Archives for category: Customers

Business is awash with shorthand.

Good shorthand uses TLAs or jargon that everyone understands to save time and effort. Bad shorthand leaves people unproductive, confused and alienated.

I’ve always used ‘mktg’ as a shorthand for marketing. So much so that I use it in the domain name for my business website, M4 Marketing. It’s a nice short domain. The only problem I have is that I have to spell out the domain name over the phone, which is not ideal.

I think that the mktg shorthand is good shorthand, no? It’s like ‘mgmt’ for management. Pretty much everyone knows that shorthand and uses it freely.

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August is a deceptively busy month.

On the surface, everyone’s on holiday and you can’t get anything done. If you’re relying on getting stuff back from suppliers, partners, or customers, you’re done for. It’s the holiday month. Don’t ask me for an answer, a budget, or a decision, it’s not happening.

But August is a deceptively busy month because everyone comes back on the first of September and immediately has to hit top gear until the next silly season hits around mid-December til the second week of January. To be ready to go in September we have to do the work in August, getting everything ready and managing our projects and our lead times.

August is a great month for getting the work done, undisturbed, so you’re ready to go when the wheels start screeching in the autumn.

As long as you don’t need anything back from anyone, that is. It’s a great month if you only need you to produce what it is you’re producing. But, interaction, collaboration? Forget it. Shoulda got that done in July…

Drink driving limits vary by country, but, at the risk of generalising, if your blood alcohol levels exceed between 0.05 and 0.1% – or between 50 and 100mg alcohol per 100ml of blood, you’re committing a crime.

Again, at the risk of generalising, that meant for an average sized person one drink and you were OK to drive. A bottle of beer, a glass of wine, a spirit, a pint of lager, that sort of thing.

I have always kept religiously to that rule, because I’ve lived in countries where it’s been 0.08% or 0.1%, even out in the country where’s no public transportation and no taxis. It’s not worth it, for so many reasons.

Not any more.

Ireland is now 0.05% and at least a 3-month ban. I checked, 0.05% means half a pint or a small glass of wine puts you at risk of being over the limit.

I remember about 30 years ago my Dad was returning from an afternoon game of golf. He was a similar size to me and back then the conventional wisdom was a pint and a half and you’re fine, which he never exceeded. On this occasion he was breathalysed and told he wasn’t over the limit but he was borderline. He never had a pint and a half before driving again.

I’d be interested in seeing what my degree of driving impairment would be after a small glass of wine. Would my reactions and judgement be noticeably slower or would there be less jerkiness and over-reactions because I was a tad more relaxed?

It’s a moot point, because it serves no purpose to have a single drink and get in a car any more. I’m fine with that, since the ramifications of excess drink are unthinkably bad for another family, but I’m not sure how folk in the country will get on, whether their quality of life in massively unpopulated areas – where you’re unlikely to meet another car or pedestrian and you’re only risking yourself which is your own fault – will suffer.

 

We’re generally on the receiving end of irony. Things that end up being ironic are almost always not in our favour. Irony in business is the same. Commerce tends not to like irony. It likes to deal in good fortune and certainty where possible.

Towards the end of 2017 I finished the final draft of a book I’ve written on how we should deal with our lot in life and leisure if we’re generalists rather than specialists. People who can do a few things well, but are not standout in any one thing.

Since the end of 2017 I’ve been trying to find a agent to take on my project, get behind it and find a publishing deal. In other words, I’ve been trying to persuade a number of specialists that a book written about generalists is a worthwhile project.

The irony of this task is not lost on me. In fact it’s a constant companion. ‘If you’re only pretty good at a few things, why should I, who am great at this thing, take on a project, and why should readers read something, that is probably only pretty good, pretty well written?’

I’m going on holiday shortly for a couple of weeks, which necessitates having at least half a dozen blog posts ‘in the can’. Notwithstanding these literary guardians at the gate, I might publish a few pages of my book as posts, to see if I get any kind of a reaction.

I’ve blogged before about how we learn a new language or adapt to the local language. First, we pick up the vocabulary associated with the language or the locality. Then we adopt the syntax, the word order or phrasing of the people we interact with. Finally, we pick up the accent itself, and start sound like – or something more approaching that of – the natives.

I think too that a lot depends on how much of a linguistic chameleon we are. Does the chameleon choose to adapt skin tones to the surroundings, or is it subconscious, an automatic thing it has no control over?

After 11 years straight in the same country, I’m starting to properly lose the engrained English accent and take on the accent of Irish-English speakers. For some people it might happen earlier, for some it might almost never happen. How many people have you met who’ve been living in a foreign country for twenty years and still speak with a hugely noticeable foreign accent? Some of them must not want to change, some of them must be incapable of it.

