have different preferences for how we would like to be communicated to.

This is why I can really appreciate the concept of asking the question, “How would you like to hear from us?” For customers who have purchased from you or from those who have expressed an interest in your products or services, to ask them how they would prefer to be communicated to, shows that you respect their opinion and their time.

Granted, some of the forms of media cost more. Anyone can tell you that direct mail is not cheap, however if your customer or prospect really wants you hear from you in this way, make sure you comply with that wish.

There are many companies who provide printing and email services who have jumped on the multi-media bandwagon and can provide a cost effective solution to giving your customers their preferences. A sign-up website portal can be an excellent way to be able to respond to individual wishes. The real benefit is that your customers and prospects will appreciate just being asked.

So, in your marketing planning, make sure you are building in the capability to put your marketing message out there in a number of different media. It’s a little harder to manage but well worth the effort.

If there is a concern whether you have the time or abilities in-house to handle this, let us know, we’d be happy to help.


Your CMO Outsource


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