Marketing Malpractice: The Email Edition
This isn’t going to be a long detailed post about how to optimize your email campaigns. There is plenty of info out there from people smarter than me for that.
This is a real short simple lesson on what not to do.
Don’t do this…
If you are the email marketing person at Fragrancenet.com you are bereft of any marketing skill whatsoever. You are the reason people hate marketing. You are the reason that me, a customer, hates you.
If you aren’t the email marketing person at Fragrancenet.com then consider this a lesson in marketing 101 – use your fucking head and be smarter with your marketing campaigns. Spamming your customer and prospects isn’t being smart. It’s incredibly stupid. It’s marketing malpractice.
Stop it. Stop it now.
Who I Think Will Rule the World
In 1993 I thought Microsoft would rule the world.
In 1998 I thought AOL would rule the world.
In 2003 I thought Google would rule the world.
In 2009 I thought Apple would rule the world.
In 2014 I thought Facebook would rule the world.
It’s 2017 and I think Amazon will rule the world.
And right now there’s somebody somewhere working on something that will convince me in 2021 that they will rule the world.
There are no dynasties anymore. The pace of technology is moving so quickly that kingdoms only last for a sliver of time. Sands shift, empires are toppled, and the only constant is change.
It is the most exciting, amazing, and terrifying time to be alive.
Oh and for what it’s worth, in 2030, robots will rule us all 😉
Your Competitors Aren’t Who You Think They Are.
“Jim, I want you to watch this,” he said, pointing to a webcast of the iPhone unveiling. “They put a full Web browser on that thing. The carriers aren’t letting us put a full browser on our products.”
Mr. Balsillie’s first thought was RIM was losing AT&T as a customer.
“Apple’s got a better deal,” Mr. Balsillie said. “We were never allowed that. The U.S. market is going to be tougher.”
“These guys are really, really good,” Mr. Lazaridis replied. “This is different.”
“It’s OK—we’ll be fine,” Mr. Balsillie responded.
From “Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of Blackberry”
- Blockbuster thought their competitor was Hollywood video. It was RedBox and Netflix.
- Blackberry thought their competitors were Nokia and Motorola. It was Apple.
- Kroger thought its competitors were Safeway and Publix. It’s Amazon.
- GM thinks its competitors are Ford and Chrysler. It’s Google and Uber.
Technology is advancing and converging at an incredible rate and your competitors aren’t who you think they are anymore. Those that choose to ignore this will suffer the same fate as some of the former market leaders mentioned above.
Many companies get fat and happy, content with the way they’ve always done business, thinking things will never change. That’s why 88% of the firms in the 1955 Fortune 500 are gone and today, new companies only have a 16 year estimated lifespan.
A company’s best defense against obsolescence is by making themselves obsolete…before someone else does.
Innovate or die.
Career Advice for My 21 Year-Old Self.
A few weeks back Scott Stratton penned a LinkedIn post entitled “New Grad Advice I Wish I Was Given”. It was an insightful piece that was dead on and something worthy of sharing with any recent grad you know – although I must admit I thought he was way off-base on the sushi advice.
It got me thinking about the advice I would have given myself as a newly minted graduate. In a literal stream of consciousness I jotted down, quite haphazardly, things that came to mind in a list that came together in just a few minutes. No rhyme, no reason.
It also made me wonder why University don’t offer this as a capstone course for all graduating seniors. As much as you learn in college, you really learn nothing on how it applies to the “real world”.
So, consider this a companion piece to Scott’s sage advice.
New Grad Advice I wish I was Given
1. Your performance review will have little bearing on your raise, bonus, promotability – those things are determined by a formula in HR. Your effort, however, will have an enormous bearing on your long term career. Keep grinding.
2. Your degree is like a new car – it loses half its value after you leave campus. The last time your degree will mean anything is after you get your first job. After that nobody cares where you went or what your GPA was. They want to know what you’ve done.
3. The most important part of your education are the relationships you formed with your classmates and faculty. Keep nurturing those relationships.
4. A Harvard degree will start your career on second base. Most colleges will start you at first. No degree will hit you a home run. That’s your responsibility.
5. Put your phone/laptop away during meetings. If other things are more important than that meeting then you shouldn’t be in that meeting.
6. If two people in a meeting agree on everything, one of them shouldn’t be there.
7. Don’t be the last one in the office or the first to leave. Don’t be the first one in the office AND the last to leave.
8. You’re smarter than you think, speak up if you have something to contribute.
9. The boss that hired you will like you more than anyone else will. Make him/her glad he/she brought you on board.
10. Make sure that every piece of work you do includes something extra that wasn’t asked for.
11. Calibri, Times New Roman, Courier. Period. Nothing destroys a reputation more quickly than a serious document written in comic sans….unless you’re a bad comic, or a face painter, or making fun of bad comics or face painters.
