Posted at 06:20 AM in Ad Cat Media, Advertising, Architecture, Art, Business, Commercial, commercial design, Commercial for Clients, Email Advertising, happy new year, Holiday Season, Louisville, Louisville KY, Marketing, nikon, Old Louisville, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
My earliest memories are of being told stories. As the child of missionaries, I sat around evening fires with Africans and listened to their stories. My parents always made sure I had plenty of books from the beginning. An elderly great-aunt used to ply me at naptime with the promise of reading a story.
Stories are important. Stories share experiences. Stories tell about lessons learned and knowledge gained. Stories are one of the most basic of human interactions.
Over the years, I’ve sat around corporate offices, restaurants, airports and company lounges listening to many stories. Within a corporate environment, stories help us learn who our compatriots really are. We learn how their ranges of experiences have prepared them for their jobs. Stories traded will often tell us how two or more of us might take advantage of our collective knowledge and experience to work together better.
Any of us who work with customers and prospects use stories to convince them that our range of experiences and offerings can satisfy their needs. When we tell these people our stories, we’re sharing with them examples of how we’ve helped other customers. We use these as examples of how we can be trusted help them. Our stories can help them choose us to take care of their needs.
This is what we do with email marketing. Just as when we sit across the desk from someone, our stories can weave a fabric that unites our experiences and abilities with something that’s missing from a prospect’s own life or business. The big difference is that email allows us to reach so many people at once. And to do it on a more regular basis than if we needed to meet face-to-face.
How many people are you reaching with your stories? Do you need to reach more?
The purchase of Tumblr by Yahoo for $1.1 billion has filled the news recently. Depending on what you read, the “enfant savant” David Karp is the best thing to the tech industry since Mark Zuckerberg. Marissa Mayer of Yahoo has made a gutsy choice that will make her company a huge money-maker. Or a huge money-loser. However you look at it, it’s a story we all love reading. Watch for the movie… In the meantime, take a look at a nicely written article in the New York Times by Jenna Wortham and Nick Bilton. "Before Tumblr, Founder Made Mom Proud. He Quit School."
When I look at the deal from a personal standpoint, though, Karp and Mayer aren’t the heroes. As a parent and someone who has managed companies, I realize there are other people to whom Karp and Mayer must be extremely grateful.
One of those people is Barbara Ackerman, Karp’s mother. She realized her son was marking time in high school. He wasn’t being fulfilled. As she told a reporter, “It became very clear that David needed the space to live his passion. Which was computers. All things computers.”
She gave Karp that space. He dropped out of high school and, at this point, the rest we know. It’s tough for me to imagine the courage it would take for me to allow my own child to drop out of school regardless of his interest in any other field. But if I had been Karp’s parent and insisted he “at least finish high school” there’s no way to predict the result except that it probably would have been different. After raising two kids of my own, I certainly am aware that I don’t have all the right answers.
The other important person in the story is Fred Seibert, an early mentor of Karp’s. While Ackerman gave Karp the permission to live his passion, Seibert’s the guy who gave him the opportunity to take off and fly. Seibert gave him responsibility and freedom. That’s pretty heady stuff for a 19 year old. Sometimes those two attributes don’t mesh well in someone so young.
As the Times article noted:
“Mr. Seibert said it wasn’t long before Karp became invaluable [at Seibert’s company]. He asked him to build the site for his new company, a Web video production outfit called Next New Networks.
“He comes in two weeks later and he hasn’t done it,” Mr. Seibert recalled. “I thought he was being a flaky 19-year-old. But he said, ‘No, no, your idea is just so 2000.’ ”
“Mr. Karp pulled out a Sony PlayStation Portable gaming device and told him that soon, Apple would be releasing an iPod with video capabilities. “He said, ‘This is the way people are going to watch video and you really ought to be there.’
” Next New Networks was one of the first video products on iTunes and was eventually acquired by Google for around $50 million.
