Avoid the Time Trap

There are a few universal truths in the world, and until we each have access to our own “Tardis“, one of them is that we have a finite amount of time. Of course it can vary by how long we ultimately live, but on a second by second; day by day measure, we all only have 24hrs of it in a day.

Book The Time TrapBack in my younger years, I struggled mightily with managing my time (and truth be told still do on occasion when I allow events to overcome my systems). I listened to the advice of others, sought out varied techniques and even invested in courses. It seemed that no matter what I planned or what I needed to achieve, something inevitably would come up to add to the stress. Time was definitely my master and I needed a way to avoid the time trap.

It was a business mentor that lead me to a great resource, that for me became a seminal work that I return to regularly ( a copy still resides on my desk, next to the dictionary, thesaurus, Element of Style and the Lively Art of Writing).  The work, originally printed in 1972, is still relevant today; R. Alec MacKenzie’s The Time Trap.  If I wasn’t sold by the recommendation of a trusted mentor, I was by the first page of the forward:

Funny – or is it? – how time masters all of us. No one seems immune to its ravages…. For the past eight years, I’ve been seeking them out – these few who seem to have mastered the problem of time, who seem to have all of the time they need, who find time enough to do the things they really want to. 

That’s what I was looking for, the time to do what I needed and wanted to do. But how?  You may also be asking, what impact does technology have on our time today?  What was created to help us create and enjoy more leisure time, has enslaved us to constantly being connected.

To Avoid the Time Trap, 5 tips you may find very useful.

1. Understand how you are currently using your time.

This is ultimately the hardest task, taking the time to appraise and analyze how you are currently spending your time. Your first step on the road to understanding your time is to use an activity log.  The link will bring you to MindTools – a fantastic online resource for personal and professional development. In my past, I managed sales people, all of whom wanted to make a certain amount of money, but were struggling to get there. Each of them knew what they needed to do and thought they were doing well, but never seemed to be getting any closer to their goal. We first did some work to establish what their average hourly rate was (based on their current realistic numbers), then how much more time at that number they’d need to invest to reach their financial target (or plan a different strategy to get higher yield clients) . Then I had them track their time for a month (two reasons, 1. to get a full picture of activities and 2. to build a new habit). Once the team began to see what impact certain activities had on their productivity, it became easier to consciously control where they spent their time. After the exercise 75% of the team achieved their personal financial goals and actually spent more time enjoying their leisure activities by eliminating those activities that were not necessary and not advancing their goals.

2. Protect Your time.

You’re likely familiar with the Pareto Time Principle (otherwise known as the 80/20 rule). The principle states that the significant items in a given group, normally constitute a relatively small portion of the total items in the group. Or as we know 20% of the time expended produces 80% of the results and 80% of time spent produces 20% of the results. Now that you have taken the time to know how you’re spending it, you may have noted that a portion of your activities may not be getting you the results you’ve established, whether professionally or personally. A good example that many highly successful people do to protect their time, is to not open their email first thing, but instead, spend that time focusing on the key tasks to advance the work on their most significant goals. For me, one of my key goals is to set time aside for my son and wife. Thursday nights is one of those times. We book other activities around that night so that we can spend time together (even if that time is being in the same room pursuing our own varied interests). Find what is most significant for you to achieve your goals and make them the priority, you may have to learn to say no, but that’s okay. If someone doesn’t understand or support you in your decision, do you really want to be spending time with them anyway?

3. Get Organized.

A favourite quote for me in “Time Trap” was and still is ” One of my biggest problems is organizing get organized”. We’ve all done it, spent hours looking for that piece of information that I know I put somewhere, now only if I could remember where. Eventually, I give up and start my online search over again. For me, building systems was and is the key to getting and staying organized. I take pride in the fact that others perceive me as being a highly organized person, because, truth be told, I’m not. Over the years, I’ve learnt to build systems to help me stay on top of things. And you can to. The one key for me was building into my day a small portion of time to get and keep organized (as little as 15 minutes per day). I’ve sourced many other tips, but like the simplicity and clarity of this post from Simply Organized “33 Simple Ways to Organize your Life“.