12. A pie chart is worthless. A well thought out analysis and recommendation on what the pie chart is telling you is invaluable.
13. A word cloud is just plain worthless.
14. Don’t be the guy that gets sloppy drunk at corporate social events. It’s how you will always be remembered.
15. Your LinkedIn Profile (or resume) should always be up to date. You don’t know when that next opportunity will be looking for you. If you haven’t got any updates to make to your resume in a year then you’re not trying hard enough.
16. Avoid the red-eye flight at all costs.
17. Your place on the totem pole is less about talent and more built on relationships, effort, luck, timing, and asking for the job you think you’re not qualified to do.
18. If you are in the same position for 3 years, you need to find a new job. You are either not good at that job or at a place that doesn’t reward good work. Either way, get out*
19. Your boss only remembers what you did for them yesterday, so be sure to remind them of your past experience and accomplishments.
20. When you leave work for the day, be done with work. 24/7 availability to the company is a fool’s game.
21. Keep a running tally of your achievements as you go. Trust me, you’ll forget a lot at the end of the year during your review.
22. Be your boss’ biggest ally, (I didn’t say biggest suck-up). Support them publicly, critique them privately.
23. When you get to be boss, be your team’s biggest ally. Support them publicly, critique them privately.
24. Once in your life, start your own business.
25. Don’t be an asshole.
26. You’ll learn more at a start-up in 6 months than you’ll learn at a Fortune 500 in 10 years.
27. A car is a necessary evil and no one is impressed as you think they are with your BMW.
28. The receptionist is the most important person at the company.
29. You’re young, you don’t have a pot to piss in. You have a small window of time to take some risks and it closes quickly.
30. Save 10% of everything you earn in a retirement fund.
31. Travel light.
32. Very few people ever find their dream job. Find a job that doesn’t suck, that will challenge, inspire, and reward you.
33. Every once in a while look around your work space and ask “Could I gather all my things and be out in 30 minutes.” You just might have to do that one day.
34. Save examples of your best work and important files on a thumb drive.
35. Don’t wear shorts to the office. Ever.
36. Don’t collect things. Collect memories.
37. Wine, liquor, beer. Pick one.
38. Don’t let your email determine your schedule. It’s a time sucking tool of generally meaningless work and possibly the worst tool business has ever created.
39. ALWAYS talk with someone who approaches you about a new opportunity. You can always decline it and you never know where it will lead.
40. Become comfortable presenting to an audience. Its an essential skill.
41. Layoffs suck. Be prepared for when its your turn and empathetic to others when it theirs.
42. Stay in touch with former coworkers, associates, customers, colleagues. It’s easy to send birthday greetings, congratulations, and have get togethers once in a while.
43. Give, give, give, give, give, give, take.
44. Thanking someone for their work or help is great. Sending that thanks to their boss is greater.
45. Every 3 months, send a note to someone’s boss telling them how valuable that person has been in making your job easier. Don’t tell them you did it.
46. Research the company and boss that just gave you that nice job offer. No job is worth it if you’re working in a hell-hole or for a jackass.
47. Ask “why” a lot. “Because it how we’ve always done it” is always the wrong answer.
48. Work happens in the office between 9-5. Careers happen outside the office 24-7.
49. Learn to say “No”.
50. Learn how to dress and always dress a smidge better than what your expected to wear.
51. Be on time for meetings. 5 minutes early is on-time.
52. Date a co-worker at your own peril.
53. Don’t just share content on social media. Create it.
54. Buy a pair of “money shoes” that only touch carpet and are only worn when it matters. I’m partial to Johnston & Murphy’s Hyde Park II Cap-Toe.
55. Do your work with a pencil.
56. A handwritten note is worth a thousand emails.
57. Don’t take somebody else’s stuff from the company fridge.
58. When traveling on company business:
- Don’t max out on the per diem just because you have one.
- Don’t scrimp on the per diem either. Eating at McDonald’s and staying at the $79 Howard Johnson’s across from Newark Airport doesn’t make you a hero.
- If someone else is paying the tab, don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu.
- Don’t post pics of all the fun you are having on your company trip. You have co-workers back at the office working their assess off that don’t have the privilege that you do.
- Be nice to security people, gate people, airline employees, hotel employees, bag check people, taxi people….you’re no better than any of them, and they can do a lot of nice things for you. They can also do a lot of horrible things to you.
59. We all know what you’re saying on social media.
60. Be visible. Join the softball team. Volunteer for task forces. Don’t eat lunch at your desk everyday.
61. Always follow-up.
62. Keep your word.
63. Don’t let work consume you…find a hobby. Bonus points if that hobby can provide a second income.
64. Every 6 months stop and assess where you are at. Are you happy? Are you reaching your goals? If not stop what you are doing and readjust your plan or look for a new opportunity.
