Archives for category: Sales

It’s tough being a kid, especially a teenage one. It’s the one decade where you change out of all recognition. So much to learn, so much to get your head around.

It’s no wonder that kids seem to be all over the place sometimes, their poor brains scrambled as they rewire at an alarming rate through adolescence.

I know my kids often struggled with remembering to bring stuff with them, or to bring stuff back, or to give me things from school. So much going on, and so much to remember.

It’s unfair to expect them to remember everything, so you have to take memory out of it. You have to make it systematic: an automatic, engrained behaviour for a situation.

Give them a system, or a process, that they can follow until it’s almost instinctive. After all, that’s what you did when you taught them how to go to the toilet, hold their knife and fork, or tie their laces.

In point of fact, this advice works in work as well as play, for cutting down the errors, the miscommunications and the inconsistencies. A culture of system or process services us all brilliantly well. And then, on those occasions when we cut loose and get spontaneous, it’s so much more refreshing and enjoyable.

 

Deck or doc, which are you? Slide deck or word document?

How do you prefer to get your information? Sometimes it depends on the type of information you’re getting. I’m a fairly visual person, and I like to be able to short-cut the information acquisition process and zero in on what I want. This is hard to do with a doc(ument), unless it’s well laid out and sign-posted. If I’m clicking on a web page link to learn more, I prefer a web page to a 2-minute or 3-minute video. I can scan the headings of a web page in a few seconds, rather than sit through something for a few minutes, or jump ahead and risk missing the nuggets.

I’m therefore a deck guy. By this I mean a slide deck. I find this kind of ironic since I’m better myself at creating words than pictures. I generally delegate the pictures to someone who’s good at pictures.

Some people are doc people. They prefer to absorb the information in a word-processed document to a slide or picture presenting document. They like the detail. They want to pour over it, or at least have the option to at a later stage if they need to.

Ask yourself this: when was the last time you said to your customer or your audience, ‘how would you like this information, by deck or doc?’ Even though some types of information are better presented in one format over another, your customer’s or audience’s preferences are important.

For what seems like an age my good lady and I have been considering switching banks. They’re such a traditional, archaic industry that, naturally, switching from one bank to another is not remotely straightforward.

It really should be the responsibility of the incoming bank to do all the work. Instead, companies cover themselves so if something goes wrong they fall back on the small print which blames the customer.

We recently changed from Ulster Bank to KBC Bank. A few forms, quite a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and a whole bunch of standing orders and direct debits that needed to move from one provider to the next. I was sceptical that it would work seamlessly. After all, there’s a bunch of stuff that can go wrong.

Lo and behold, the payment on our car failed to go through and we get a letter from the car finance company to say that we owe them money, probably to the detriment of my credit rating. A quick call to our new bank and they refer to us to a small section of the document that indicated we should have, in addition to passing through the bureaucratic eye of the needle, also called all of the companies with whom we have a direct debit or standing order and tell them. In other words, use manual methods in case the human-driven automated process falls over. We had a lot of these arrangements in place. My view was, I’m the customer, why should I? It’s not my responsibility. I’m not the one getting all the business.

Anyway, I got a rather large shock from my old bank during the week. It was a letter detailing the charges they’d levied in the last 12 months. €214.34. No, that’s not a typo. It was the main reason why we changed, apart from the fact that all banks are generally a degree of rubbish. It’s a case of trying to establish which one is less rubbish than the others. What a terribly and depressingly low bar.

I was in a meeting a good few years ago. It could have been any meeting over the last 5 decades, or any meeting you’ve had. It was fairly typical. Some progress, but also frustrations and miscommunications.

People were not listening to each other, they weren’t answering the question that had just been made. They wanted to make their own point. As a consequence, there were some frustrations, raised voices at times, and frayed tempers. One particular person was asked what they made of the meeting, while we were still in session.

‘Well,’ he said, ‘I’ve heard a lot of heat, but not much light.’

And that is the essence of a good meeting, isn’t it? You want the light, you don’t want the heat. One of them illuminates, the other makes you hot and bothered. One of them makes a meeting worthwhile and a good use of the considerable resources in the room, and the other doesn’t.

Since then, I’ve tried whenever I can in meetings to provide light and not heat. After all, it’s all about productivity, forward momentum, direction, speed and group harmony. Light helps with all of those, whereas heat almost never helps with any of them.

 

Everyone’s been all in a tizzy over the customer experience the last few years, with bags of content being produced and companies popping up all over the place with offerings to help companies focus on their customers’ buying process and the end-to-end journey.

This is all great, but what’s not really talked about much is the employee experience. You see, a company’s most important stakeholder is usually not their customer. It’s their staff. If you have good staff they’ll take good care of your customers.

From this, it follows that getting the customer experience right is actually secondary to getting the employee experience right. How many times have you worked in companies – or been a customer of companies – where the staff don’t know what’s going on, they’re not brought along on projects and processes or the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing when it comes to news, launches and the like? This is a top-down thing, and to get the employee experience and internal communications right senior people need to follow a similar process as they should do for marketing to their customers.

Here’s a link to a really good whitepaper from Hubspot on how internal communications can be the secret weapon within the marketing function.

Paul Dilger social media photo

Paul Dilger social media photo

It’s about time I updated my social media photo presence. It’s getting a bit ridiculous.

Many people seem to have a social media photo that shows them around a decade younger. Why is that? Three possible reasons jump to mind. They want to appear younger and more attractive, they’re slightly vain, or they can’t be bothered to change the photo.