4. Avoid “Time Sucks” or “Interruptions”

As the author notes in “Tme Trap”, “There is a subtle deceptiveness about interruptions. They are seldom recognized as such; they masquerade under a presumption of legitimacy”.  In the book, MacKenzie notes that there are seven management functions, each with 5 “time wasters” related to them, it’s a wonderful look at what can impact on our time (p. 86). Avoidance, might not be the correct term, we might consider “managing” in it’s place. Simon Sinek in a recent interview talked about the laborious process of getting the title for his new book. He described a back and forth email exchange with his publisher that did not bear any fruit, but was quickly resolved when he popped into the publishers office and they had a face-to-face meeting. His point was more about the effectiveness of personal meetings, that also ended up saving them time. What we are looking at here are the unscheduled visits that don’t necessarily serve a purpose to advance your goals. Imagine a copier sales person calling on you to see their latest and greatest piece of technology, but you’ve just purchased a new print center 6 weeks ago and have a 5 year service contract. For the rep, it’s a tick on their activity call-sheet, for you, 15 minutes you can’t get back.  Check out these excellent techniques that you can use to maintain your focus.  One of my favorite techniques – having my phone work for me. I have voice mail for a reason. My commitment is that if you take the time to call me, I’ll get back to you within a business day. The amendment to that rule is, if your calling from a sales department because I downloaded an ebook or attended a seminar/webinar that you sponsored and you want to chat about your service, you’ll likely not get a call back unless I’m in the market, because it’s not a good use of either of our time – but you’re welcome to stay in touch.

5. Learning to effectively delegate:

Time Trap was initially written for the “business manager” who was going to be or had staff. In reality it’s a book for any aspect of our lives, whether we manage staff, collaborators, processes or family, being able to effectively delegate tasks to others is essential. The main benefits of delegation, are 1. it frees up time; 2. for the person being delegated to, it helps them develop skills, initiative, knowledge and competence and 3. helps to maintain decision levels. Unfortunately, if we don’t learn to delegate well, we use our time that can be better used for other activities. We’re getting to this stage at home. My son will shortly turn 12. He’s a smart young person and has learnt that if he can delegate the task of getting him a refreshment, he gets more time on his favorite “YouTube” or game channel. I’ve taken that monkey back off of my back, and have empowered him to not only retrieve his own refreshment, but know that I trust him to make the right beverage choice. Every once in a while, the battle is rejoined, but I’ve maintained my time. In all seriousness, how often do we take a task back from a staff member, because they aren’t doing it quickly enough, or it’s faster to do it myself and then wonder – as Dr.Seuss so elegantly noted “How did it get so late, so fast”?

To help get control of your time, it’s essential to remember that you have all the time there is.  So, if we have all that there is, the issue must be us and how we choose to spend that time. Now how are you going to use yours? 

How did it get so late so soon


How Good is Your Time Management – Mindtools.com  {Start here}

10 Tips for Time Management in your workplace – Smead

6 Ways to Improve your Productivity – CIO Magazine, Merideth Levinson

How to delegate the right task to the right people. – Brian Tracy


New for 2014!

Welcome to the New Year!

Fireworks14In 2014, I’m making a full on effort to build the Diverse Achievements business. There are some really exciting projects ahead, such as a collaboration with AptiSense for larger organizations, more workshops and training in social media, a proprietary online social media training course for a local organization and much more. Still fleshing out all of the details, but it should be fun.

This blog, will transition to become more about personal development and life hacks.  The Diverse Messages blog on diverseachievements.com will be the site for information on business, marketing, sCRM and professional development.  For those of you who have been kind enough to follow the limited activities here, thank you and I hope you’ll consider following the “Diverse Messages” blog on www.diverseachievements.com (our business site), as well as stick here for the once per month posting.

The last year was full of reflection and connecting with folks to get the goals on track. I enjoyed delivering a tailored four-week workshop for the Childcare industry and collaborating on a five-week workshop for new entrepreneurs for the Waterloo Regional Small Business Centre.

First up in 2014 is a refresh of the website, a LinkedIn presentation in mid-January and ongoing client projects.

I recently received a note from a new G+ contact saying that she liked the name of the company and asking why we choose it. It was intended to be a bit of a play on my surname, but more importantly, speak to the promise that I, nor the folks associated with Diverse believe that there is only one answer to a companies problems. We’re dedicated to use different means and test all assumptions/ascertains to help clients reach their goals (achievements). Though we all share so much in common, each of us is also unique, it’s this belief that drives or passion to learn what works best for you and more importantly for your communities.

