Thursday, November 13, 2014

Your marketing is boring your best customers

Too much marketing is boring.

Too many Facebook posts are preachy, company-centric, and they read as if the writer is more interested in fulfilling an editorial quota than in having a dialog.. Web sites are so jargon-laden that a potential customer has no idea what the company does.

Reality check: If you have stopped paying attention to your company's marketing message, chances are so have your customers and best prospects.

How does this happen? Here are the most typical reasons:

  • The marketing team doesn't understand the personality and culture of your company (or even worse, your company doesn't have consensus about its own culture)
  • Marketing is kept out of key discussions and can't speak authoritatively about the product (service, mission, purpose)
  • Marketing is shunted off to a side and never interacts with sales, with customers, with prospects
  • You are over-managing the marketing projects to the point where the team has no sense of personal responsibility
  • You don't have clear expectations about what marketing should be accomplishing
Marketing should meet a need, not just be "doing stuff." It is your voice, your personal interaction with customers, potential customers, and the larger community.

Don't be the pompous bore at the table who is mostly irrelevant and largely meaningless.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Are you fussing over the wrong things?

Marketers love to tout numbers, fiddle with strategies, show off results come up with quadrants and metrics and show upper management lots of data.

But marketing effectiveness isn't in all those good things. It's in what you do with the information you gather, how you apply it, how you put it to work to evaluate what you've done and modify what you are going to do. 

Collecting and dissecting numbers can lead to fussing over information just because the information is available. Don't do it.

If you look at a percentage of open rates in an email, look at the same percentage of open rates in the past, and put a written plan in place to test improving that open rate in the next mailing. If you look at how many people filled out a web form, compare it to the previous campaign, and decide if the form is worth testing again in the future.

Think about what you need to know to get better results. Think about the difference between marketing that preens like a child beauty contestant and real marketing that results in a return on investment.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

It's too easy to just change the battery

My watch stopped. I was at lunch with Josh and Dru, and looked down and my watch had stopped at 11:55.

I knew it was a simple battery change, a routine. Fixing it would eat up 45 minutes and $10. Simple adjustment. As a marketer, I'm always interested whether they will offer me supplemental services when I have a watch battery changed: polish the silver band, clean the inner workings, change the scratch crystal.

The next day I drove over to the watch repair shop. They opened at 10 a.m. I was there at 9:58. The repairman took the watch, and less than four minutes later returned it with a new battery. No upsell, and I was in-and-out. All this guy wanted to do was just change the battery.  And in fact, as the customer who had a busy Saturday planned, that's about all I wanted.

Watch is running fine, but it got me thinking.

Marketing is like that. It's expected that things will stop working. You can anticipate it and keep it adjusted all along the way. Or you can wait til until certain touch points, then do what needs to be done.

But real marketing takes place when you put in the work to do what really needs to be done to keep your marketing at the optimum level.  It's more than just a battery change.

 It's an examination of the entire process, what's working, what needs to be done to take it to a new level.  It starts with an attitude, a commitment within the company to  the ongoing work of excellence, and the willingness of all departments to periodically make sure everything is done well.

Too many companies give themselves excuses: we don't have time (money, resources) to really think about this right now. Next time.Next month. Next year.

Is it time to get real? 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How to write an effective testimonial

Case studies and testimonials can be a great asset to a business, but not if they are too vague or too detailed.  Here is a format I created for a nonprofit climate that has stories coming in from multiple locations and staff.

Writing an Effective Testimonial

·         First sentence:  Who, what, when, where, why

·         Second sentence:  Provide color/background/conflict

·         Third Sentence: Explain how Campaign helped

·         Fourth Sentence: Share the result/impact

·         Fifth Sentence: Wrap it up with a conclusion

·         (Optional: include a quote given by the member/participant)

Example 1:
15-year-old Jay came to [name of program] in September, 2011 because a friend told him it would look good on a college application. Jay was a C student but first generation in this country and had hopes of being able to get a scholarship to San Jose State when the time came. He couldn’t afford the cost of the program, but because of donors like you, the staff assured him he could attend.]    By this year, Jay has pulled his grades to a 3.5 average, and wants to become a lawyer, on his way to becoming President of the United States. He’s starting by running for youth governor this year. We have dozens of great stories like Jay, people whose lives are touched every time you make a donation. Watch for Jay in the future. One day, you may be voting for him!

