That’s what we get if we are off the mark. If our products don’t perform or our services are unsatisfactory, our results are zip, zero, zilch – or somewhere in between where we’d like to be and zip, zero or zilch.
It’s also what we get if we learn something new that could help up improve our person, product, presentation or other something and don’t act upon it. Or at least consider it.
I heard recently that a certain email program was better at getting through to my readers than the one I am currently using. So I built a version of my Connections™ newsletter in the new program, which I’ll call “Product B,” which was no small task, and one that I had to pay for the privilege of using even for my test purposes, and sent it out for opinions.
It fared no better than the current version in terms of “opens” and click-through rates. It did a little worse, in fact. And both were sent in the early AM on Mondays so I don’t think timing was a big factor. I got some interesting comments back:
“Either is fine. Go with the one that is easiest for you to use.”
“Format looks better.” (This respondent didn’t say which format looked better!)”
“You are sending out free advice and helping others & you are used to it. Why change?”
“The new one is easier to read and follow with the eye. Maybe it’s because I’m an old guy, but as a marketer, I’ve always felt the content of a communication was more important than the holder. But, if a fancier format makes you money, go with it!”
“Also remember that if you change any of the images you’ve used in past issues, those images will no longer appear in your archive copies. I switched FROM (Product B) TO (Product A).”
“The new format is easier to read.”
“I’ve used (Product A) for years for both profit and non-profit firms. It has been a great asset!”
“This (Product B) version is too busy and requires too much scrolling.”
I’m going to stay with Product A for my monthly newsletter. I’ve looked at the results and I can find absolutely no reason – Zip, Zero, Zilch – to make a change just for the sake of making a change. Especially one that will cost me money, require a new learning curve and not provide the majority of my readers with any discernible advantage.
Was this test a waste of time, effort and money? I don’t think so, because I got valuable experience and information that I didn’t have before and thus would have been trying to make a decision with absolutely no guidance from my readers. And that decision would have been worth Zip, Zero, Zilch.
Do you make decisions with gut feel or based on rumor and without real prospect or customer feedback? Or without doing real tests? Let us hear from you, positive and negative. Because real information is worth lots more than Zip, Zero, Zilch.
We started this year’s A-Z blog series with “A” in The Power of the Word “ASK” and here we are all the way to “Y” for “YOU”. So thank YOU. (I guess if you want to be picky the graphic is more of a “T” than a “Y,” but the text is all “Y.”)
Thank you for reading some or all of these posts over the past four or so months. I’ve enjoyed writing them and hope you’ve found them interesting or informative or instructive or at least inventive. Because they were written for you my readers, fans, detractors, prospects and customers.
That brings me to the point of this post. What I’ve written I’ve tried to make useful for you, the reader. I’ve tried to keep in mind the phrase “What’s in it for them?” – that’s you – when crafting these missives. And I’d suggest that you do the same when you craft your messages for your target markets, because it is all about you and not about me when I write. And for you it is all about them and not about you when you write.
Even the word “you” can help you remember to stay outwardly focused. If I want you to read my posts I need to make sure that they are of interest to you. If they’re not, you simply won’t read them. If I want you to buy my services I have to make sure that there is a tangible benefit to you for doing so and that I explain that tangible benefit not for what it does for me but for what it does for you.
You are the decider of the level of success that I can achieve with my blog and in my business activities. I sincerely hope that you will continue to read, to follow, to comment and, yes, use my services. Thank YOU.
Please share, comment, like or otherwise let someone else know that they are also appreciated by YOU.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see inside the minds of our prospects? To know what stimulates them intellectually and causes their rational minds to reinforce their emotional responses? To find out what messages give them a positive “gut feel” about our products or services? To see where their pain points are so that we can develop new products and services to assuage them?
Alas, we still don’t have the technology to do all of this. So we have to base our marketing decisions on market research, customer surveys, buying behaviors and our own experience, among other things. And that’s not easy in today’s world where we are bombarded with messages and requests for our attention on a minute by minute basis.
I email a newsletter to a little over 1,000 people on a periodic basis. It used to go out every three weeks on Tuesday mornings but the every three week schedule got a little rough to keep up with. And the “Coming Events” part was a little confusing. So I did a survey of my subscribers in January of this year and got the following results:
I only got a 2.5% response rate from that survey, but the results were pretty clear and I changed to a monthly schedule starting the 1st of February. That also rationalized the Volume #, Issue # scheme as a side benefit. But the open rate for the newsletter was still hovering around the industry average of 20% and I’d like to see that rate increase. So I just did another survey to try to get a better handle on some more detail.
