In case you missed last week, here is your one stop review of all things from WeirdGuy blog. Have fun!
Mark Cuban started an interesting discussion about blogging and following vs. leading in regard to content generation. The rules have changed and media as we know it is changing — vying for the ever elusive “repeat customer” and the income that they can bring [my reading between the lines]. Below is an excerpt of the article from Mark’s site. I encourage you to read it. Feel free to come back to WeirdGuy and let me know your thoughts.
If you blog, regardless of what software you use, you are a blogger and what you produce is a blog. If you want to call yourself a columnist, so be it. If you are a reporter in a 1 page internet only publication, yes you are.
From there, only one question comes up. Why. Why ? Why do you do what you do. Is it because:
You get paid to do it ?
Because you want to promote something or to promote yourself ?
Because you want to start a discussion ?
Because you want to communicate with customers, fans or ??
Because its a way to say whats on your mind ?
Because you want to make money from it ?
I’m sure there are other reasons to communicate on the web. What software you use, even whether you use video, text and/or pictures, really doesn’t matter.
What matters is why you do what you do.
For most of us, we start on the furthest reaches of the long tail of all content. To make money from whatever it is we produce is not only difficult, its near impossible. To get off the long tail is near impossible as well. Only a few will ever find their way to a point of generating enough consumers of our content to have any choice in whether we monetize or influence a material number of people. Others of us will still be in the long tail, but have influence in a small verticial segment important only to those who already know us, or come to know us. Its possible to be a big player in a small pool, and get paid for it, still reside on the long tail.
The hope by all on the longtail is that the “quality” of the publication will garner enough consumers to move them off. Like the artist whose art is better, the band or musician whose music is better, the producer, director or actor whose video is better. Everyone hopes that quality of content is the final arbiter of attraction and success.
The worst part of it all is that when you are on the long tail, it takes a lot of money or luck to get off and 99.99pct , never get off. Which is exactly the definition of the longtail.
Thats for individuals.
For corporations who publish on the web (as opposed to aggregate 3rd party content), again, regardless of what content management software they use, or what they call themselves, the longtail is death. If you are a blogger, and you work for a major media company, you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth. You are granted a platform with traffic. Thats the good news. The bad news is that you also have ratings. If you can’t hold your traffic or build upon it, you better hope you generate sufficient value in other places, or your days of publishing on the web may be numbered. For those of you who haven’t noticed, paid bloggers do come and go from media websites if they don’t produce. But wait, there is worse news.
A room without books is like a body without a soul.
This video from Digital Ethnology demonstrates the changing paradigm of content/information transfer and their inter-relationship with our shifting lifestyles.
After watching it, tell me what you think will be our greatest challenges over the next 10 years. Comment below.
By E. Brown
How many times have you been to a networking event and felt that everyone you met wanted something from you? You leave thinking, “I thought this was a networking occasion, not a sales affair.” Maybe, you have been in the other shoes and looked at networking events as a place to dig up sales and business leads. If a person didn’t show interest in what you had to offer, you had no time for them and moved on to the next person/opportunity.
Another way to think of networking events is to think of them as relationship building events. Instead of wanting something from the people you meet – how about wanting something for the people you meet?
Does this concept seem upside-down to you? For instance, why is it we expect people to treat us with respect and show interest in us when we do not reciprocate? This tells something about our motivation, doesn’t it?
So, what are we to do? Certainly, we want networking to be worth our time and effort. We want it to profitable – right?
I suggest the relational approach. Be genuinely interested in others first. Find out what they do and how you can help them succeed. Anne Baber and Lynn Waymon offer several excellent suggestions in their book, Make Your Contacts Count, about building a relational network. Teach your contacts that you can be trusted by letting them see 1) your character, and 2) your competence.
