Thursday, August 9, 2012

Content, Context and Cell Phones Spell Near Disaster for the Unwary

This is a true story about my assumption that other middle-aged cell phone users have become as adaptable and, dare we say, "hip" as me.   I sent a text message to the BF several weeks ago, intending to ask him what time he would be home.   In my conscientious effort to avoid getting ticketed by the WA State Patrol (hmmm), I was brief and wrote something like "What time home?" followed by a heart.   My Blackberry  translates emoticons into the actual symbols they represent, so my heart didn't look like the mathematical less than sign plus a three, it looked like a heart.  

"Where were you?"
"I was meeting with a client.?.?"
"You said you would be home before three."
"No, I asked you what time you would be home."
"No, you sent me a text that said you would be home before three...It had that little alligator thing before the three."

I am abbreviating the conversation for sake of the blog and any sensitive readers, but as I reflected on this faux pas of communication, I realized that I broke four of my own cardinal rules of digital dialogue.

1. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.  I am perfectly aware that the BF's cell phone is basically, dumb and that he is neither fond of nor skilled at TXT messaging.   I tend to show off and pretend that I am younger than I am.

2. SPEAK AND WRITE USING STANDARD ACCEPTABLE GRAMMAR.  I introduced the first layer of confusion by not txting a full sentence and assuming that he would understand.  I preach about this all the time.   If you abbreviate, make sure that verbs and nouns and punctuation are still aligned in a way that makes some sort of sense.

3. CONSIDER YOUR AUDIENCES' TECHNOLOGICAL CAPABILITIES.  Translated symbols, video, hyperlinks, and all the razzle-dazzle that some email applications and cell phones and even desktop programs allow us are fun and can make even simple messages more interesting.  However, if your potential customer or personal friend does not have the latest version of software, a smart phone, or other enhanced capabilities, the message looks ugly and may not translate in the way you intended.  

4. I have a framed stamped on my desk that reads, "Learning Never Ends."  I should remember this.



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 16, 2012 8:29 PM Boston

I have spent the last four days in the company of what I sincerely believe is the brain trust of customer engagement/relationship/reference programs in the world.  Yes, I said, the "world" as I have had the honor of moderating and participating in the first International Customer Reference Program Community event.  (Ok, we may need to work on the name and acronym.) 

Please indulge me as I briefly reflect on some of the threads that I will continue to follow and muse upon in the near future:

1. Customer engagement for either B2B or B2C sales continues to be a critical contributer to the P & L health of any organization and our C-Level executives are now much more actively promoting our programs and support our efforts with budget, sponsorship and advocacy than ever before.   The success of any program is contingent upon our ability to communicate our ROI as effectively internally as we acquire and sustain our customer advocates externally.

2. The attention "bandwidth" and availability of our customer and reference prospects is as limited as time slots in our own meeting schedules, so more so than ever, our ability to target our audience by THEIR needs and wants is another key to the success of our programs.  If we deliver specific content, customized to the business challenges of our prospects; provide reward programs that incent our sales organization to provide us with referrals and our reference customers to participate in activities, we are far more likely to continue to demonstrate our contribution to revenue growth. 

3. Cultural sensitivity and responsiveness are as critical to the success of reference programs as they are to closing sales deals.   Every detail from the ability of a customer advocate to be rewarded for their participation to the translation of the quotes and testimony that they provide cannot be reviewed and checked to ensure compliance with law, organizational guidelines and RESPECT.

4. Social.   Have we heard enough from Lisa on this topic through the years?  This community affirmed that social media and networking channels are relevant, measurable and excellent resources for attracting advocates, promoting and sustaining our business propositions and measuring our success, but we must continue to select our medium carefully by considering the audience, resources and contribution to our programs and revenue.   Strategize FIRST; Socialize Second. 

5.  Metrics and measurements continue to be an ongoing "opportunity" for customer relationship programs and professionals to demonstrate that we move the needle.   The most successful and recognized programs are careful to align their goals and objectives with those of their organizations, even to the extent of adopting different program names and specific metrics with different constituencies internally.