This time I asked what day of the week and what time of the day were preferred for receiving the newsletter. Here are the results so far, this time with a 3.1% response rate:
So the newsletter is going to continue to go out in the early morning and it is now going to go out on the Monday closest to the 1st day of the month that it covers. So some months it will go out a little before the 1st or a little after the 1st and some months it will go out right on the 1st. But always on Monday (even though there were a few comments railing against Monday as being too hectic and filled with too much spam) and because data from other marketing experts recommends delivery day consistency.
Is this a perfect methodology? Unfortunately it is not. But it is the closest thing to X-ray vision that we have today in terms of trying to provide our customers with the highest levels of service and satisfaction unless you count the newest trending newsmaker - “BIG DATA.” Big data is supposed to provide us, its proponents say, with the kind of x-ray vision that will let us really read our prospects and customers minds. More about that in a future blog post.
What’s your view on this topic? Please don’t be shy about commenting, and thanks for reading.
I’m not wondering why the sky is blue. I already know that. You probably do too. I’m not wondering why thunder takes time to arrive after lightning is seen. I already know that. And you probably do too. There are lots of very scientific and very well proven answers to a great many “why” questions. And “Why” can be a very powerful question as I wrote about in a previous blog post. But tonight I’m wondering why about some other things.
Why, for example, are we so reticent in asking for help from other people? Why do we bang our heads against walls doing something we don’t really know how to do well? Why do we spend inordinate amounts of time doing something that others could do for us in a jiffy? Why do we undertake projects that subsequently require experts to come in to complete or repair? And typically at considerable extra cost compared to what it would have taken to hire someone to do the job right the first time.
I know I do it sometimes. I bet you do too. And there are lots of reasons for it. I got an email today that listed many of them:
- You won’t invest in yourself.
- You have too many excuses.
- You have too many mindset issues.
- You don’t think long term.
- You can’t afford their fees.
- You want a discount on their fees.
- You don’t pay on time.
- You whine about the work being too hard.
The sender of this email ostensibly wanted me to be angry at people – not them, of course – who characterize me like this. But that sender really wanted to make me feel guilty for not subscribing to their service because of those reasons. I’m still not sure how angry I am, if at all, at people who think I fall into the categories listed above or whether I’m really angry at this attempt to manipulate me. I am myself, after all, someone who could wonder why you haven’t engaged my services yet. Is it for one of the above reasons?
I’m wondering why someone would send me an email trying to make me feel guilty instead of pointing out the benefits I’d get from using their services. I’m wondering why they think I’m stupid enough to be manipulated like this. I’m wondering why they think people will respond to this kind of email. And I’m wondering why a lot of people probably will.
Are you wondering why about something? Please share it with us. And thanks for reading.
Can you name some things that these adjectives describe? Choose any one and the task is fairly simple.
A voracious animal – or human, for that matter – is one that consumes or is eager to consume great amounts of food. Someone or something with a ravenous appetite. Not necessarily for food alone, for a person could also have a voracious appetite for money or power or fame or some other thing.
Something – or someone – that is vexing is someone or something that causes distress or worry or frustration. Something irritating, annoying, troubling or distressing. Like lack of information or lack of money or being placed in a situation with no apparently favorable outcome.
Listing things that are very, very necessary can cover a lot of ground depending upon your context. Clothing is necessary for protection from the elements. Food and water are necessary in order to sustain life. Cash flow is necessary for the continued operation of a business, as are ongoing revenues and profits.
There is, however, something that I think we all encounter on a daily basis that is all three of these things together, and that thing is marketing. Marketing has a voracious appetite for content, for messaging, for resources and for money. Marketing can be very vexing because there are often conflicting needs, conflicting messages and competition for scarce resources. And one thing is for sure: Marketing is very, very necessary to the success of a business.
Feeding this voracious beast can consume a tremendous amount of time and effort in both the creation of content and in exposing that content via the myriad media options available to us. I don’t even want to count the number of options available because that number would be obsolete by the time you read this post.
Selecting the right media for our messages of course depends heavily on our products or services, our messages and our target markets. We need to make sure that the media we choose is one that our target markets are comfortable with, use on a regular basis and will respond to positively. Will our prospects respond best to visual, auditory or kinesthetic types of messages? This will also affect our media selections. A vexing problem indeed.