• Be unfailingly reliable
• Meet deadlines
• Go for the win/win solution
• Treat everyone you meet fairly
• Speak well of people even when they are not present
• Collaborate rather than compete
• When something goes wrong, make it right
• Compensate generously for your failure
• Go the extra mile
• Respect other people’s time and possessions
• Have earned the proper credentials
• Stay at the leading edge of your profession
• Have won praise and awards from your peers
• Take life-long learning seriously
• Are cited as an expert in the trade press or mass media
• Teach or mentor others
• Consult with others to share expertise
• Do the job right the first time
• Handle the “little stuff” with care
• Follow through to make sure you meet or exceed expectations
Next time you come away from a networking event you will be more fulfilled. You will have started numerous new relationships that will pay big dividends in the end. You will experience a good reputation – one who can be trusted, can get the job done, and is looking out for the success of others.
What else could you ask for?
I just saw this on my friends blog and had to share. Maybe this explains why I like dogs more than cats. Enjoy!
By E. Brown
We like to have background noise — whether we’re in the car, at home, or in the office — we have the radio or TV on or the sounds of kids and coworkers keep a constant white noise. How many of us like quiet and solitude? How many like introspection?
More often than not, our outer life is the result of our inner life. Try as we might to hide certain aspects of ourselves, our character and motivations leak out. Do we like what we see? Do others? Here are four tips that will change your inner life and, consequently, impact your outer life:
- Allow time to spend in solitude and silence.
- Surround yourself with good counselors — this includes family, friends, and professionals.
- Strive for balance in your personal life, family life, and work life — prioritize your time.
- Be accountable to someone(s) — a life examined is a successful life.
In case you missed last week, here is your one stop review of all things from WeirdGuy blog. Have fun!
By Kelly Watkins | Keep Customers
1. It is cheaper to solve the problem. It costs six times more to obtain a new customer than it does to retain a current one. Keep the customers you have. (New research: it can cost up to ten times more!)
2. Realize complaints are good. Only 4% of upset customers complain. The other 96% simply leave and never come back. A complaint gives you the opportunity to resolve the situation.
3. Create a customer for life. When you solve a problem by meeting (or exceeding) expectations, you develop customer loyalty. (However, please don’t go start problems, just so you can solve them and create loyal customers!)
4. The customer is always . . . the customer. Do not say to yourself “the customer is right.” That implies you are wrong. Instead, remind yourself that this person is a valued customer, and you need to do whatever it takes to satisfy him/her.
5. Offer alternatives. Instead of saying, “This is the only thing I can do,” try saying, “Here are two options.” The customer may not be thrilled with the selections, but at least he/she gets to make the choice.
6. Laugh – after the customer leaves. In the end, most of these incidents are funny. Look for the humor after the situation is resolved. Laughter is a great way to reduce stress and relieve tension.
7. Do not solve the problem right away. What?!?! Fight the urge to jump in and solve the problem. The customer’s initial objective is to “vent” and express emotion. Listen first, then offer solutions. If you interrupt too soon, the person will not be ready to listen to you or to accept your resolutions.
8. Do not get defensive. When you hear the words “upset customer,” it is natural to put up your guard. Instead, keep an open mind. You’ll be more receptive to listening.
9. Do not take it personally. Easier said than done! Keep in mind that most people have not been taught how to “complain properly.” Customers know they are upset, but they do not know how to tell you nicely. Even if it sounds as though you are being attacked, customers are not mad at you personally. They are upset at the situation.
10. Keep it in perspective. You may have served 50 cheerful people today. Do not let one bad-tempered person ruin the whole day.
Source: Kelly J. Watkins, www.keepcustomers.com
By Bob Harris | The Attrition Busters
Many business owners and managers seem to be ignoring the main signs that customer service quality isn’t as good as it should be, according to Bob Harris, managing director for The Attrition Busters, who has compiled a list of the six key signs to watch out for.
Businesses that deal with consumers seem to be suffering from a definite disconnect between the level of service they want to provide and the service that their employees actually provide.