The first post new post for this site will be mid-January, where I hope to launch the details of the Diverse Achievements podcast as well as a post on managing our most precious resource “Time”.

What topics would you like to see covered over the course of the year?

Thanks again for your support and I’m looking forward to sharing with you here and on the Diverse Messages blog.


What the band “Rush” can teach your business

Peart (right) performing with Rush. Français :...

Peart (right) performing with Rush. Français : Rush en concert à Milan (Italie), le 21 septembre 2004 Italiano: I Rush in concerto a Milano (21 settebre 2004) da sinistra:Lifeson, Lee e Peart. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the many reasons I’ve been a fan of the band “Rush“.  Not only have they supplied the “song track” of my life, they have provided a solid illustration of how to work collaboratively, in and out of the “Limelight”.  The band has 20 studio albums, numerous live and retrospective albums, global concerts and this month join the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame“. They survived a five-year hiatus after the tragic and untimely deaths of drummer Neil Peart’s daughter and wife and came back all the stronger. To hear the band talk about how they work and collaborate is a testament to mutual respect, tolerance, understanding and true admiration of each others skill and contributions. How does a Canadian rock band relate to your business? It’s a good question, that I’ll address below.

As businesses, we may have some of the same issues to contend with. We face turbulent business environments, we need to work alongside others, we need to find ways to build loyalty with our customers and not have our businesses grow stale and complacent. There are many takeaways from the career of Rush, collaboration; longevity; understanding their audience;  trusting and respecting their audience; and delivering exceptional service (live shows, albums and communication with fans), that has provided the band with a 40 year career, doing what they love and from all reports, doing it their way. Let’s look at some of the lessons:

1. They are incredible storytellers.

Rush achieved a strong following by crafting a great story and communicating that story with their wide and diverse audience. It’s not only in the musical chords and lyrics, but in how the band presents themselves and their art to the world. They’ve come to know who and why their audience is attracted to them and are able to connect deeply with those emotions in their audience.

Do you know your story, or your “why”. Take some time to reflect on “why” you do what you do and how you will communicate it to your various audiences: you staff,  your customers and your influencers.

2. Trust your partners and your team.

Can you business survive the loss of a key member for five (5) years. Sure you’re not a rock band, but have you made the plans you need to overcome an unfortunate event. To do so effectively, you’ll need to have strong and understanding partners to help you get over the hurdle. Whether those partners are internal or external (vendors, etc); building trusted relationships that are not focused on immediate gain but long-term mutual growth will be the key to success.

3. Quality ahead of Quantity

Having said that, Rush has been prolific in creating their art, but since they’ve been at it for over 40 year, this is understandable. On an individual basis, each album can be compared to one and other and the listener/critic can determine what they believe to be quality or not. But from the band’s perspective they are on record as saying they have given their best at the time of creation for each of their albums.  Have you, in your business, given your best efforts in each of your products/services? Have you created the environment internally to foster creativity and innovation?

4. Innovate

By building their compelling story (and it’s definitely not for everyone), Rush has been able to able to reinvent themselves from time to time to explore their musical interests and through those reinventions maintained their audience. As a business, do we sometimes get to fearful to look at what we do, how we do it and most importantly why we do it. Do we ignore the environment around us until it’s too late. Or, at the extreme other end, do we hastily reinvent ourselves based on poor information (think New Coke). Having a good grasp on your customer and their needs, will help steer you in the right direction. In addition you can use today’s technology to listen to your audience and tweak your services to meet their needs. It’s never been easier to get immediate feedback from your audience. It’s one of the advantages that Rush has had all along – there can’t be any more immediate feedback than stepping “into the lighted stage”.

Why use Rush as an example?

Rush has endured for over forty years, delivering quality music and performances. The result of these efforts is a worldwide following hard-fought for and won by determination, creativity and hard work. As every guy knows, who has tried to explain the attraction of the band, that even Geddy Lee in conversation with Jian Ghomeshi admits “our music is weird”, we’ve defaulted to: it’s all about the lyrics.  In reality, it is so much more. What I believe I’ve enjoyed most about my association with Rush, is their spirit, their ability to step outside of a norm and experiment and to trust that those of us that have been fans for a very long time, to enjoy the journey along with them. Congratulations to Rush on their installment in the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”, from a fan since 1975!

