Archives for category: Marketing

I think there’s a kind of hotel room etiquette for regular travellers. I say for regular travellers because I refer to business travel rather than holiday travel, where I think different rules apply.

If you’re staying in a hotel room for a night or two, then I think a few unwritten rules apply. These are some of the ones I apply:

  • I get 4 pillows and 2 cushions on my bed. I need 1 pillow. I stack the other three pillows and the 2 cushions on a shelf, with a note on top saying ‘not used’
  • I get 2 body towels, 2 hand towels, 2 face towels and a bath mat in my bath room. In only use the body towel and the bath mat for everything. Seems reasonable. I make it obvious I haven’t touched the other towels
  • I sometimes take the freebie bottles of shower gel and the bar of soap, especially the ones I’ve partly used. I figure that’s OK. I can’t imagine they recycle the half-used contents to make whole bottles
  • I always tip the person that cleans my room when I leave, even if it’s only a couple of quid. My rationale is that everyone else in the hotel spends 2 to 3 minutes on me alone: the check-in/check-out person, the restaurant staff, the coffee shop person. The cleaning person probably spends at least 20 minutes getting my room ready. It’s the least I can do
  • I try and leave my room tidy. I don’t take the proverbial, nor do I subscribe to the argument that it gives them something to do if I leave it messy. If you had to clean 20 hotel rooms a day you’d appreciate some rooms taking a few minutes less, wouldn’t you?

Those are the main rules of hotel room etiquette for me.

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Perspective is such an important concept, both literally and figuratively. It’s how we see the world, both literally and figuratively. It colours our work and our play, down to every single micro-action.

I was reminded of the more literal sense of this recently as I contemplated the world from a high window, the same window from which I viewed booming Dublin. It’s like when you drive a lot and then on rare occasions you take a bus somewhere, sitting on the top level and seeing things you never saw from the ground.

You can see so much from high up. It informs your world differently.

Being high up gives you an advantage over those who don’t enjoy the same elevation. They can’t see what you can see. It puts you in a position of advantage, power or authority, because you can see more. Sometimes it gives you more respect than perhaps you deserve. It also comes with a responsibility. You must use that advantage, power or authority well, and not abuse it or people. To look down on people, or be condescending to them, that’s an abuse of your exalted perspective.

 

I wrote in a recent post about how folk don’t tend to use handkerchiefs much any more. I was reminded of this recently when I went up to Dublin for a meeting. I had over an hour to kill before my meeting in the heart of the shopping district, and I’d forgotten to bring one of the umpteen handkerchiefs in my bedside drawer, so I decided to spend a small part of the hour fixing the problem.

My brief was simple: buy one funky-patterned hanky. Easy.

I went into a very reputable department store full of snazzy concessions. It was the closest store and the best fit I felt. After looking around in vain, I asked a salesman, who, after a bit of confusion between a hanky and a pocket square – a new term for me, the posh bit of silk that sits in your outside breast pocket – said they didn’t sell hankies. At all.

He sent me across the road to a department store that sold them, he said. I went to it and it sold two types, in packs of 7 only. Not singles, 7 or nothing. I then went to 4 other stores and the odd thing I noticed was that at each store the staff weren’t sure where the hankies were; a sure sign that they don’t flog many of them. What do folk use instead? Also, the hankies were all super dull designs, or plain white, and in large packs.

With about 10 minutes left, I realised I shouldn’t have done this on a whim. I should have planned it, googled ‘single funky handkerchiefs Dublin’, and made a bee-line for the right place.

In the end, with 10 minutes to spare, good old M&S came through for me with packs of 3 relatively funky hankies. Not a great fit to my requirements, but the best of a bad lot.

I wonder if I should open a shop for custom single hankies. Nah, folk don’t use them any more.

I think we often take ordering systems for granted.

Where would we be with a directory that didn’t alphabetise the entries? With a reference book that had no index? With a long street lined with numberless houses? We’d have to learn another way of finding things, more random, and vastly more inefficient and time-consuming.

We need systems that provide us with patterns by which we can navigate our way through the world.

Take the estate I live in. It’s a collection of 90-some houses of different shapes, sizes and colours. It’s a lovely estate. The only problem is if you have to find a particular house for the first time.