And while feeding the voracious beast and solving the vexing problems are certainly challenges, they are also certainly very, very necessary. For without marketing activities our lights are hidden under the proverbial baskets, our prospects know nothing about us or our products or services and we have no mechanism for making any money.
I’d love to hear how you deal with these issues and I imagine others would as well. Please do take time to share your comments.
There’s a new model showing up on the Internet that I find extremely disturbing and I want to “out” it right now. Usury is usually defined as the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loans, typically because of extraordinarily high – e.g., usurious – interest rates. But I am seeing a new model of operation for many organizations that, while it doesn’t have anything to do with loans, has a lot to do with practices that I find bordering on the unethical or immoral.
These so-called “service providers” will give you a platform, an outlet, a website with tens or hundreds of thousands or even millions of “subscribers” who are hungry for your content. They’ve set up sophisticated systems that you’d be a fool to try to duplicate. But they can take your content, for a fee, and feed it to their audience, thereby giving you “tremendous exposure” and some clicks back to your blog or website.
Then they take their “content rich” outlet and sell the huge number of clicks that it’s going to generate because of the richness of the content that you paid them to publish to a bunch of advertisers who may also someday see a few clicks, and maybe even some purchases, from the Internet public. Unethical? I don’t know. Immoral? I don’t know. Fair? I don’t think so. But maybe that’s just because I just wish I’d thought of it first?
The people offering these schemes will teach you how to become rich and live in a tropical paradise if you only buy their lessons on how to do what they’ve done (which is to sell lessons to gullible people searching for outlets for their content without doing the work that it takes to make that happen) and continue to supply them with “free” content – content free to them but for which you must expend your valuable time and energy!
There are variations on this theme. For only $xxx you can become an “exclusive” or “featured” content supplier. Or you can be a “host” for an Internet-based radio or TV show. With access to the tools that will let you reach your desired audience (as if you couldn’t do it with a Google hangout or some other free or low-cost mechanism). You’re going to be a STAR! You’re going to outshine any competition that might be out there! You’re going to become rich and famous overnight! Be a winner with no work on your part! You don’t want to stay in the loser category of people who haven’t accepted this foolproof offer yet, do you?
Damn! I wish I’d thought of this myself a while ago. But wait! Maybe it’s not too late! Send me your content, dear reader, along with some money. I’ll post it on my blog instead of having to write these things myself. And if your stuff really takes off, I’ll reap some really cool profits. Don’t wait! This offer will expire very soon! Scoop.it
Did you know that there are five major theories covering the question of what is a proper basis for deciding how words, symbols, ideas and beliefs may properly be considered true? That kind of puts the old-fashioned “it’s a fact” definition in a new light.
In psychology, trust is the belief that the person who is trusted will do what is expected. I think that trusting someone has to be predicated upon believing that a person, or an entity, is telling the truth about something, even if that truth is that the outcome of a transaction may not be fully known when the trust is bestowed.
In the business world we are most often engaged in transactions. Wikipedia says that a financial transaction, which is one of the most common transactions in the business world, is an agreement, communication, or movement carried out between a buyer and a seller to exchange an asset for payment. It involves a change in the status of the finances of two or more businesses or individuals. The buyer and seller are separate entities or objects, often involving the exchange of items of value, such as information, goods, services, and money.
So how do you decide whether or when to enter into a transaction, and with whom you will enter into it? I know – and therefore it is the truth for me – that I will only enter into transactions with people or organizations that I know, like and, most importantly, trust. How do I develop my belief – the truth for me – about those people and organizations? It is by meeting them, or having them recommended by someone who I trust, or as a result of past experience (which only works after the conclusion of a successful transaction).
Transactions involving the exchange of information or the performance of services are much harder to evaluate because there are many more unknowns involved than when we are simply exchanging goods for money. Will the information be accurate? Will it be timely? Will it be relevant? Will the services be performed as advertised? Will they be what was actually needed? Will they be worth the money they cost?
The only way I know how to answer those questions is to put my trust in those who seem to have the knowledge and experience to deliver what is promised. A trust that must initially rely upon someone elses truth. A someone else who I trust. So you can see the complicated interaction between truth, trust and transactions.
How do you answer these questions? We’d love to hear your opinions so don’t be shy with your comments. Thanks for reading.