“Because of his prescience and timing, we were ahead of the curve,” Mr. Seibert said.”
Think about this now. This is Seibert’s company. He’s the mentor but he lets Karp teach him something new. That’s an essential quality of a mentor. The teacher can’t be afraid of being out-shone by the student. Instead, Seibert obviously relishes Karp’s amazing success.
I may never be a David Kerr or a Mark Zuckerberg. Or a Marissa Mayer. But, if I can a Barbara Ackerman or a Fred Seibert, I’ll be proud of myself.
Tell me everything I need to know about you. What products or services do you
you can do for me? Keep it to one minute. 60 seconds. That, my friend, is the art of the “elevator pitch.” Do you have an elevator pitch?
Last week I went to a chapter meeting of Business Network International (BNI) with my friend and client Lyn Mabry. She and I work together on marketing her business, Living Spaces By Lyn. We had just completed a re-do of her website, www.LivingSpacesByLyn.com. Lyn was due for a 10 minute presentation to her BNI chapter. I promised to help her run the presentation on screen.
At the beginning of each BNI meeting, members are asked to present a 1 minute talk on their businesses. I listened in. These guys were really, really good. I left the meeting with a clear understanding of how I might be able to work with several people.
Later in the week, Lyn shared a blog post by Tania Zamorsky, a guest blogger for the site Women On Business. She wrote about “The Art of the Elevator.” If you’re in business, you owe yourself the opportunity to read the article. Click here.
We all meet briefly with other people many times a day. Not just in elevators but at the first face-to-face with a prospective client, at networking meetings, at business meetings, and at public functions. While some of these meetings aren’t appropriate to selling ourselves (I typically don’t pitch my rector or my brother-in-law when I see them), many are great opportunities for us to start a conversation that can ultimately be beneficial for our business. Typically, in this day of the 30-second TV commercial, the flashing block on the website and the tweet, we have just enough time to finish the elevator ride. That’s it.
Elevator pitches are not just for selling. The real advantage of having a good elevator pitch is about defining ourselves. They’re a means to clarify our own understanding about who exactly we are and what we offer in the way of relationships, products, and services. A well thought-out elevator pitch may even help us understand what we offer in the way of a friendship to someone else. When we understand ourselves, we understand what makes us special and what makes what we offer interesting to the other person.
Do you have an effective elevator pitch? Have you heard one recently that’s really, really good? Drop me a line. I’d love to read it.
(Note: If you need someone to stage your home, consult on interior design or to run a restoration project on a home, contact Lyn Mabry of Living Spaces By Lyn. You'll find more about Lyn on her website. Want a website or blog of your own? Drop me a line, too.)
I worked for many years for a highly innovative company that specialized in material handling solutions. Many of the company’s solutions involved highly specialized situations such as handling nuclear waste, forgings that were still glowing red-hot, and chicken parts. Though I am no longer an employee of the company, I’m fortunate to count them among my email marketing clients.
(Do you have a material handling project that needs special attention? Give me a call and I’ll get you a contact.)
Over the years I worked for this company, we played “Jim’s Bracket Mania” each March. Jim, who handles one of the product groups, would field brackets predicting the winners of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships from several dozen people. He has gone from the paper-version to an on-line computerized set up that allows even those such as I, who do not follow basketball closely through the regular season, to participate. Admittedly, my effort is akin to buying a lottery ticket. But it’s a wonderful way to go through the weeks of March Madness.
After years of contributing to the pot for winner, I re-thought my strategy. Is there, I wondered, a business-like model to give someone a better chance of winning a pool (or just getting bragging rights for making the right calls)? I “bet” that someone had tried to make predicting the Final Four and the ultimate National Champion more than just a crap-shoot.
watched the talking heads on ESPN discuss their reasons and choices. There are
a number of sites on the Internet that offer prognostications. Las Vegas gets
into the act as well. But for me, none of those had the satisfying, pure-business-logic
that I’m accustomed to seeing in good business decisions.
