Kind and Tough, How a Boss should be

I read an interview with Kathy Button Bell in the NY Times yesterday.  She is Chief Marketing Officer at Emerson.

She talks about being coached by the U.S. Olympic Lacrosse coach during her time at Princeton:

Kind and Tough, How a Boss should be
“She just knew how to inspire you to do more. The thing she always tried to teach me to do is not say I’m sorry. I was so painfully polite, and if I missed a pass or something I’d apologize. She said, “You need to get over that.” She was kind and tough, which are maybe the two best things that a boss could be.”

And on focus:

Just do the top three things
“The mistake people make is they try to do everything. Dave Farr, our C.E.O., says that if you have a to-do list of 10 things, rip it and do three. Just do three.”

Have a great day.  What are your three things for the day?

How to tell if you have a good idea

A good idea? or…?

Greg Digneo of Cloud Marketing Lab wrote a beautifully simple explanation over at Triiibes of how to test an idea before you spend any money building.  Even “small” ideas like hosting a webinar or writing a short/free ebook to give away on your blog can be tested even before putting time into creating it.

4 Steps to Test an idea

Here’s what Greg does:

  1. Use Unbounce to create a simple landing page. You are trying to get the idea tested as quickly as possible, not creating a landing page work of art.  Basic templates work fine.  (no affiliation with unbounce, just like their product).  You get 30 days for free which is more than enough time to test your idea.
  2. Marketing to consumers? Buy Facebook ads.  They generally cost less than $1.00 per click. Marketing to a specific business function?   Use Linkedin ads.  They generally cost around $3.00 per click.
  3. Test and tweak the ads and the landing page for about a week. Include weekends. You’d be surprised at how much activity happens on a Saturday and Sunday.
  4. If there is enough interest in that week, then implement the idea.  If not, then you’ve wasted a few bucks (learnt a lesson) and not ploughed a lot of time into something that no one wants.

Test an idea.  Surely you have one?  Try it.  Nothing to lose.  Maybe a big gain.
Have a great weekend – and do some cheap tests of your ideas before you spend any time writing business plan, developing code, doing UI design.  Please.  Only Kevin Costner can do “Build it and They will Come”.

Thanks to Greg for sharing these simple steps.

Why do customers leave?

I am in IESE’s Aula Magna in Barcelona with the EMBA class of 2011.  Sebastian Escarrer, Vice President of Sol Melia (they have 300 hotels with 35,000 employees in 30 countries) is speaking to the group about the challenges facing family businesses, and business leaders in the current times.

One slide that I found of great interest was information from Sol Melia on why their customers stop using their hotels:

  • 1%      Death
  • 3%      Move
  • 5%      Influence of friends
  • 9%      Switch to the Competition
  • 14%    Dissatisfaction with product
  • 68%    Feel they have been treated with indifference by company employees.
7 out of 10 customers lost due to indifference of front-line employees.
Indifference from company employees is the destroyer of value.  A great product, a great price, good referrals…  all lead to nothing if my first interaction with a company is with a frustrated employee who does not care about me.
I wonder how much Sol Melia have invested in “product” – 300 hotels?  
I wonder how much Sol Melia have invested in developing employee attitude?  Would it reach even 1% of what is invested in land and buildings?

Get your customers to do your best marketing for you Part 1 of 4: Nobody talks about boring businesses

I recently listened to John Jantsch speak about his new book “The referral engine: Teaching your Business to Market itself“. This post is part of a series of 4 that provide the valuable insights that I drew from his words.

The power of word of mouth
John spends a lot of time out talking to small business owners and found that in contrast to large corporates, most small businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups say the bulk of their customers come from word of mouth.  They come because of another customer’s recommendation.

If you run a small business or are an entrepreneur, this then is key.  How do you make a business highly referable?  How can you create a system so that referrals happen consistently?

John outlines 6 “realities” of the world that we can use to build our referral system:

  1. People make referrals because they need to.  We are wired this way.  It builds my social capital if I can share valuable, useful services with friends that need them.
  2. Referral is a big risk– a referral means that I am loaning trust to your organisation.  This level of trust is more important with doctor or lawyer than with a decent local restaurant.  Companies can reduce perceived referral risk through consistency of service delivery.
  3. Nobody talks about boring businesses.  Will I talk about your service, people or company at a party or over lunch? What is unique? What is special?
  4. Consistency builds trust.  Steps: 1) Know a person 2) Like the person 3) Trust the person. I have to get to know you, then to like you before I begin to trust you.  Any surprises along the path and I will not reach “trust”.
  5. Marketing is a system.  Digital interactivity is at the center of marketing.  It is not alone, but cannot be avoided in today’s Web 2.0 world.  The marketing concept of the customer funnel is broken and needs replacement.
Key insight:  Nobody talks about boring businesses.

I will continue this series next week with part 2: “Get your customers to do your best marketing for you Part 2: The marketing funnel is broken“.

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