Six Signs of Poor Service
As a result, Harris suggests the following six key signs that customer service may be in need of some attention – and most probably some staff training – to help restore the customer’s faith:
1. Poor employee retention
If employees are leaving too quickly (i.e. within three years), there can be no real opportunity for them to build up relationships with customers. Knowledge about individual customers leaves the company with every lost employee. If this is the case, consider bringing in an outside HR (human resources) consultant to talk to employees and find out what needs to be done to change the situation; employees will often tell an ‘outsider’ things that they would never tell their manager.
2. Customer complaints
On average, only around 6% of dissatisfied customers will actually take the time to complain. So, out of all the customers who encounter a problem, 94% won’t tell you (but they’ll tell their friends and family, of course). When these dissatisfied customers do gather the strength to actually complain, many front line employees have a natural instinct to refer the customer to someone else or, worse still, to deny that there’s really a problem. So if management sees that there are very few complaints, that doesn’t mean that customer service is perfect at all. If employees have not built relationships with customers, many customers will defect without any further prompting. Make sure that your front line teams are required to record all complaints and any action taken to solve them. Complaints data should be treasured, documented, and shared with management. If you’re not getting complaint data from the front line, there’s a serious problem.
3. Employees aren’t empowered to handle problems
Unless front line employees are empowered to resolve customer complaints and problems without resorting to calling supervisors or referring the customer to a manager, customer service – and the company’s reputation – will suffer greatly. Customer issues should be handled from start to finish by the same person if at all possible. Customers do not want to wait or, even worse, be transferred to multiple people to have their problems solved. There is nothing worse than having to repeat the problem over and over again to different people. This is where you need employee training and empowerment: give the whole customer-facing team the knowledge, tools, and authority they need to defuse angry customers.
4. Loss of long-term customers
When a long-term customer leaves, you need to notice it and query it. When you have built a long-term relationship with a customer, your ability to retain that customer significantly increases. So when a customer who would normally give you the benefit of the doubt takes their business elsewhere, the problem is almost always the service they’ve received. Try to find out the real reason they defected, and use that information to prevent it from happening again. Remember that flexibility is needed in order to make changes in the company based on information from lost customers.
5. Fewer referrals
A business with delighted customers should always be gaining new customers from referrals. If your service isn’t good, referrals will drop off first – even before your existing customers defect to a competitor. This makes the continual monitoring of referral levels one of the most powerful indicators of ongoing customer satisfaction. To quote a wise mentor, “Satisfied customers buy from you, but delighted customers sell for you.” Also, if you’re gaining lots of new customers but losing just as many existing customers, this indicates a serious disparity between what your brand is promising and what it actually delivers.
6. Low morale
Employees’ morale is something that shows whenever they interact with customers, and the customer is quick to pick up on negative sentiment toward the company. While low morale is not always a result of poor customer service (although it can be due to a lack of empowerment), it always creates poor service. If this is the case, the management needs to try to instill a sense of pride throughout the company, and offer employees some well-deserved rewards and recognition. Empower employees to make decisions (within reasonable limits), and train them to make good decisions that have both the customer’s and company’s interests at heart.
While there are obviously more than six signs that identify bad customer service, these are certainly among the main ones to watch out for. If you recognize any single one of these six signs, the time has come to focus attention on fixing it urgently. If you recognize more than one of these six signs, there’s no time to waste: you’re already losing market share.
Source: Reprinted from The Wise Marketer Feb 22, 2008 newsletter www.thewisemarketer.com
By Phil Dunn, co-author of The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing
Your customers and prospects live in an information-driven world. They respond to the latest news, product developments, insights, tips and announcements, and they build relationships and purchase accordingly. By inserting yourself into the news stream and building targeted audiences online, you become part of the authority system and enhance your value to prospects and existing customers.
This sounds like a difficult thing to do, but it’s not. Follow the steps below to launch a few key initiatives that improve the quality and quantity of your leads, and increase your profits.
1. Establish authority and expertise online and in the press by automating a news gathering, posting and dissemination system for your specific niche.