You can do the same with your business. Get to know your customers, understand what makes them tick and build trust with them. Listen to their feedback and adopt what you can within your business and you’ll turn the consumer of your product/service into a brand champion.

Rush Resources:

To get a good insight to the band, their development, intellect and perseverance, check out this CBC radio retrospective, from CBC’s Rewind aired April 4, 2013. You may also enjoy the interview from 2012 on Q with Jian Ghomeshi in advance of the Clockwork Angels release.

Business Resources:

Simon Sinek‘s powerful Ted Talk on “First Why then Trust

Customer Service is Marketing

English: A business ideally is continually see...

English: A business ideally is continually seeking feedback from customers: are the products helpful? are their needs being met? Constructive criticism helps marketers adjust offerings to meet customer needs. Source of diagram: here (see public domain declaration at top). Questions: write me at my Wikipedia talk page (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marketing, Social Selling, Social Business,

Strive for excellence

I’ve long-held the belief that marketing is an enterprise wide responsibility. At its core, effective marketing programs connect the customer experience across the organization from manufacturing and service best practices to customer preferences and the capabilities of your competitors. With the continued advances in technology, it’s become easier to collaborate within your organization to achieve stellar results. The downside to the advance of technology is that your customers can easily assess your capabilities, can see if your actions aligned with your messaging, and most importantly whether or not you live your corporate values.

All to frequently, organizations believe that the role of marketing is  purely to promote the organization’s products or services. In fact, the discipline is much greater than promotion. The substance of marketing is centered around the customer, always! There has been performance programs built since the early ’90’s focused on how an organization can meet or exceed a customers needs.

I know it sounds like an episode from Rod Sterling’s “Twilight Zone”; but, imagine an organization that empowers its line workers to halt production of the entire line when the machinery falls out of alignment, threatening the quality of goods (reducing returns). The accounts receivable clerk responsible for understanding customer issues and sticking with the customer through the entire organization until the issue is resolved satisfactorily (reducing days outstanding and building stronger customer relationships). The customer service department that is charged with ensuring the customer isn’t just satisfied with the fix, but is committed to making the customer happy (leading to your ultimate marketing tool – word of mouth referrals).  Sounds a little outlandish doesn’t it? Based on your customer service experiences would you believe it to be true? I can assure you from my experience that when you put your customer first, good things can and will happen.

As a marketer and an entrepreneur, I’ve been in large organizations with national and international reach, worked with “Mom and Pop’s”, owned my own businesses , and I’ve seen first hand the difference having, or not having, a solid customer service program can have on the bottom line performance of the organization. For solopreneur’s or micro-businesses, you may believe that this is beyond your capabilities. Please take the time to do your research and learn more, because you can do this. In fact, doing so might provide you with the competitive advantage you’ve been yearning for. I’d also recommend that if you haven’t read the work of Micheal Gerber, that you consider get a copy. It was and continues to be fundamental to my successes (read the E-Myth series if you’ve not*).

Lately, it’s the work of talented friends and closely followed virtual mentors that has brought the issue of integrating marketing efforts with those in sales and other customer facing departments to the forefront for me. This weekend, Terry O’Reilly (@terryoinfluence), released his latest installment of “Under the Influence” on CBC Radio One, and the focus was on customer service. The episode has real life examples of organizations that have gone above and beyond to make their customer not only satisfied, but happy. As O’Reilly states “A happy customer, is a loyal customer”. Could you imagine, taking a return on an item that you stock, but didn’t sell, or ordering a pizza for your customer at 2am, when you’re an online fashion store? Well, these organizations not only did it, they encouraged it. I’d recommend that you give the episode a listen, in fact, when you have time, give them all a listen (I believe you’ll enjoy them).

To illustrate how effective customer service is so fundamental to your business success, here are a couple of sample tweets pulled from my feed this morning.

Some quick examples of tweets from today alone. If you’re not doing it already, it’s time to take your marketing/customer service to the next level and learn to deliver an exceptional customer experience. We know that it takes up to seven or more contacts to get a new customer to consider buying from us and only a few to get an existing customer to buy again. As O’Reilly so aptly reminds us “Customer Service doesn’t cost money, it makes money”.