I thank Ms. Claudia Koenig for organizing and hosting this event and my most esteemed colleagues for sharing their plans, struggles and success stories during the conference.   If we can agree on the next venue, I'll certainly do my best to update you and encourage you to join us next time.

Warmest regards, as always,


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Why I've never "monetized" this blog.

In my professional life, I have responsiblity for driving Eyes-on-Site (EOS) and converting that traffic in to sustainable customer and audience conversation and revenue. In pursuit of these goals, I have tested and researched and preached about many, many ways to achieve optimal SEO and SEM objectives and bottom-line return. I read and re-read and test and play and muse on many, many new features, algorithms, measurements and metrics, yet I have never chosen to activate the "monetize" tab here.


Some overly complimentatry virtual friends of mine claim that I some thoughts and insight that might pay for my ideal role of creating my own think tank. From early "back-link" and affiliate marketing days, it has been suggested that perhaps I could feed Pinky (black lab who has her own shelved blog) by adding some advertising and referrals here. I've been reluctant and perhaps egostistical. As my friend Emmett Pickett poses: ( Are you part of the Empire or the Federation?

Professionally, I argue that I can be both and challenge that goals of altruism and capitalism in business are not mutually exclusive (see my career history at the American Heart Association as the perfect example), but perhaps here, I want to preserve some almighty dollar anonymity. In a long Facebook and public exchange with Emmett and much respected Albert Quian, yesterday, (, the three of us gave each other gentle jabs in a discussion re Klout's recent partnership with Gilt as an incentive for increasing your Klout score. (Mine is 29... :( ) The end result for me was an late night of musing about what my purpose here, and in other social networking digital dialogue spots, really is. Most critically, is my need for clout in the universe inextricably tied to my desire for Klout?

It's still at 1/2 a cup of coffee, but the bottom-line is that I am ready for the Radian6, Visible Technologies, Socialable Labs, et al, of my professional universe, to intrigue me with measurements that demonstrate both my ability to influence TRULY with tools and dashboards that also indicate a clear path to demonstrable EBIDTA and ROI. :)

Or, make my "Gilt" trip a short one if I can up my score and redeem points for opinion! :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Needlepointed Cliches Turned on Their Heads

I saw a shipping company truck yesterday with the slogan "Thinking about boxes is our business; thinking outside of them is our passion." This twist on a very tired and overused slogan reminded me to preach, once again, that our best marketing efforts maintain the consistency of our product branding and message but sometimes just give it a little freshening up or new technology and reach boost. Yes, for the umpteenth time, our "digital dialogue" should represent the best of our F2F customer engagement and we CAN personalize it but providing the following:

1. Diversity of access. People have different learning styles; technical comfort levels; and time constraints. How MANY access points do we offer to our content, message and products? Do we provide a balanced blend of "standard" RSS, email subscriptions, and "Follow us on" options against inserting and validating NEW media and mobility applications?

2. Responsiveness. Are we insuring that any interaction application (blog comments, "get more information", "chat with a LIVE support specialist", etc. are sufficiently provisioned and that we are establishing the right expectation with our subscribers, customers and potential audience? Those that followed my Tweets a couple of years ago with Verizon Wireless will be very aware of my opinion about companies that provide a social network customer support option and then neither empower the responders to help NOR resource the support channel appropriately so that customers get timely and pertinent responses rather than auto-responder templates scripts.

3. Spelling and Grammar and Grace STILL Count. First, if you expend the resources to buy keywords and then misspell them throughout your content, um, that should be an obvious problem. Second, people notice egregious misuse of the English language. Certainly, make your tone and content audience appropriate, but indulge me with a little attention to proper sentence structure, punctuation and professionalism. I recently took to grading (yes, letter grades..) some Live Chat and customer support emails, just to make the point that introductions and closing and some please and thank you insertion are not only appropriate but can change the tone of a customer interaction dramatically, even if the underlying issue cannot be solved. Try it!