65. Have a plan. A written plan. With goals and milestones. That you can share. You will never get where you want to go without a roadmap.
66. Every office has a bully. Don’t let them intimidate you.
67. Look for public speaking opportunities. That can be small meetings at work or big conferences. Become the expert at what you do and share your expertise with others.
68. Don’t take credit for someone else’s work. Don’t let someone else take credit for your work.
69. Assume that anything you say privately will be communicated publicly.
70. It’s ok not to “hustle” all the time
71. Fantasy Football is a must.
72. Your belt must match your shoes.
73. Find a good cologne. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Pour Homme has always worked for me. Ditch the Polo and Drakkar Noir or anything sold in the same aisle as Axe Body Wash.
74. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, order spaghetti at an important business meal.
75. Send your Mom your business card.
76. Find a reliable source of current events and stay informed. Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC are not reliable sources. Go for NPR, or the BBC.
77. Remember that half your co-workers voted for the other guy.
78. Vacations are a time to disconnect from work, not a different place to do work. Put down the email, spreadsheets, office updates and enjoy the little time you’ve been given. You owe yourself that. The office will be fine without you. Seriously.
79. Four things to never discuss in the office: sex, politics, religion, and the designated hitter rule. You will never change anybody’s opinion on these things.
80. Using a sick day for a “mental health” day is totally acceptable.
81. Give the bartender a big tip on your first round of drinks. You won’t wait for any round of drinks the rest of the night.
82. Make exercise a priority.
83. Learn how to cook one good meal.
84. Always get it in writing.
* Unless you’re the lead singer of The Rolling Stones or Aerosmith, or the Founder of the company.
13 Ways to Make Your 1-800 Customer Support Not Suck
Let’s face it, the purpose of 1-800 customer support lines are to do everything possible to prevent you from getting customer service. Companies have come to the conclusion (erroneously I think) that somehow talking to customers is a bad thing. They base this belief on the fact that every time they talk to you, it costs them money. That may have made some sense back in the olden days and I would argue that avoiding conversations with your customers is unwise and potentially risky. Why do you want to talk to your customers?
- Customer feedback, when aggregated, can give insight on common problems they face with your product, business, website, etc. In a sense, each conversation becomes its own focus group study. Who wouldn’t want feedback from the very people that are buying and using their products and services? At the very least, it gives the company direction on what issues are most common, what they may need to correct, and in what priority.
- Message Control: If companies won’t provide the customer an outlet to reach them, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, and the hundred other social networks most certainly will. By having a simple and convenient way for me to contact you, I might just not tell my social networks how much I hate you. And inversely…
- My boyish naiveté often gets me in trouble but I have this weird belief that your job as a company doesn’t end after the sale, it begins. Fostering a positive relationship with your customers not only increases the chance of them doing more business with you, it creates an army of advocates of your company and brand that extend across those same networks they might have vented on. And believe me advocates work cheap (note: adversaries also work cheap and often with more vigor and venom)
So in the spirit of pretending to give a crap about providing your customers with good (Note: I didn’t even say ‘great’) customer service, here are the Top 12 Pieces of Advice for Companies that use 1-800 Customer Support Lines:
- Make your phone tree a phone shrub. If it takes me more than 30 seconds to get where I want to go, you’re doing it wrong.
- Don’t tell me that my call is important & then put me on hold for 17 minutes
- If the hold time is 17 minutes, don’t have a 1-800 line. Just send a guy over to punch me in the face, its less painful for me.
- If you insist on putting me on hold, tell me how long I’ll be on hold.
- When I am on hold, DON’’T hammer me with promotions or ads for your products. And for God’s sake don’t hammer me with Musak Hammer me with some Metallica. . Hint: Make my wait as entertaining or painless as possible.
- If I ask the same question everyone else asks, fix that problem until we don’t ask the question anymore, ok Sparky? Fix the most common problems and I guaran-effing-tee that we won’t call you as much.
- If your Operators name is Maruf and works in the Bangladesh Call Center, tell him not to say his name is “Bobby”. I’m good working with Maruf and your not fooling anyone.
- If my call gets dropped for any reason, call me back. Immediately. Sooner if possible.
- I should only have to give you my information once.
- I know I can find answers to your website, but right now I wanna talk to a person though. Make that simple to do.
- If you offer “Do It Yourself” products, make sure you have phone support on weekends. I mean when do you think most “Do It Yourself” projects are done?????
- Don’t grade your operators on how quickly they can get me off the phone, Grade them on my delighted they make me. Trust me this works.