One of the most successful predictors I’ve found in the business is Nate Silver. Silver is a statistician who makes a living predicting politics (and some other things - more on that shortly) on his 538 Blog. In the 2012 Presidential elections, he predicted results in 50 of 50 states correctly! In 2008, it was 49 of 50. So how is Silver at predicting the Final Four? Not perfect. But, he's really, really good.
methodology for picking the winners of each bracket is based on numbers from many sources, not a “witch’s brew” of insider knowledge with
batwings and eyes of newt. Not with superstition. I like that. So, beginning
last season, I looked to Silver’s 538 Blog to help me with my own bracket picks.
Know what? I actually won some money from one pool!
Want to know how he does it? Take a look at his article from 2011 about "How We Made Our N.C.A.A Picks." Then take a look at his picks on his blog. I’ve been studying his brackets closely.
Posted at 08:18 AM in Ad Cat Media, Advertising, Business, Commercial for Clients, Copywriting, david stewart, Email Advertising, Entrepreneur, Louisville, Louisville KY, Machines, Marketing, silver, Sports, Top Management | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Email is deceptively straight-forward and simple. We use it many times daily to communicate to family, friends and people with whom we do business. We all know how to forward a good joke (and mostly when not to). We know how to attach photos of the kids and our vacations. We know how to keep a business email succinct, to the point and cataloged on our computer for future reference. These emails have a common element; they’re all to people who mostly want to hear from us (see the reference about knowing when to forward jokes).
Running an email marketing campaign to our clients and prospects is a little different. The value of an email marketing campaign is that it maintains a relationship with people who also want to hear from us.
However, this crowd is different. While they may have agreed to get our newsletter in the beginning, there isn’t a long term contract that keeps them reading until they’re ready to buy from us again. The “contract” to continue is on an “email-to-email” basis. As email marketers, we have to recognize this and take specific steps to insure that people stay with us.
A potent email marketing campaign is one that keeps people reading until they need what you’re selling. There are four essential elements to a potent email marketing campaign.
If you can make these four steps work in your email campaign, you’ll grow your list of contacts and your business.
Give me a call. Drop me a line. Let’s discuss an email marketing campaign for you.
the years I have managed in different companies with many different scenarios. Those
ranged from early days as an hourly Lead to managing a division that stretched across the Eastern US. Inherent in all these positions was the need to choose people who had the ability and drive to help the company function properly and profitably.
Being raised in an entrepreneurial, business-oriented family, I was taught early on that each of us grows to the extent we’re stretched. Understanding the scope of that stretching in an individual is a key to knowing how that person will handle their business responsibilities.
An early mentor taught me that a manager’s answers to basic questions changed with the experience gleaned from their background, their jobs and what had been demanded of them throughout their life to that point. The important part of interviewing someone for a position is to ask the right questions, he told me. The questions have to fit the demands of the job. The answers help to determine if the applicant has the ability to handle those demands and to do the job successfully.
I ran across a really fascinating interview by Adam Bryant of The New York Times in which he talks with Kon Leong, co-founder, president and chief executive of ZL Technologies. Leong comes across as a very bright and perceptive guy in the interview. The condensed version of the interview is available through this link.
Bryant entitles the interview, “The First Rule of Brainstorming: Suspend Disbelief.” The title is a bit of a misnomer; the interview covers a wider discussion than it implies.
The portion of the interview that fascinates me is where Leong details questions he asks of interviewees. His questions bring back the memories of my old mentor’s observations. They make me sit and think about my own answers if I sat across from Leong in an interview. It’s a remarkable exercise. I need to repeat it more often to understand better all that I have...and have not...learned.
Note: Adam Long has a new book, The Corner Office, in which he details “interviews with more than 70 leaders.” This brief interview certainly recommends the book.