How are you treating your customers?

* no affiliate link


Hootsuite Goes 3D

Hootsuite Goes 3D (Photo credit: Bibi)

I am proud to announce that I’m now a HootSuite Solution Partner. I’ve been a Hootsuite Pro client for a little while now and the flexibility that it affords in monitoring my social channels has been an eye opener and a real asset.

HootSuite is a social media management system for businesses and organizations to collaboratively execute campaigns across multiple social networks from one secure, web-based dashboard. Key social network integrations include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, plus a suite of social content apps for YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Yammer, Tumblr and more.

In late 2012 HootSuite hit 5 million users, including 79 of the Fortune 100 companies. Along with HootSuite’s web platform, 50% of users access the dashboard through their mobiles including iPhone, Android, Blackberry and iPad. HootSuite also offers localized versions of their dashboard in 13 languages – English, French, Italian, Japanese, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified, Dutch, Polish, Korean, and Indonesian.

There are many benefits to HootSuite Pro

Engage: Optimize your audience engagement by creating search streams, scheduling messages and monitoring all of your social network profiles from one customizable web and mobile dashboard.

Collaborate: Invite clients and colleagues to participate in your social media management. Assign messages for follow-up and share streams, helping you increase efficiency.

Analyze: Measure your efforts using over 40 social analytics modules to build and share custom reports. Or select from one of our pre-made templates for quick and easy reporting.

Secure: Share access with team members without compromising security. The team permission levels and advanced sharing options ensure you remain in control of your valuable social profiles and accounts.

See for yourself:

Sign up for a 30-day free trial of HootSuite Pro now: Go Here 


Please note that the link is an affiliate link.

The Marketing Automation Dream

Cycle vie des contenus

Content Cycle (Photo credit: raphaelle_ridarch)

Whether you’re in a large-scale enterprise, a small business, or a sole-proprietorship, we are all faced with a similar challenge in today’s changing markets; the shift from the “selling process” to the “buying process”. In the not too distant past, prospects needed to touch base with an organization’s sales department much sooner in the process to get the information they needed to make their buying decision. It provided the sales teams the opportunity to “persuade” prospects with why the product or service you offered was the best for their particular situation. However, in today’s world of digital natives and savvy consumers, the power has changed. Today, consumers can find as much information as they feel necessary to make their buying decision or ask targeted specific questions. It is more likely that they will put more credibility into other sources of information, instead of the well-trained and knowledgeable staff in your organization. Right or wrong, Joe, their recently met social network friend, is a trusted resource on what you have to offer.

In today’s marketing, that means adapting to this new model of business and integrating proven traditional marketing techniques with new digital tools and channels to get your message out. Instead of broadcasting your message, you’ll spend time planning how to make your information available to your prospects, when, where and how they want to consume it. You’ll be working diligently to provide valuable content to help them before, during and after the buying decision. I hear you, it’s a common refrain; how am I supposed to do all of this at the same time as run my business? It’s a good question and where marketing automation comes into the mix.

By definition; Marketing Automation is the process of automating repetitive tasks that are normally done manually, requiring time and resources that could be better used elsewhere. One of the goals of using automation, specifically in marketing is to streamline sales and marketing processes to improve efficiency and reduce potential human error. It’s main goal is to use techniques to improve the overall customer experience, to move closer to a meaningful discussion, ideally in person.

Automated Marketing Programs:

The outcome of most marketing efforts is to generate leads, whether that is a new prospect or up selling to existing clients to other offerings or more enhanced services. When implementing an automated marketing program your goal should be to improve the engagement from the inquiry stage to the close of the deal with your prospect (imagine Marketing and Sales living together in harmony). Complete marketing automation programs provide you with the ability to create digital and behavioral consumer profiles that allow you to market to a very specific niche of consumers. A full program will consist of content creation, lead generation, email messaging creation, comprehensive and unique landing pages, drip or nurture marketing campaigns for each segment you identify. Sounds like a lot and it is (most you are already doing, if not all), but by using an automation system the time required to complete each of these tasks is reduced significantly. It will allow you to have a meaningful conversation with your prospects about what matters most to them in the buying process.