- Extend you customer support model beyond the phone. If don’t offer chat or social media support you’re behind the digital curve. Email/Support Forms? C’mon, we all know that’s the black hole of customer service Hell and if you can’t get back to me with some kind of response within an hour don’t bother with it.
It’s really that easy. We aren’t asking for much. And if you do take care of us, we’ll take care of you.
Internet Summit 2013: The Definitive Summary
This week I attended the Internet Summit in Raleigh, a nice little event here in the Triangle that gathers together some of the brightest digital marketing folks in the area…and few stupid ones. Say what you will about New York, Silicon Valley, and Austin, but this little cow-town has some serious stuff going on and this event continues to grow every year. This year’s edition of the Summit brought the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk, Kevin Pollak, Ben Huh, and Coolio. I’m pretty confident you’ve heard of at least one of these people, but if you don’t, well, be assured that they haven’t heard of you either. The agenda was jam packed with keynotes, panel discussions, tech sessions, and rap music you haven’t heard in 20 years, and as the event was a virtual sellout, I know that many of my colleagues were unable to attend. The good news is that I have an awesome set of observations summarizing everything you need to know about this year’s conference. You’re welcome.
Here’s what you missed:
- The most important thing on the planet that digital marketers need to know is “storytelling”. You can go home now.
- Apple uses its market position to block innovation and uses “old technology” (note: a panel member who listed himself as a Blackberry consultant said this. Seriously.) RELATED: Is being a ‘Blackberry Consultant’ really something you want people to know about?
- Gary Vaynerchuk swears a lot and the over/under on when he drops his first f-bomb in a keynote is currently 30 seconds. Take the under.
- Interesting subjects can be neutered by poor speakers.
- Uninteresting subjects can be made to sound glorious by great speakers.
- “Storytelling” is THE most important thing that digital marketers need to know.
- Daft Punk + Duck Dynasty > Wearable Technology.
- You need to understand Millennials. They want meaningful work, rapid advancement, flexible hours, and frequent accolades and rewards. Oddly enough, so do I, so they can just get the fuck in line behind me.
- There is never enough coffee or power outlets at any conference. It;s the law of the Conference Gods. Get over it
- It’s either going to be too hot or too cold. Bring a blanket and a tank top to cover your bases
- Some companies still believe that tchotchkes are a business model. If the tchotchke flashes it indicates that it’s a high-tech business model.
- All innovation is great until the Marketing Department gets a hold of it. Then it’s fucked.
- Of all the things that digital marketers need to know “storytelling” is the most important of them all.
- Coolio is still alive. Double check your Death Pool picks.
- Whatever boundaries of technology Google Glass is eclipsing, the people who wear them look like attention-hungry douchebags.
- Curiously, speakers who preach about the importance of building and cultivating relationships are usually bombarded with resume-wielding job-hunters immediately upon leaving the stage.
- The preferred speaking attire these days is jeans, with an ill-fitting suit coat over a wrinkled button-down shirt that isn’t tucked in. Pros add a pair of shoes that look like they came from a hipster goodwill store.
- “Storytelling” is very important.
- The world desperately needs laws governing the use of PowerPoint slides and harsh penalties for those that offer slides that look like this:
- Social Media is huge!
- Mobile is even huger!
- Storytelling is the hugiest!
- There’s a guy with a dozen bullet points on his slide telling you that you must be more visual.
- You’re totally not going to get that booth babe’s number no matter how interested you pretend you are in the solution she knows nothing about.
- It’s still in vogue for presenters to use tired examples of bad social media execution and tell the audience “what they would have done”.
- The most popular person at the conference is the one who brought the power bar.
- Once a rare siting, the person with the laptop, iPad and iPhone working concurrently is now sadly commonplace. Because you can never really be too connected.
- Asking the audience to “Give it up” for the speaker should be illegal.
- Asking the audience to raise their hands in response to your questions should be illegal.
- Asking the audience the question, “How many of you are marketers?” followed by “Wrong! You are all marketers!” should be illegal and punishable by a swift kick in the nuts.
- Box lunches suck, particularly the “sampler” pack of macaroni salad.
- Sometimes the conversations on Twitter during a presentation are waaaaay more interesting than the presentation itself.
- Once the conference ends everyone will enthusiastically go back to doing things exactly the way the presenters told them not to do it.
- Oh. Almost forgot. Storytelling. Critical.
Well there you have it. I betcha it feels like you sitting right there with me right? I am sure one of the other attendees will claim that I missed a few things like, you know, key learnings, and new tools and techniques, and evolving digital trends, but I’m pretty damn sure I covered the most important parts. See you next year, when ‘storytelling’ will be soooo 2013 and gurus will laugh at the people who are still doing it.