Once you’ve established a few Web pages for company news, press releases and updates that are focused specifically on your niche audience, you need to automate its ongoing development. Use someone in your own company or outsource this updating process. The key is to keep the information fresh and dynamic. Subscribe to news alerts and RSS feeds. If the stories are copyrighted, have the staff summarize them and then link to the article/post. If not, you can re-post the content with a link to the attributed source in many cases. Direct prospects and customers to your news site/blog when articles specific to them materialize. As this system matures, you’ll be seen as a very focused expert in your particular business niche. Yet, all you’ve really done is employ the services of outside journalists and news gathering systems.
2. Create a link on your site for press inquiries, speaking engagements and interviews.
Make sure your blog or news micro-site has a highly visible link that shows journalists how to contact you and the process for scheduling interviews or event engagements. Use this page as a filter, so you can weed out time-consuming inquiries and busy-bodies that have little value to you. You can do this by writing a short description of your specific expertise and experience. You’ll also want to set up auto-responders for the email link you provide here.
3. Post to industry/niche-specific discussion boards.
Many of your blog posts and ideas can be posted as advice, instruction or step-by-step processes on discussion boards that focus on your particular technology, niche or business audience. Find the communities where your prospects congregate for information, and post.
4. Reference testimonials and case studies.
One of the best ways to establish authority is to have others do it for you. Use quoted testimonials from existing and past customers to toot your horn for you. Make sure they’re specific to you personally (if you’re a sales person) and to your specific expertise/niche. Make this a part of your ongoing business development process, and use them everywhere. Put them in the right side margin of your news site/blog. Use short testimonials as signatures for emails. Print them on the back of business cards and post cards that you send out.
5. Maintain trust by eliminating hype, sticking to facts and offering help.
When you’re writing copy for your sites and lead-generating materials, pay particular attention to your tone, style and choice of words. Keep it simple, clean and free of excess. No excess verbiage, adjectives, adverbs or claims. Don’t post rumors, half-truths or agenda-driven articles. If you’re truly offering value, then you don’t need to sugar coat it or pump it up with “marketing-speak.” You can be enthusiastic, of course. Emotion helps you sell in all of your selling-related endeavors. But, be aware that the emotions and feelings you’re looking to build—trust, confidence and respect—are best established with clarity, straight-forwardness and expertise. Most importantly, make sure every piece of information you pass along to your audience has genuine value for their particular needs and interests.
Source: Phil Dunn writes marketing materials and provides strategic consulting for Fortune 500 companies. Visit his Web site at www.qualitywriter.com
Your one stop review of all things from last week on WeirdGuy blog – Have fun!
Have you seen Kukuburi? My friend Jeff turned me onto it and it rocks! The illustrations are wonderful. The author and illustrator, Ramón Pérez, does a masterful job of capturing energy in every frame. The attention to detail and subtleties keep readers coming back every Tuesday for another update.
Admittedly, Pérez has had a time trying to keep up. The site has recently been updated and several of the pages still need fleshing out. For instance, the Cast page is to be updated on Fridays, but it is not easy to hold down “real” work and continue with projects like this on the side. Nevertheless, he has developed quite a following and readers are patient while waiting for updated strips.
As for those who have not read Kukuburi, you have a treat in store — head over and start at the beginning. I think you will be hooked like many others.
Illustration from Kukuburi© by Ramón Pérez
By E. Brown
I just reviewed the book, Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds. Actually, I have had the book for a while, but if you have seen my reading list you’d understand why it took me a month to get to it. OK, back to the book. I am always amazed at the common sense principles espoused in many new books that hit the market nowadays and Reynolds book holds much of the same.
The main theme throughout is the old K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Super Simple or Keep It Simple Stupid — choose your version). While reading I found myself asking, “Why do so many presenters not get it?”
I recently finished a project coaching 20 presenters for a large North American conference and it was a smashing success. Many of the principles I shared are contained in Presentation Zen. Yet, after the conference I debriefed with several of the attendees and speakers and was disheartened to learn that some of those I coached applied the tips I shared while some did not. Those who did not received harder critiques from the audience than those who did.