Example 2:
Martha is a 50 year old woman whose doctor diagnosed her with [disease] who contacted [the branch or field office] in September, 2013 asking for advice on [a specialty of the organization.]  She wasn’t hopeful that she could really make a difference in her own life, wince she had a lifetime of bad habits that were making her feel worse. She also wanted to take part in a counseling program where a one-on-one counselor could help coach her, but since Martha didn’t have insurance she wasn't sure how to pay for it. Because of [fund raising program name] the cost of the program was covered by donations. Within the first 3 months, she had reached the program goals of [outline the results] and is is now attending monthly maintenance classes.  Her doctor told her she’s lowered her risk [or diminished the severity of her disease]  by 58%. She’s shared her success with everyone in her family, and because she is aware of how important it is to eat right and exercise, now has a weekly plan in place for her children.

Thursday, September 3, 2009 Launches 2009 “Best of Local” Awards Program and Weekly Prize Drawing announced its second annual Best of Local program - featuring the top businesses as rated by consumers in 15 cities and 20 categories across the U.S., with rankings established based on the quantity and quality of the reviews that have been submitted by visitors to Winners will be selected and announced in December 2009.

In addition, the company launched a Best of Local weekly drawing for a $500 Visa® gift card. Visitors who write a valid review on a local business at will be automatically entered to win.

Best of Local award recipients will receive program related recognition and publicity in addition to an official Best of Local certificate, official Best of Local window decals to display at their business, the official Best of Local icon displayed on their business listing at, their business listed on the official Best of Local winners page and enhanced SEO for their business listing.

The Best of Local program will rank local businesses in 15 cities throughout the U.S. including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

The 2009 Best of Local program will run from September 1, 2009 through November 24, 2009.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

City of San Jose envisioning the future - help by taking a survey

If you live in Silicon Valley (or visit here often) help the city leaders catch your vision of the future by taking this survey: The Envision San Jose 2040 General Plan Update.

1) Go to
2) Enter your email address
3) Type in the password: 2040

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Intuit launches Love a Local Business sweepstakes

Your local business loves you. Don’t you think it’s time you start loving them back?

Supporting local businesses can have a significant impact on your community economically -- in fact, a September 2008 CivicWorks study of Western Michigan found that a mere 10% shift in consumer behavior towards local businesses would add around $137 million to the local economy and creates more than 1,600 new jobs.

In a nationwide effort to help support the growth of small businesses, Intuit announced the launch of its “Love a Local Business” sweepstakes. Fans of local small businesses can nominate their favorite hometown haunt, which will make them eligible for a drawing to win a $1,000 Intuit Growth Grant, which includes a $500 Visa gift card and $500 in Intuit business services, such as Intuit Websites and Web Listings.

In addition, each business that is nominated will appear on a custom Google Map displaying favorite businesses from across the country. To submit your favorite neighborhood shop, go to
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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Attn: California entrepreneurs - check out California Business Ascent

California Business Ascent is a statewide business initiative to spur innovation. It also offers a competition for entrepreneurial growth companies from diverse geographies representing multiple industry sectors and stages of development.

Companies participate in regional innovation showcase events, which include 5-7 minute pitches to a panel of investors that are streamed via live web video to a national audience. The top three winners from each showcase, as judged by a panel of investors and industry experts, are automatically entered in the state championships Nov. 17-18 in San Diego.

Winners will garner national media attention, be awarded a package of valuable professional services, and be honored by California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency for excellence in entrepreneurship and innovation within their respective industry sectors.

Any company seeking capital, talent, visibility or access to industry expertise will benefit from the process of competing in this statewide business challenge.
photo: creative commons

Monday, May 25, 2009

15 ways to promote your company

Logo of the U.S. government's Small Business A...