4. Mobility. As much of a tangible written-word advocate that I remain (actual books; no Kindle), I gently remind us all that not everyone can read our blog posts, sites, and other erudite commentary on their Smartphones, etc. unless we have optimized our content to be accessed this way. Know your audiences and consider making the content and interaction accessible to the X% of your customer base that wants the coupon now and wants to walk it into a brick and mortar store and display it on their Bberry rather than print it out and forget it on their kitchen counter.

Just some randomly organized musings for a early and rainy (surprise) morning, somewhere east of the Emerald City.

As always, my regards,


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Resisting Crowd-Sourcing My Opinion

I've been a fan of Malcolm Gladwell's for quite sometime and have been monitoring with great interest and amusement the debate surrounding his discussion of social media and its role (or non-role) as a channel for the new activism. Although Gladwell acknowledges the power of the "weak ties" that are enabled by the thousands of connections made possible via Facebook, Twitter, etc., he contrasts the power of this channel to actual F2F social challenge of history. As I have preached often, the power of social networking is only realized when we embed our digital dialogue and debate with as much of our in-person behavior as possible (I don't mean emoticons) and we individually challenge opinion and invite new thought and nuance. In other words, let's not get lazy and default to "Like" versus listen and exchange.

A colleague of mine has suggested that Facebook ought to offer a "Dislike" button. That's a little better. What if we digital couch potatoes had at minimum, the opportunity to disagree easily? Would that spur a little more independent thought and engagement? I know that we marketing folk like to look for prevailing trends, but I, perhaps perversely, am rabidly curious about anomalies as well. I think it behooves any operational group: customer service, development, sales and marketing; to at least explore why a customer would vary from the norm. If 75% of a survey group is interested in a new product, but just one out of 400 respondents takes the time to not only indicate that they are NOT interested, but chooses to provide some reason, is that not worth our attention? I've always made a case that if organizations choose to be "out there" in the world of social media and networking, they must include these channels as part of their integrated marketing, customer service, etc. channel FIRST and be prepared to address, in some fashion, ALL offered opinions. (I don't necessarily mean that we have to individually address every Tweet, post, blog comment, etc.)

The bottom line is that I perhaps suffer from a case of terminal uniqueness or perhaps my ego is too large to think I can just "join the cause" or jump on the bandwagon without offering my own spin or thoughts. I expect and demand deeper conversation as a result of my digital dialogue and am not entranced by the numbers of followers or friends that I have but the quality of the engagement. To the extent possible, I attempt to extend this approach to my B2B and B2C relationships as well. Of course, we have to model the majority of our approach to the common customer denominator, but if we pay attention, I believe that the diversity of opinion is illuminating.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Look for Social Media Participants Outside of Marketing!

I was a little confused by a colleague's frustration that he was the "only" one at his very large, high-technology consulting firm that was making a social media and networking effort on behalf of his organization. He is tasked with developing strategies for these channels as he is in marketing, but I was a little stunned at his claim that nobody else was engaging in digital conversation. After about five minutes, I realized that as much "out-of-the-box" and open thinking we may think we are doing as businesses regarding availing ourselves of these channels for marketing, sales and customer dialogue, we may still be constrained by our traditional approaches and silos in terms of our implementation. Folks, chat rooms, blogs, and IRQ instant-messaging were around long before Facebook, Linkedin, and YouTube were even a glimmer in the parents of those applications' developers eyes and digital social networking and conversation is happening ALL over our organizations. I thought I would make a couple of quick suggestions as to how we might harness this dialogue and encourage participation before I launched into my much delayed Predictions for 2010 Post! :)
1. Survey ALL employees about their Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Ning, blog, etc. participation and engagement.
2. Make suggestions about interesting and relevant communities, Linkedin Groups, blogs, Fan Pages, where it would be fruitful for you to have ears and members.
3. Open the channels of communication in all divisions regarding what is being "heard" and posted about your solutions and products.
4. Include your internal constitutencies and participants in your social media and networking practice metrics and measurements. If an employee in H.R. mentions her excitement about the release of a new security package in her benefits Linkedin group, it counts as exposure.
5. Consider non-traditional groups in your analysis. I was speaking with the VP of Marketing for an electrical components distributor the other day and he mentioned that one of his warehouse employees had run across some comments about the company in a contractors on-line community. I suggested that he include this type of feedback in his marketing strategy and consider doing some basic corporate communication training with the warehouse employees about ways they might respond to feedback in that network.
6. Consider including Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, etc. addresses in email signatures, business cards, etc. for all employees.
7. Keep the "social" in this ever-evolving and expanding discipline. Whether every employee has a specific contriubtion role or not, it is likely that they and their networks are a rich source of information for us.

