Stop Looking to Trade Up Your Employees

I often hear that companies are  “bowing to investor pressure” when shutting down lines of business or divesting business units, shedding thousands of jobs in the process. Or that investors “demand” outsourcing or offshoring strategies.

Nonsense. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We are confusing investors with traders. Wall Street bankers are not interested in the long-term value of your organization, your customers or your people (and yes, that includes you Mr. or Mrs. CEO). It’s just gambling, with the average share being held for 22 seconds or less.

When’s the last time you listened to a problem gambler for advice on how to treat interpersonal relationships? I thought so. So why would we listen to trader/gamblers for advice on how to treat our people?

We should treat our employees better than any other part of the organization. As a long-term investor would. That means training, development opportunities, correction when necessary and all coupled with a genuine concern for their well-being.

A true investor looks to improve the value of the asset and focuses on growing the value of that asset over many years, which includes investing in the asset. The trader treats everything like a disposable commodity and is always looking to trade up.

How will you treat your employees this Q4?

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Sales: Where the Rubber Hits the Road

I’ve seen a lot of articles how Black Friday sales are down around 11% YOY this year. The decrease has been attributed to moving  the sales forward earlier in the week or the increased importance of online sales.

What I haven’t seen is how social media “conversations” with brands might have changed purchasing patterns. Nothing at all about how those relationships with brands have moved our purchases to or from a particular retailer or brand.

As always, it’s all about saving a buck. We’ll keep our relationships to the things that really move us–friends, family or maybe cat videos. The next time a social media charlatan tries to get you to invest in a megabucks “relationship” campaign, boot them and invest the money in good old-fashioned advertising and promotion. Your bottom line will thank you.

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OODA Loops for Incident Response, Marketing, and Communication…

Succeeding in cybersecurity means getting inside the other guy’s OODA loop. Good essay by Bruce Schneier.

I’ve used the OODA loop (mostly) accidentally and intentionally for years. Here’s how you can apply it to multichannel marketing.

Why not “get inside the other guy’s OODA loop” when communicating, particularly in the combative corporate environment? Hmm. Might be more to write about here.

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Rediscovering Direct Mail

I get a kick out of articles like this one. The BBC author appeared surprised that A/B testing for marketing was invented–I’d say perfected–in direct mail. I guess us old dogs are responsible for some “new” tricks after all!

Takeaway: Sometimes it is easier to learn by looking to the past than by trying to guess the future.

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Questions Advertisers Should Ask of AT&T and Verizon

It turns out that you’re not just a product when using free Internet services. Even when you’re paying AT&T and Verizon for cellular service, you’re still being productized by having your communications altered without you knowing about it.

Both Verizon and AT&T admit to injecting a cookie-like tracker without your knowledge or consent into your HTTP request. A good summary of how it works is here. Thanks to Bruce Schneier for making me aware of this.

Here’s the question for advertisers. If you choose to respect the Do Not Track request, what do you do if you use Verizon’s Precision Marketing Insights? Is Verizon (and AT&T, once they launch their equivalent) passing along the DNT flag as well? Or are they stripping out records that have DNT enabled? And if they say they are, are they actually doing it?

As ethical advertisers, we need to consider the source of the data, how it is collected, the lineage of the data and what the consent and intent was of the person generating the data. Now intent can be hard sometimes. However, the other questions should be asked by us as marketers.

Takeaway: Don’t accept “don’t ask, don’t tell” when it comes data and leave the hard questions to the technical folks or the legal team. Understand where the data is coming from and how and why it was collected before you use it.




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K.I.S.S. Your Copy

Glam Red gloss lips.You have less than one second to convey your USP and offer. Only give them:

  • One price
  • One simple USP

If you can’t, you’ll never have them ask “what else can I buy from you?” and you’ll never have the chance to say “here’s what else I have for you.”

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Three Simple Reasons Your Marketing Will Fail

2014-10-10 14.19.32You’ve labored mightily at your marketing efforts. Hours of careful thought about marketing objectives, followed by careful analysis of past test results. Then, even more analysis of lists and target audiences, followed by agonized copywriting and creative development. Lastly, double- and triple-checking media buys and lettershop insertion samples.

After all that, what could possibly go wrong?

Just three simple things: Continue reading

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Seal The Deal With Good Direct Mail

9321813548_46270232f9_zMost direct mail these days stinks. Yes, that means the stuff your company is sending me. Generally it lacks:

  1. A strong offer
  2. Segmentation
  3. Good merge/purge

I get too much mail in blank white envelopes without anything interesting on the outside. Does the sender think I’ll be so intrigued by standard rate mail with my name misspelled that I’ll be compelled to open it? (Not a trick question. I won’t–and I’ve tested it.)

How about the offers for charities I’ve never given to, nor care about? Maybe my name comes up because of my relationship with a couple of select non-profits, but a quick screen by Target Analytics or DonorDynamics would quickly show what I’m interested and not, and eliminate me from the mailing.

My biggest beef is bad merge/purge. The ability to run a proper merge seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird, even at mailers who should know better, like American Express. Tell me, AmEx, what’s the chances you’ll get two gold card applications from two different LLCs from a SFDU, where you already have a cardholder? How do you not catch that in the merge?

But sometimes my faith in direct marketing is restored.


Here’s a good example from Academy Sealers. This arrived a couple of weeks ago and got my attention with the “Your Custom Quote” line and arrow.

$65 to get my driveway sealed? By a reputable, local firm? I got all that information from the front, in less than two seconds.

Front The back told me exactly how to order and what I’d get for my $65. It provided photographic evidence of the type of service performed and featured a two year guarantee.

I called that day and my driveway was sealed four days later. It would have cost me $40 in sealer, an hour of my time and a pair of shoes and pants.  It would have been a bargain at $99.

This offer worked because it had exactly what much direct mail lacks today: A strong offer, with the right target customer and timing.

Could the mailing have been better? Sure. I’d call out that price with a burst, not print KO green on black and pump up that guarantee, among other things. But the bottom line is that even with substandard design, it got me to respond and paid off with exactly the service promised.

Congratulations to Academy Sealers. You get today’s gold star for creating direct mail that actually works.

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Do We Have Each Other’s Backs?

“At this level, you can’t expect somebody else to stand up for you.”

A sad quote overheard in the breakfast room in my hotel just a few minutes ago. Two business colleagues were preparing for the day, and one said this to the other.

The problem is that humans are cooperative and social creatures. We do expect others to look out for us, while we look out for others. This is the basis upon which all successful human groups are built, from our communities, to our social organizations, to our businesses.

But these people were in vigorous agreement that they are on their own. They suffer while looking out for the knife in the back and their organizations suffer because resources are wasted because they–and others–are looking over their shoulders for the threat within.

Worse, how do their employees feel? If the leaders can’t trust each other, how can the employees trust their leaders?

We absolutely can and should stand up for each other. That’s the very definition of leadership. 

What will you do today to stand up for somebody else? What will you do today to make it worth the risk for somebody to stand up for you?

In other words, how will you demonstrate leadership today?


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Thirteen years ago today, almost 3,000 people were murdered. One was my friend and Utica College classmate Margaret Echtermann. I miss her because I enjoyed her company, intelligence and sense of fun. I’m upset because she offered so much to the world that was never realized.

I won’t forget Margaret nor the others.

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