It occurred to me as a result of this recent project and after reading Reynolds book that the information and principles are and have been in the marketplace. People know them or at the least have heard them, but many feel “they know better.” Come Hell-or-High-water they are going to do what they want to do because “they know better.”
This is one of the things I like about Garr’s book — it is a reminder to keep it simple. Simple in text, simple in imagery, simple in design, and simple in scope and delivery. Remember, people have come to see and hear you. They are not there to view a deck of slides — the slides support you!
Much of the book you will have heard before if you have had much experience presenting. However, let me point out 2 or 3 gems that make this book worth buying. Chapter 3 – Planning Analog is worth the price in itself. Too many times have I seen presenters open Power Point and start putting their presentation together. This is a “No-No” and Garr gives excellent examples of how to prepare for the best presentations you will ever give. Also, Chapter 7 – Sample Slides: Images & Text provides those of us without the ability to visualize, pages of pictures that illustrate Garr’s points. Finally, just for fun, Guy Kawasaki’s Forward, presented in slides is a fun and memorable way to start a book on the subject.
This book is certainly for everyone, but I would venture to say it is especially useful for those in leadership positions who have the mentality that says, “I have been presenting for years and I know better.” Get a copy for yourself and while you’re at it, get a copy for your boss. He (or she) will be glad you did.
Want to see an influence on modern cartooning and animation? Head over to Bob Camp’s blog and spend hours scrolling through the art and illustrations that have made him famous -and- made you laugh.
I had lunch today with my friend, Tim, who gave me a tour of his offices afterward. What struck me was 2 things:
- Everyone seemed genuinely engaged in what they were working on
- Everyone seemed genuinely happy and content
To some of you who read this, my examinations may be commonplace, yet to others of you this may be foreign and even a little bit envious. I would venture to guess that many of you fall into the second category. You have never experienced a work environment where you were genuinely engaged, believed in what you worked for everyday, and were happy and content to go to work.
Many people I talk to long for this kind of workplace. There are numerous studies that show the value of this kind of workplace. My friend Alex is on a crusade to promote “happy” workplaces. So, what can you do?
Well, you have a couple options. One of which is to look for this kind of organization that you can give yourself to — one that you appreciate and one that appreciates you! Another option is to attempt to create this kind of environment within your current workplace. Is it doable? It depends on the level of influence and determination you have. Explore all your options. Wouldn’t you rather get up excited about what you’re doing for work rather than dragging your rear into a dull lifeless job while waiting for retirement?
It’s possible. I have seen it. Granted, I have seen it in a handful of places, but those are becoming more frequent. Get started today! Bring a Foosball table into the office, have an afternoon that you take the staff to the movies, do something — anything to make work fun and engaging.
BTW- did I mention, Tim’s office was having a mandatory Ping Pong tournament? Everyone had to play singles or doubles. What do you think of that? Mandatory fun!
By Debra Feldman | JobWhiz
To overcome their innate resistance to external candidates, nowadays employers are especially keen on employee referrals. According to CareerXroads, a recruiting consultancy, these are becoming a proportionately bigger source of hires. Historically, between 70% and 80% of new hires are based on a personal connection or a networking referral. This means that job seekers across all industries and functional disciplines should allocate their time and resources to promote existing connections and establish new relationships. This includes relationships with current and former employees not just where they have worked, but where they want to work. Such inside relationships are proving to be a competitive advantage in today’s environment.
This recommended proactive networking strategy puts prospective candidates in touch with appropriate inside leads before positions are advertised to outsiders. This offers a distinct advantage in the modern world of mass resume submissions and voluminous applications for each available opening.
Personal connections are clearly good to have for a variety of reasons. Active contacts enable candidates to monitor the recruiting process more closely through internal channels. Having an association with a current employee increases the level of shared trust and mutual commitment to hiring managers. Often hiring managers are seeking a new employee with a genuine interest for joining the team and meeting the company’s needs, beyond the attached salary and relevant perks.