Most streets or houses have a sequential numbering system, or maybe even on one side or odd on the other. Either way, you can find your way around without barely giving it a second thought.

On our estate the numbers are jumbled. Some parts are numbered even and odd. Some parts are even only. Some parts are odd only. Some are numbered sequentially. Then there’s a block of 4 houses which were added late into the construction phase, also numbered sequentially but with no relation to houses on either side of them.

When someone asks residents where a certain number house is, generally they don’t know. Our house doesn’t have a number on it, it has the number spelled out in letters. Because we can.

It always makes me think how much we rely on ordering systems.

Dublin is booming at the moment. Over the last 2o years or so that I’ve lived in Ireland, I’ve noticed a genuine boom-bust flow to the economy here, which makes it very difficult to plan for the long term, as any government will tell you.

In the mid-to-late 90’s the tech industry in Ireland exploded. By the end of 2001, and the introduction of the Euro at the beginning of 2o02, the dot com bubble had burst and the country was in recession. By the mid-noughties, it was flying again. Then came the tumultuous global meltdown of September 2008 and we were all sent to the brink, our pension funds destroyed. Construction, which had formed 25% of GDP, stopped overnight.

Dublin rebounded more quickly than the provinces, and now it’s booming again. I was waiting for a meeting to start on the 3rd floor of an office on the north quays recently, overlooking the river Liffey and the south side. Out of this narrow window I could see 9 cranes. 9 cranes within my view is a sure indication of a booming city economy.

I wish some of this productivity and boomingness was a bit more equally divided across the country, which is not doing anywhere near as well as the capital. Dublin is full. It’s roads are full, its hotels are full, it’s hard to get around. Not so in the provinces. The prosperity, tech hubs and inward investments are starting to flow to the regions, slowly but surely.

But, for now, Dublin is top dog. It’s booming, at least until the next bust…

Just when you thought Ryanair were getting better and becoming a little more customer intimate – not too much mind you, because that would cost money, ask the pilots – Ryanair pulls what it probably considers to be a master stroke, and what passengers will feel is a low blow they can’t do much about.

We booked a family holiday a few months ago, towards the end of last year, paying for 2 check-in bags and planning to carry a cabin bag each, and a small bag to fit under the seat in front of us. There was no mention that I saw that the regulations were about to change.

A couple of weeks ago we started to get emails about a change in cabin bags, effective shortly and before we actually take our holiday. From this date, unless you have priority booking you can only bring on one bag that fits under the seat in front; you can’t use the overhead storage at all.

WTF! I went back and checked my original confirmation email and there’s no mention of a new cabin bag restriction. Ryanair has gone back to its policy of only one cabin bag, except that now it has to be smaller than before. Clearly pesky customers have been using all the overhead storage and that will not do.

As always, what’s at stake here is the principle. I’ve written before about how Ryanair competes primarily on operational excellence – and this is about operationally squeezing the last cent out of passengers, making them pack even lighter and still avoiding baggage check-in, thereby guaranteeing Ryanair comfortable flight turnarounds – rather than product leadership or customer intimacy. Presumably they’re allowed to hide behind small print that says ‘we can change the terms any time we like’, but to enforce it from the date of travel, rather than the date of booking, when they’ve got pre-booked passengers over the proverbial barrel, is petty, inconsiderate and will probably net them an extra few hundred grand.

Why do they do it? Because they can. For now.

Ah, email, the scourge of modern lives, both work-based and social-based. It’s no wonder that the young are not embracing it as a communications vehicle in anything like the numbers that the older generations have.

Emails can represent both a time-suck and an intrusion into our daily lives. If you’re like me and you subscribe to suppliers’ mailings, or have simply bought something from a company which has your email address, you’ll know what a chore it is to wade through email subject lines from organisations you don’t want to unsubscribe from, in case the occasional email provides something of use to you.

Email has its problems. A large percentage of knowledge and intellectual property is buried in email, often not archived or indexed properly, and it can be difficult to find and retrieve. That’s not particularly efficient. Email intrudes on a regular basis, with a ping here and a ping there, and business gurus are lining up to tell us to ignore 80% of our email and do our necessary email work in batches so that we stay productive.  Businesses are soon to be subject to the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which places more stringent requirements on those companies that collect and use data on us, like our email address. Here’s a nice summary by a marketing automation provider on GDPR implications for companies that email their customers.