Jay Baer is quoted as saying "Remember in social media everyone's a teacher and everyone's a student."

Sources for digital dialogue and often content may often be way outside of our traditional marketing, p.r., and customer relations roles.

Warmest regards,

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Steal This Blog Post

Abbie Hoffman's dissident treatise on how to survive in "Amerika" inspired a fairly tortuous train of thought for me this morning as I foraged through my various social networks in search of professionals who might be interested in hearing about the solutions and services that my company offers. Perhaps more the title than a deep analysis of Hoffman's metaphor, got me thinking about the way we are currently measuring our impact in the social media and networking world as a count of followers, ReTweets, connections, etc. rather than applying a value metric to those who read our posts, thoughts, or just subscribe. Many B2B's have jumped on the proverbial Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook bandwagons with corporate profiles and individual contributors, but are we ready and able to efficaciously measure the resources we are expending in these efforts in any other fashion that a self-congratulatory column in TweetDeck that captures mentions? A 2009 CMO study still indicates that we as business marketers and relationship specialists are still failing to leverage the voice of our customers and business intelligence in any comprehensive and effective fashion ( What a shame. In previous posts, I have suggested that we develop a comprehensive strategy for our social media and networking engagement that aligns with our overall marketing and business strategy; that we perform a social media risk assessment; or at the bare minimum, we listen to what our customer, competitors and others are saying about us. The tools to support these efforts are evolving, slowly, but they are becoming available at all levels of investment. And now, we have another caution in the form of the FTC guidelines for branding and advocating on-line. My strong suggestion, is that those of you who are ready to throw up your hands; leave the SMN world (as Verizon seems to be doing on Twitter); or continue to adopt a wait and see attitude, decide instead to return to the basics….

Some simple steps:

  1. Update your Business Marketing, Sales, Customer Satisfaction, and Lead Generation Strategies to potentially incorporate the use of social media and networking. Some very simple tools are available that you may already have in your kit. For example, Hoover's subscribers can see any connections in Linkedin that they have for the company they are researching. This provides an alternative outreach method that is slightly warmer than an email campaign using a paid-list. If I am a member of the same group as a prospect, we naturally have some shared areas of interest.
  2. Retool your messaging to be appropriate for the social media or networking applications that you decide is appropriate for your organization. Clearly, a full case study cannot be Tweeted and just Tweeting a link doesn't compel the reader to click. Try and provide the right information within the application itself and then provide a link for more.
  3. Assess the power and cost-effectiveness of including audio/video/photos in your social media and networking campaigns. Numerous studies indicate that website conversion rates and clicks increase when multi-media is introduced in our messaging. I have tested this anecdotally in my own accounts and the Tweets and profile updates that include multi-media have a 5x number of hits versus a plain message.
  4. Reassess your strategy and the application marketplace at minimum every six months, preferably more often. Add-on apps to all of the SMN tools are proliferating daily and are worth some attention.
  5. Continue to refine your definition of meaningful social engagement and your processes for turning listeners or those who comment into clients and promoters.
  6. Don't just count the numbers! Although it gives me a secret sense of pride to have a connection request granted or find someone who I consider a guru following me, I can't honestly say that I effectively mine these numbers to determine the value to my messaging efforts.

Just some humble thoughts…..Please STEAL THIS POST! J


Lisa Hoesel

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