Marketing Automation, Lead Generation

Goal is to get Face to Face

By way of example (as noted in an earlier blog post How not to sell an $18,000 Car), recently we bought a second vehicle for our home. We did our research, narrowed our choices to one known brand (used) and one unknown brand (new). All we needed was a test drive to make our final decision. We used the new brand’s online tools to price the vehicle, compare it to other brands and finally to arrange a test drive, all along sharing critical information with the brand. Five dealerships later, we finally got the test drive in the model we wanted. Had the organization as a whole, instead of independent dealerships, had an effective program in place, we should have been in and out and very satisfied within a couple of days, not the weeks it actually took which almost cost them the sale.

“By publishing content that shows buyers your understand their problems and can show them how to solve them, you build credibility”  Ardath Albee, author of EMarketing Strategies for Complex Sales.

The Process:

Let’s imagine how the marketing automation process works (this is true for any product/service).

  1. Create content to attract prospects to your organization (Blog, Ebook, Whitepaper, Newsletter, Imagery and Video) and share that content with your networks.
  2. Capture the leads driven by your content (using a sCRM system). Establish the quality of the lead and where they may be in the buying cycle/consumer journey.
  3. Nurture your lead(s) – provide additional content that helps the prospect know more about the solutions to their particular issues, show value and thought leadership (blog, additional resources in Ebook, video, podcasts). Monitor the feedback and tweak your messaging to better serve the prospect. This is accomplished by creating compelling email marketing campaigns, not one offs, but a series, spread out over time.
  4. Convert the consumer of your information to a consumer of your product or service. This is achieved by having generated a better understanding of the prospect and their pain points and demonstrating you can provide the solution).
  5. Deliver your product/service and provide outstanding service. Provide content on best practices. For example, you own a beauty salon, and to provide added service you’ve created a series of How to videos on your website so that your customer can maintain their look in between visits. You also recognize, that some will be leery of trimming their own bangs, or worse aren’t and shouldn’t. To show greater value, you offer a touch up in between scheduled visits. You now generated the loyalty and opportunity to offer more products or services.
  6. Up sell your customers. They’ve signed on to your basic package, love your product and your service. It’s time to share additional information to show how moving up the product scale can save them what matters most (and to most of us it’s time or money). Demonstrating the value proposition of moving to an enhanced service is huge. For example, if you are a Hootsuite user, you know the free version is very useful. However, the power in the Pro plan is immense and may help advance your business at a very low and effective price point, including having two of you able to post, monitor and respond to your various social channels.
  7. Get Referrals! You’ve earned your customers respect, trust and vote of confidence. They now turn to your first and foremost when they have a question. Sorry Joe, but you’ve been replaced. You may now reap the rewards of the fields you sowed, by cultivating new leads from your current customers. You’ve shown they matter to you, you’ve tweaked your messaging and reacted positively to both negative and positive product/service feedback from your customers. They are brand champions and would be pleased to share your company with their personal and guarded networks.

If you think about it, you’ve all likely experienced marketing automation at work. Have you downloaded an Ebook about your favorite hobby, watched an instructional webcast or signed up for a newsletter on great Italian recipes. If you have, you’ll recall receiving a thank you email, a follow up message about other activities, a call to subscribe to the paid version that provides greater details, etc.; marketing automation at it’s best.


There are many excellent all-in-one marketing automation systems on the market that seamlessly connect to CRM systems. They vary in scale and price depending on the size of your organization, your prospect list and so forth. On average you can expect to invest a dollar figure between $300 and $1,000 per month. I’ve been fortunate enough to have used an all-in-one and test drove many others in the past and they are worth their weight in gold. I understand that not everyone may have this commitment in their current budgets. It’s okay if you don’t, you can do this on a limited budget. To do so, all it takes is more planning, a front to end strategy, a piecemeal of tools, and an investment in time (as not all the processes will be seamlessly integrated). So for example (please note all suggestions are just that, are available at no or low cost and should be researched to meet your organizational goals):