Posted at 07:53 AM in Ad Cat Media, ad tag media, Commercial, Copywriting, david stewart, Email Advertising, Entrepreneur, Mentor, Operations, People, Reflections, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
I have a number of friends and clients who are involved in real estate. That includes my wife (who holds some additional titles beyond “friend” and “client”). On this Sunday past, I came across an article by Alexei Barrionuevo for the New York Times that caught my eye. It’s entitled “Why Brokers Study Chinese” (subtitled “Big Deal – Courting Chinese Buyers”).
It’s an interesting read with some valuable lessons. On the face of it, the article relates to those I know who sell real estate. It’s a story about real estate agents who have prospered during the past few years by finding Chinese clients. These clients, fearful of a real estate bubble in China, are attracted to American properties. The Chinese clients have been a welcome addition since the brokers’ American clients have been sitting on their money waiting to see where the U.S. economy is going.
Beyond the real estate interest, there are some other points on which to focus for more general interests. For instance, it’s a fine example of how entrepreneurial tendencies help any of us in our own businesses to look beyond a momentary downturn and to seek out a new path to prosperity.
I was in Africa for a while last year and ran into any number of people who had their own business, typically in the form of a taxi service, a concession or a concierge business that catered to tourists. So, while my own parochial temptation is to think that Americans have a lock on entrepreneurial activity, I know it ain’t so.
The fact is that being faced with an old way that doesn’t work requires each of us, as entrepreneurs, to find a new way that does work. If Americans aren’t buying property, do brokers close the doors? Nope. They pick up a plane ticket to Beijing. As the article points out, “The old way of doing business is no longer enough, Ms. Field said. ‘We as Americans always expected anyone to adapt to our business style, and they did,’ she said. ‘That is no longer true with the Chinese. There are too many of them, they have too much power. We truly must adapt to their style of business in order to do deals.’” So she travels regularly to China to scout out new clients.
Another point in the article caught my eye. Some brokers the author interviewed don’t go to China and cold call. As one broker is quoted in the article, “I have yet to see how successful those cold approaches and road shows are,” Ms. Wang said. “Chinese, especially on the high end, rely heavily on the circle of their trusted friends and family members and people they have done business with in the past.” Whether our clients are Chinese “on the high end” or anyone else, the importance of maintaining relationships and trust with our customers is essential. We do that with face-to-face contacts, phone calls and, of course, regular email marketing.
As I wrote earlier, "It always pays to keep in touch."
I can help you with an email marketing plan of your own. Give me a call!
Posted at 08:03 AM in Ad Cat Media, Advertising, Commercial for Clients, Copywriting, david stewart, Email Advertising, Entrepreneur, Internet Advertising, Internet Marketing, Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
When I was small, I rode the bus with my grandfather. As a reticent child, I was content to watch the passage of the cityscape outside the window. My grandfather spent the trip talking with people on the bus. Even at that early age I was impressed that he approached someone, started a conversation, listened to them and came away having discovered a common link. Maybe a place. Maybe another person. But when we stepped off the bus, he was linked to the people he talked with on the bus. He had earned a relationship. It was my earliest example of networking.
As an adult, the very word instantly conjures in my mind a bunch of people in a crowded room. A Chamber meeting. A leads group meeting for breakfast. A Sales Club gathered for inspiration from a speaker. When I remember those trips with my grandfather, it’s a reminder that networking goes way, way beyond that. Meeting anyone anywhere provides the potential for networking. It can include someone who shares an elevator, someone at church or the guy wandering down the sidewalk looking as though he is lost. It can include a customer when they pay out.
Networking is seen by some people I know as an exchange of business cards. Go to an event and come away with a fist full. The effort actually must go far beyond collecting cards. It’s the beginning of a relationship. That relationship may generate an immediate sale but most of us aren’t that fortunate. Over the long run, by maintaining and nurturing a relationship, the chances become better and better for a sale or a referral. Once the pipeline is filled, you can then anticipate regular sales success.