Looking for ways to promote your business? You don't have to have the budget of a General Foods to get the message out to your customers.

Here's an article from the Small Business Administration (SBA) that outlines great ideas -- every single one of them the type of "real marketing" that can make a difference.

15 Foolproof Ideas for Promoting Your Company includes ideas such as:
  • contests
  • newsletters
  • demonstrations
  • seminars
  • premiums
  • speeches

Take a minute to check out what else SBA offers.

Sharon Hill, the Phoenix entrepreneur who is currently in beta with her ambitious undertaking, YoreTown, was the first to hammer home to me the importance of SBA (Small Business Administration) resources.

After all, she points out, they are free, smart, have deep experience and really know their way around starting a business. (Plus, it can't hurt to be sure you are on the right side of the government from the start).

If you have always poo-poohed government agencies as having only canned advice, take another look.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Are you reaching the "older" online market

The May 21 Wall Street Journal ran an article about the Forgotten Market Online, women over 35.

The fastest growing segment of Facebook users is women over 55, ... and 65% of online apparel sales go to women over age 35, according to market researcher NPD Group. Among these, the fastest growing sales are to women between 55 and 64 years old

Online sales to women aged 25-35 fell 8% in the year ended in March, but sales to 55-to-64-year-olds rose 11%.

Saks Fifth Avenue's website, the average age of an online customer is 42, and she spends an average of $400 when she visits.

So here's the point: if you hunting for customers, be sure to consider how you can reach these buyers.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Support the arts in San Jose at May 12 City Council meeting

Please join the San Jose Arts Alliance* to show your support for arts:
7 p.m.
San Jose City Council meeting
Tuesday, May 12
San Jose City Hall
At this meeting, the council begins its public hearing on the proposed budget for FY 09-10 and this is our opportunity to show support for arts funding.

Background: At a budget study session May 7, District 3 Council member Sam Liccardo proposed that the city look for ways to shore up funding for arts organizations, and other council members supported this proposal. Now it’s our turn.

Here's what you can do:
  • Come to the City Council meeting
  • Wear a black shirt
The Arts Alliance will provide a sticker with a red letter A that says "Support SJ Arts."

The message is simple - the arts add value to our city and we are requesting that the City find ways to shore up the declining Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT, or hotel tax) to ensure our grants remain at the current levels. Click

* Members of the Arts Alliance include: Abhinaya Dance Company of San JoseBay Area Glass InstituteChinese Performing Artists of AmericaCinequestCity Lights Theater CompanyChildren's Musical TheaterMACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino AmericanaSan Jose Chamber OrchestraSan Jose Institute of Contemporary ArtSan Jose Stage CompanySan Jose TaikoSan Jose Youth SymphonyTapestry ArtsTeatro VisionSan Jose Museum of Quilts & TextilesSan Jose Jazz

Sunday, April 12, 2009

AT&T says they "miss me" - where'd I go?

I moved my internet connectivity to AT&T in 2005 (then it was SBC) when an Earthlink support person recommended I disable my anti-virus software to help Earthlink run more efficiently.

The next day, I called Comcast and SBC.

Because Comcast bewildered me, and SBC made it easy, I switched my account to them and have stayed ever since.

In the past few months, however, I've received two AT&T emails with the subject line: "Amy, we've missed you!"

It's very frustrating - and a little scary - to think my internet provider doesn't know I'm a customer.

Maybe that's why I can't get answers to my questions; why I can't get the "highest level" speed for which I'm paying; why the anti-virus protection AT&T offers keeps clogging my computer. Are there special prices, products and services I could get if AT&T recognized me as a customer? If they have a system wide problem will I not be notified?

Should I check into Comcast again (oh, great, the company that can't even live up to a promise with its tv service).

It's not the worst marketing I've even seen, but it is pretty bad. For wasting my time, for communicating poorly, and for giving me reason to reconsider my relationship with them, I say to AT&T, "Get real."