There’s a strong element of consciousness to how quickly we adapt to the language or accent of the place that is not native to us. It says a lot about us as people. Do we want to stand out as different? Do we want to fit in, empathise, be one of them, because it’s good to make an effort but also makes it easier to get things in our favour? Or do we not care either way?

Necessity is the mother of invention, or so they say. Many good things can also come out of accident, confusion or a misunderstanding.

When I was working as an account manager in the marketing business, we came up with a public sector strategy to encourage people to claim the benefits they were entitled to with the strapline ‘money for nothing, cheques for free’. It was a line from a Sting and Dire Straits song that I actually thought was cheques for free, but was in fact ‘chicks for free’. My misunderstanding.

I have a potential new brand name for you.

The other day my mother and I were enjoying lunch at the house of one of my brothers. Admiring the crockery, my mother asked ‘this is nice, who’s this by?’, turning the plate over and squinting without her reading glasses at the brand. ‘Ah, EWOH’, she said.

‘I think it’s called HOME’, her daughter-in-law commented, ‘you must be reading it upside down.’

A funny moment for us all. The more I thought about it, though, the more I liked the new brand name ‘EWOH’, pronounced ee-woah.

Probably needs a bit more research…

The cost of parking is fast becoming onerous. Some would say it’s already reached that stage, and has done for a whille.

The other day I flew from Ireland to the UK, for €37 all in, including priority boarding and 2 cabin bags on the way back. The cost of parking, off site, with my car occupying 10 square metres of real estate in the middle of nowhere, ie Shannon long term? €42 for 7 days, booked in advance. Something’s not right there.

Quite recently while visiting in Bristol I went to the Cabot Circus shopping complex in the heart of the city to buy a sweatshirt for my daughter that wasn’t available anywhere else in the area. I was in and out of the multi-story in less than 30 minutes. The cost of parking? €3.

Do they not want you to park in town? Do they not want you to shop in their shops? Has real estate got to the stage where they need to cover their own high costs, or are they simply charging what the market will bear?

Parking has always been ludicrous in the city centres, but now, in off-site long-term parking where they have you over a barrel, it’s rapidly moving that way too.

A few years ago in Ireland the banks made a concerted effort to discontinue the cheque book, that tried and trusted method of paying for something. I’m sure there’s a serious cost attached to producing and sending out cheque books. And for us as cheque writers, we need to allow a certain time for the snail mail to deliver our cheque, and for the cheque to be cashed, cleared and deposited in the account of the person or business named on the cheque.

I don’t know why the move to remove cheques failed. Perhaps it was because we’re not all digital or electronic, or we prefer not to be, through distrust or tradition. It could be that the first effort to eradicate their use was a dry run to soften us up for a serious retry in a few years time.

I pay for the vast majority of my debts electronically. There is, however, a certain pleasure I get from writing and signing cheques. It’s part traditional, part physical, and part control.

Signing cheques is a link back to the way banking has been done for a long time. I write so little these days that I take a perverse pleasure in completing a cheque. I also feel in control of the process. I usually fill in the date first, then the payee, then the amount, before applying a flourish of a signature. I might also scribble a reference on the back of the cheque too.

Signing cheques is still symbolic to me, symbolising solidity, reality and authority.

The importance of focus is hard to overestimate. As salespeople and marketers, if we don’t focus we’re not successful. Better to do fewer things well. Better to win 4 out of 7 deals than win 3 out of 10, spreading yourself too thin and chasing bad deals that you shouldn’t be chasing. Focusing specifically on something means that you are actively choosing not to focus on other things.

Focus also relates to a post I wrote relatively recently on the power of positive thinking. If you think an eventuality is going to arise, if you can almost will it to arise, then you have more chance of seeing it arise. Visualising yourself hitting the treble twenty at darts, or hitting the outside corner of the service box, or winning that piece of business…

I recently read an article on the BBC website about the ‘quiet eye‘ and how it relates to the success of athletes, especially when the stakes and the pressure are highest. It has a lot to do with focus I think, both in a general sense and in a specific situation.

This ability to focus in the heat of battle is what defines and distinguishes the best athletes, the best sales people and the best marketers.

Today is the 4th of July. Or as our Americans friends say, July 4th. Happy July 4th, Happy Independence Day to Americans one and all.

Some celebration dates are easy dates, July 4th being an apposite example. Another is Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May, which I gather is a big deal in Mexico. May the 4th, Star Wars Day, is yet another, a brilliant adoption and adaptation of the key line in the trilogy – actually it’s about an octology at this stage – namely May the Force Be With You.

Who remembers when St George’s Day, the patron saint of England, occurs, glossing over the fact that he was born in Italy, even among many English people? It’s not an easy date to remember, because the date isn’t in the name of the day. You can make a counter argument for Christmas Day, but that one’s got a good bit more global prominence and focus.

From a marketing perspective, the memorable – and rememberable – you make the day, the easy it is to market.

St George’s Day is the 23rd of April by the way. Just looked it up.