Email marketing has been trending down for some time, as search engine optimisation / marketing and social media have been trending up. By 2020, according to Forrester and CMO, email will account for only 2,5% of our digital marketing spend.

It’s not all bad for email though. For example, a couple of years ago I called a couple dozen customers of a client of mine and asked them what their communications preferences were, both as prospective customers, and as active, ongoing customers. The overriding preference? ‘Email. Yes, I get loads of them, but if you send me one that I know I need to read, from looking at the subject line, I can leave it in my inbox and get to it when I’m ready.’

So it seems that, at least for non-millennials and business folk, the hugely prevalent mechanism that is email is still the best of a pretty bad lot when it comes to written communications.

In this post I want to talk about the other IoT. Not the Internet of Things, but the Interconnectedness of Things. Almost the same thing, but actually quite different as well.

Recently I participated in a 10K run. It was the latest version of the run I serialised 12 months ago. I warmed up the week before with a 10K run, and did something to my right Achilles tendon which made it very sore. No harm, I’d got the distance ‘in the bank’ so I focused for the next week on stretches to fix the pesky tendon in time for the race.

3K into the actual race, after a very careful and studious warm-up on the big day, my historically troublesome right calf muscle started aching. After 4K it was properly pulled and I had to stop and hobble back to the car. I limped around for about 4 days and then felt my back go, a muscular groan between my shoulder blades. Two days later, my lower back twanged, and so I had to put up with more periods of extreme soreness where I was in too much discomfort to start rehab. Bending down to pick something up off the floor was agony, and soon my right knee started complaining.

This for me illustrates the interconnectedness of the body’s moving parts, all stemming from the spine and the core. The Achilles, affecting the calf, impacting the spine (which is probably the root cause), which then refers pain down the legs. A good strong core and spine, and all the stuff that hangs off them tends to be pretty good too.

This is what I mean by the interconnectedness of things.It’s also a handy parallel for business, work and life. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, as Mr Newton said. Everything’s connected…

We use the word pain a lot in sales and marketing. We don’t mean physical pain of course, we mean business-related pain, and use the word to signify a problem, deficiency or other kind of challenge that our prospective customer needs to overcome. We home in on that pain, highlight it, illustrate the downside of not fixing it, and demonstrate how we’re uniquely positioned to remove that pain.

We also hope that our customer is not experiencing that pain constantly. You’d think we might be, but actually if they’re so preoccupied with that pain then it makes it very difficult for them to focus properly and absorb the reasoning about how we can help alleviate the pain.

There’s an exact corollary in constant pain of a physical nature too. When we’re in constant pain, a pain that medicine or treatment won’t lessen, it consumes every waking moment and makes it almost impossible to do anything productive. That’s why we’re generally in hospital, at the Doctor’s or laid up in bed. Nothing else for it.

I pity those unfortunate people who have to live with constant pain. It must be so hard. I have to imagine you’re preoccupied with managing that pain every waking moment.

Same for the business in constant pain as well. We must work super hard as marketers and sales people to provide a glimmer of quality respite for them to buy into a better future, a future that’s tied to us.

I have found, perhaps more by luck than judgement, hence my anecdotal phrasing of this sentence, that when you do the prep, things tend to go fine. When you don’t, they don’t.

When you wing a call or a meeting, choosing not to think about the questions you might get, or the outcomes you want from an encounter, it can often unravel and put you behind where you started. When you think about your call or meeting, plan for it, do the work required, try and anticipate the questions, have answers for them, and have an outcome in mind, it tends to go well.

Things are rarely as bad or difficult as you thought they’d be before you started the prep.

I think this has to do with the self-fulfilling prophecy, and peace of mind. The self-fulfilling prophecy, as I’ve talked about here, here and here, dictates that something will probably turn out the way you expected it to, and that by extension you should go into any situation with a positive outcome in mind. When you’ve done the prep, you’re comfortable with the impending call or meeting. You have peace of mind, which relaxes you and sets you up much better to shape the meeting to how you want it to go.

In a situation that’s much more complex than a call or meeting, like war, or business, our strike rate is nothing like as high. There are too many more variables, with too many more possible outcomes. All plans turn to dust in the heat of battle, inevitably. The prep, though, and the act of prepping, is still a very important and worthwhile exercise.