In my case I think all three reasons applied. I started using social media like LinkedIn and Facebook about 2007, and I used a pic I liked from around 2005, so I was already cheating a bit. It’s the same pic. I haven’t updated it. In fact a cropped version of it is the one I use to front this blog.

I have started to update my photo for my professional consulting engagements, because you want to manage expectations in business and it’s tough call to claim 30 years of experience if you look 40 in your picture. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve met someone for the first time, and their LinkedIn photo is a very optimistic version of the real thing.

Still, it’s a seminal moment for me to change it across the board, including the non-work social presences.

Maybe I’ll get round to it in the next couple of weeks, or so…

 

We live in a world where scarcity prevails. There’s not enough resources to go round. There’s not enough time in the day. We don’t have enough money to do everything we want to do. Fact.

So it is with how we organise our own time, how we prioritise, and how we marshal our own resources. We can’t get to everything, not even close.

This is how I deal with everyday questions and how I approach a lot of things, in life and in work. I ask myself, does it matter? If it matters, do it, if it doesn’t, chances are you don’t need to bother with it.

I’ll give you a mundane example: cooking. You find a recipe you like, but it lists a lot of ingredients, and one or two of them you don’t have or can’t get. Ask yourself if it matters that you don’t have coriander, but you have some oregano. Probably not. What if it calls for 350g of this and 150ml of that. Does it matter if you’ve not used the exact amount the recipe calls for? Probably not, it’s near enough ‘as makes no odds’ as my northern English pals would say. Now, with something like baking, or so I’m told, it does benefit you to use the exact ingredients and the exact measurements, in which case, yes it does matter.

When it comes to navigating the resources and time at my disposal, and the myriad tiny questions that might crop up in the course of the day, I use ‘does it matter?’ as my guide. Quicker decisions, less agonising, mental paralysis and hand-wringing.

Brexit could be all done by the time you read this post, though as I write it couldn’t be more finely balanced.

There’s a tremendous amount of international shadow-boxing going on at the moment, as the UK government looks to brace itself against the punches of blame that might come its way from within. Stories have been ‘leaked’ and senior government officials are expressing their frustration that the EU doesn’t understand the UK position.

It’s clear to me that there is not a single marketer in the UK government. No-one has stopped for a moment and said, ‘hang on a moment, the EU is effectively a customer, or at the very least a partner. We should treat this as a commercial arrangement. Let’s try and put ourselves in their shoes, figure out what’s important to them and proceed accordingly.’ I think the EU has done this, and the thinking UK person has too. The unthinking person on both slides of the political divide probably hasn’t.

‘Let’s make it about them, and stop acting like it’s about us.’

Simplistic I know, but sometimes it suits to go back to basics before FUD fogs everything. A lasting, long-term negotiated agreement has to be a win-win, otherwise it won’t last.

A bit of humility and thoughtfulness rather than the usual dose of haughtiness and arrogance, please.

The Glastonbury Ghost

The Glastonbury Ghost

I’m a late convert to festivals. Music festivals, arts festivals, family-focused, eco-focused: there are now so many to choose from, from May to September every year, and no shortage of acts to perform at what are now for them highly lucrative sources of revenue.

I’ve probably been to about a dozen festivals, all but one in Ireland. For a number of years I’ve tried to get tickets to the Glastonbury festival, the Daddy of them all, for my good lady and her friend. I’m not that keen myself, I like the creature comforts at my festivals.

So for the last few years, having registered Mrs D’s details, and Mrs G’s too, I’ve got my notification email and stood ready at my laptop at a few minutes to 9am on the day of ticket release. That’s as far as I’ve ever got. A few minutes before 9 and you get the holding webpage. 8:59am onwards and the page hangs, then returns a time out error. You repeat this process for maybe a hundred times until you get to a holding pages about half an hour later that tells you tickets have sold out.

You see, I think Glastonbury tickets are now the preserve of IT people, people who know the back routes into booking servers, or how to pool resources into multiple simultaneous requests until someone gets through and orders the maximum amount for their cohort.

For the rest of us, the event is like a ghost. You’re met with platitudinous messages about being really sorry but supply has so far outstripped demand blah blah blah. It’s getting like the Wimbledon tennis lottery.

From a marketing point of view, this is the dream, because it’s all about scarcity. There’s not enough to go round, and the excess demand drives the price.

You see it on TV and you know it does happen. At least, you think it happens, you’ve never seen one.

I was visiting my mother the other day. She lives in a small town on the edge of Bristol in England, with a lovely high street of the usual shops and cafes you might expect to find.

At about 5pm on the Saturday I decided I would wander 5 or 10 minutes up to the high street to get a card and small gift. I know I was leaving it late, but I figured that they would close at 5:30 so I would be fine.

The shop I had my eye on closed at 5:15pm, according to the sign. What kind of shop closes at 5:15? It’s neither one thing nor the other. I reasoned that they probably said 5:15pm so they serve their straggling customers by 5:30 and close at the ‘normal’ time.

I tried the door. I was exactly 5:12pm on my phone. It was closed, and 2 prissy ladies were beavering away at the till. I knocked on the window. ‘Closed’, they signed. I pointed at my phone and their sign and walked off in disgust.

It drives me mad, that kind of thing. If you say you’re closing at 5:15, don’t close early. I went to my second choice shop, told them all about my experience – they closed at 5:30pm – spent my money there.

No wonder the high street is dying a slow death. Still focused on itself, and not us.