Building credibility in an online world can be a real ongoing challenge. One of the ways you can use to overcome that challenge is to incorporate customer success stories into your content strategies for your website, blog and social media outlets.
Customer success stories can follow a fairly simple format. Start with the problem to be solved, explain the solution that was implemented and list the benefits the customer received, preferably in quantitative terms (e.g., (time saved or dollars earned or saved).
If you are doing a blog post where you have lots of room to present the story this process is pretty simple. The same may or may not be true for your website depending upon its design. For your social media posts you’ll need to keep things very short with a link to the longer stories.
You’ll want to include graphics and customer logos and quotations or testimonial statements whenever possible to add visual appeal and solid credibility. Perhaps you can add a video to go a little deeper into the story. This is especially effective if the video includes the customer extolling the virtues of your solution instead of you bragging on your own.
Another way to build credibility is to demonstrate your expertise through book authorship or teaching a course. I’ve put an online course together on a site called Udemy entitled The Marketing Plan Seminar and I’m giving away the first five hundred copies to demonstrate my skills in the marketing strategy arena. If you’d like to take the course at no cost, simplyorder it now and use coupon code “Free4me” to get a $79 discount off the $79 price. It’s as simple as that and it’s my gift to you if you are one of the first five hundred people to order it before the offer expires on March 31, 2013.
Please let me know what you think of this post, and of the course if you take it, and feel free to share this post – and the offer — with others who might benefit from it. I really do value your comments.
While trying to choose an “R” word for this post I considered reality, responsibility, relativity, respect and several others but decided on responsive as a particularly apropos topic in that I could talk about a lot of the other “R” words using responsive as the context. See what you think.
What do your clients or customers expect in terms of responsiveness? Do they expect you to respond instantly to their every need, whim or desire? It they do you might consider them the customer from hell if they provide you with little revenue but with lots of grief. On the other hand if you are making seven figures from them you might be willing to ask how high they’d like you to jump in satisfying their requests. So I guess in this respect responsiveness is relative.
When do your clients and customers expect you to respond to them? Responsive for one can be construed as extreme tardiness for another. If your service level agreement, for example, specifies 24/7 service and they find that no one is available at 2 AM on a Sunday morning when they are getting ready for a major announcement on Monday then they will probably consider you non-responsive. If, on the other hand, you’ve trained them to expect to wait days for a return phone call then calling them back the same day might be considered wonderfully responsive. So responsiveness can indeed by relative.
Another consideration when it comes to responsiveness is how you respond. Do you use a CRM or auto respond system or do you provide a personal response to requests via website or email? Do you have a “feature rich” (i.e. overly complex) menu driven telephone system where it is virtually – or even literally – impossible to get to a human being? Or do you have a person answering the phone? It may be “cheaper” to lay off the phone answering employees and use an automated system, but that really depends on the criteria you use to define “cheaper.” The bean counters probably aren’t including churn and attrition due to severe customer dissatisfaction in the calculation but it could be having a huge impact on the company’s revenues.
What do you consider to be responsive in your business? Do your customers agree with you? Do you know if they agree with you? If not, they may be feeling that you don’t really respect their needs and you won’t really know that unless you figure out that very few of them are remaining repeat customers. And that’s way too late in the life cycle of your business to find out because by then it’s likely that you will be at the end of it way too soon!
I’d love to read your responses to this post. Please do comment below or send me a message via the website contact form. I promise you that I will respond to you – promptly, courteously and in full. Thanks for reading. Scoop.it
We’re up to the letter “Q” in the 2013 “alphabet” series where I promised to pick 26 topics, all in alphabetical order. While the topics have changed on occasion due to the vagaries of the creative muse, we’ve held true to the sequence. Until now…
I spent some time today putting together a set of small videos that I’d like to share with you. Some have to do with free offers – the website Event Calendar and the Marketing Strategy Development e-Book – and others have to do with asking you to spend some money with me.
The very inexpensive offers are The Piano Story and the Marketing Plan and Marketing Strategy Worksheets. Very inexpensive and very, very useful to you.
The more expensive offers have to do with the Instant Strategy Session and the Monthly Mentoring Mode. Certainly more costly but much more in depth and personalized service for you.
I’d love to do business with you and I hope you’ll both enjoy these short videos and respond to their calls for action. Because I could use the business and I’m betting that you could use the help!
Thanks for reading – and watching. And please do let me know what other products and services that you would find useful.