  • Using a blogging platform (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, TypePad) and create the content you are going to share;. 
  • Promote your content via email on an email system (MailChimp, Constant Contact, AWeber, etc) and through your social sharing channels (Twitter, G+, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc)
  • Create a unique landing page for your content to capture the leads that are generated from your content (for example a child page on your website or using Premise if on WordPress).
  • Integrate your email list into a CRM system, ideally one that provides for social integration (Nimble, SugarCRM, SalesForce, etc)
  • Create and nurture an email campaign within the email system you’ve chosen and provide a thank you, an automated follow up within a given period of time, an offer for more content, a free review, etc..
  • Monitor your social channels with a social management tool such as Hootsuite, TweetDeck, etc. Use the information from listening to your networks to tweak your offerings and create additional content to resolve their issues. Also use tools such as Google Analytics to monitor your engagement, where and who is consuming and sharing your content to more efficiently use your channels to get your message out to your network (prospects, customers, advocates, influencers, etc).
  • Engage with your prospect to get additional information, invite them to connect with you on a webinar, or to contact you directly to answer any lingering questions.
  • Close the sale; service; rinse and repeat.

Your ultimate goal:

Imagine an Internet that is uniquely your own. You see only the content that interests you, and you can browse in peace without salespeople getting in your face until the moment you’re ready to buy. After your purchase, you receive automated answers to questions you haven’t even yet asked, and when you visit your vendor’s website for more information or training, forms already include your contact information, as if they’ve been expecting you.

David Diamond (source: Automation vs. You – posted in CMS Wire).

David’s piece is about the oncoming clash on marketing automation making our life easier against the issue of your privacy. It’s a compelling and thought-provoking read.

No matter the size of your business. You can do this and you’ll be glad you did.

A version of this post appears in Beyond the Square Small Business Magazine‘s inaugural edition.

2013 Insider Social Media Predictions

Image representing SlideShare as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Below is the SlideShare presentation compiled by Lee Odden (@leeodden) and Dell. It has a wealth of information from leading thought leaders in the space of social media and becoming a social business. The presentation is hosted on SlideShare and contains 18 slides. It is well worth your time to read each and act accordingly for your business. As always, I’d recommend that before you jump on any new social channel (new to you), do your research first. Is it a place where your prospects and customers are going? What are your competitors doing in the space? How does this new channel advance the achievement of your organizational goals?

Social Media Predictions for 2013 from Dell Social Media

A key takeaway reminder is included in the summary from the slides “The biggest opportunity for businesses in 2013 is to be a social business, not simply a business in social”.  This sentiment has been a common thread for the last little while, however, the challenge is understanding what it means to be a social business and how to sell that to the senior leaders in your organizations, if they are not convinced.

My greatest takeaway was from Philip Sheldrake’s, answer to what is the greatest overrated and underrated metric “Any output metric not correlated to your specific outcome metrics, is not just overrated, it’s irrelevant”.

Finding the deck in my reader this morning (through a post by Lee Odden), reinforced lessons from earlier in the week. I was fortunate enough to be a participant at the Waterloo Region Small Business Center‘s “Social Media Summit” and was in the audience when Kelly Craft, was presenting “Social Analytics” (will share Kelly’s deck when available). Her key point, among many was very similar in tenure with Philip’s but with Kelly’s own spin and unique voice. Some of the key points in Kelly’s presentation are captured in the tweet stream below. A full stream of valuable information is available under the hashtag #socbizwr on Twitter.

Social Business, Analytics

@krcraft on analytics

Social Business, Analytics

Notes from @krcraft

I enjoyed revisiting the thoughts of some trusted resources in the deck from Dell and connecting to some new minds. I trust that you will find the information equally of value. To your continued success on the road to becoming a “Social Business”.

The contributors included in the Dell Deck: Anita Campbell, Ann Handley, Gaurav Mishra, Geoff Livingston, Lee Hopkins, Lee Odden, Michael Brito, Paul Gillin, Philip Sheldrake, Ray Wang, Rohit Bhargava, Shel Israel, Toby Bloomberg and Valeria, Maltoni


IBM’s Social Evangelist – Reblog

It’s been an interesting week already. Yesterday, I was able to participate in in the Waterloo Region Social Media Summit, hosted by the Small Business Center. The day was full of great information from the generous and talented speakers (to see the stream use #socbizwr). What was telling that in the course of these 24 hours, I’ve listen to Joe Thornley, CEO of Thornley Fallis (@Thornley) keynote at the summit talk about the need for senior leadership in social, returned home and caught this compelling discussion/debate with @tedrubin and @jasonkeath in IBM’s webcast debate the ROI of social media and the need for senior level engagement and leadership (watch here). http://youtu.be/29i4L0mui2U

Today, as I scanned my reader, I came across this great presentation from Sandy Carter, VP Social Business Evangelist at IBM sharing information from IBM’s CEO survey. What’s nice about this short presentation is the key takeaways and the excellent examples of CEO’s that have embrace social to engage with their customers and how they are empowering their employees to do the same. Both are worth your time.