Nurturing many relationships at one time requires real effort. While my grandfather met people and heard stories, he didn’t keep up with the people. He had the gift of remembering names. Years later, when he saw someone he had met even just once, he could continue the conversation where they had left off.
On a professional basis, any business relationship has to be nurtured regularly or people forget what you do and how you might help them. They forget why it’s important to know you. Visiting face-to-face or making phone calls are important ways to nurture relationships. But as your prospect list grows, that can become unwieldy.
That’s the entire point of email marketing. I have clients who sell houses. I have others who sell furniture. And some who sell material handling machinery or security services. Think about it. None of those products and services fit the “grocery and gas” model where someone buys almost every day. If you buy a home, it may be a number of years before you are in the market for a house again. You get the picture. In the meantime, you want them to remember you.
My wife wrote the newsletter for a local affiliate of Weight Watchers® early in her business career. A very wise woman named Margie worked with her. Margie reminded my wife to touch base with someone. She said, “It always pays to keep in touch.”
So how do you keep in touch? The most obvious, cost effective way to keep in touch with large numbers of people on a regular basis is with email marketing. In terms of the most bang-for-your-buck, regular email marketing is hard to beat. It is really, really hard to beat. Each time your company’s name pops up in someone’s in-box they think of you. Each time they see your subject line, they are reminded that they have a business relationship with you.
I can show you how easy it is to get started with email marketing. I can show you how cost effective it is. I can show you why you might be missing an opportunity.
Give me a call. Or drop me a line...
David Stewart - Ad Cat Media
(502) - 235-1628 - email@example.com
As someone who uses email as part of my and my clients' marketing efforts, I am sold on the value of email campaigns as a way of bringing in and keeping customers. The main point I stress about emails is that they're different than radio, TV or newspaper ads. Rather than use an email campaign to broadcast the news of “This Month's Special Deal!!!” (though that can be an important part of the campaign too), the point of an email campaign is to provide content to your customers (who asked to be on the email list in the first place) that is interesting, educational and valuable to their needs.
The reasons for this are very basic. Customers who don't find any thing worthwhile in an email campaign will cancel their subscription. If you only push special deals, your customers will either tune you out because they don't need anything today or because they just bought something off the your discount ad and won't need anything else in the foreseeable future. Interesting content keeps people signed-up to continue receiving your emails until they are ready to buy again.
Another reason for good email content is encourage your subscribers to forward the email on to a friend. The friend finds it of interest and signs-up for the email as well. We all know this. How many jokes or pictures or articles from our friends and family do we then forward to our own contact list? For most of us, it happens every time we open our email accounts.
Educational content in emails helps as well. It provides value to the customer. It establishes you as the authority. And it can remind your customer why they need to buy. Now.
Some clients who are just getting started with email marketing don't initially understand that the emails, and other forms of social media, are different than more traditional forms of marketing and advertising. An email campaign, done properly, helps you form and maintain a relationship with your customers. People may not eat barbeque, buy furniture or change houses every single day. The purpose of your email campaign is to maintain that initial relationship with your customers. The relationship that began when some one signed up for your newsletter. The relationship you want to maintain until your customer is ready to buy again. The best buying experience in the world is no good unless your customers remember to come back to you.
I called my bank the other day and asked to speak to Customer Service. The nice lady checked my identity carefully by getting pertinent data from me including my email and phone number listed on the account. Then she asked if I wanted to add a second email and a mobile phone number (never hurts to ask).
The conversation I had with her reminded me of the most difficult part of email marketing. The most difficult part is getting email addresses. A fresh, accurate list of people who want to hear about what you sell, what you think, or the deals you offer is a gold mine. Collecting those addresses is the first job.
If you are thinking about email marketing, here are some things to remember about your contact list.
Starting with a “clean” contact list made up of people who want to hear from you is a huge step toward a fruitful email marketing campaign.
Next time: Why would anyone want to hear from you? Or, how you keep your subscribers coming back.