– Gordon

Social Media to Social Business

Happy Monday!

Welcome to our Social Business Coffee Break on one of my favorites!  The importance of key leadership is crucial for great Adoption!

Tell me what you think!!

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How not to Sell an $18,000 P.2

Car Sales, Customer Service

Source: Flickr Creative Commons Martinak15

When we lasted visited our story, Joan and I were heading back to our home town from a day of work and meetings, still missing that key ingredient to making an informed decision for our impending car purchase.

Having determined that the one dealership in London did not have the model we were interested in, we head out to the second dealership, conveniently located along the route home. What I haven’t shared to this point, is that we have a 3 year old dog at home, that insists upon sharing his dissatisfaction with us if we’re out too long or he’s not feed at a respectable hour. With the weight of the day and the impending mess at home, we were anxious to get the test drive under our collective belts, get home, relax and discuss the purchase.

We arrived with anticipation at the dealership, and to be fair, explained that we would not be purchasing today, but wanted to test drive a particular model. The person who greeted us was less than welcoming and we were ushered to a sales representative. Our representative, even after being told what we wanted, insisted on going through the process (even handing us a pamphlet of the car we’d already thoroughly checked out). After a firm but determined reiteration that we were here for a test drive, we were told they’d check. Minutes later our rep confirmed what we already knew, that they had the models on site and he’d have one brought in from the back for us. Twenty minutes later, we were in our car and heading home, still without having a test drive. During that period we were ignored, nor given any updates on the status of our request, despite the rep walking past us a number of times.

There was one more hope, on the route we were taking was another city, Woodstock, that had the same car manufacturer. We’d make a quick stop there and inquire. We arrived and finally were given the opportunity to test drive a vehicle. Having done our test drive, the rep proceeded to try and sell.  We’d gone so far we agreed to wait to chat to the Business Manager to discuss the options, etc., twenty minutes later, we learned the business manager was still tied up. We left explaining we’d use the online application available. To make a long story shorter, we ended up purchasing the vehicle, only after the online application failed, making two additional trips to the dealership to fill out the paperwork and so forth, and then finally picking up the car – the Friday before Joan was slated to start her new job on the Monday. What should have been a 3 – 4 day process at the absolute most, ended up being a 2+ week odyssey that resulted in our getting the make and model, but not the colour. The car was brought in from another nearby dealership (likely one we’d already visited). If not for the warranty, the few additional bells and whistles and favorable financing options, we’d have walked away ages ago to the trusted and know brand. In fact, the process is on going. One of the dealerships, the one with the booked test drive and had the car in the mall when we arrived, continues to send us messages about our missed opportunities on their latest offers. Laughable.

The purpose of these posts is not to vent, but to illustrate the need for organizations to integrate their online and real world businesses. Even when a “dealership/franchise” opportunity exists, if the proper processes where in place, imagine how much easier this journey could have worked.  From our initial contact, the car manufacturer could have assisted in the process, by identifying available models on the lot (I’m sure they have the info from an inventory management perspective). The systems could have been tied to provide a test drive format (booking) as was offered, even if it meant bringing the vehicle in from another dealership to the one physically closest to us. How the manufacturer and dealerships split the commissions or swapped vehicles (as was our case), could have and should have been seamless to the buyer. We didn’t need to be sold, other than the performance of the vehicle in our hands. All we needed to know, based on our research, was whether or not Joan would be comfortable in her daily 2 hours of travel, to and fro from work and home. There was absolutely nothing that the representatives brought to the process. The front end could have captured more information on our “pain points” and aided in a wonderful experience. In current literature, you’ll read a lot about collaboration and social and business customer relationship management systems and how to improve the customer experience. These tools aren’t meant to replace the human interaction but enhance them.

Imagine, if when we started our journey and shared our information, we were asked to fill out a quick evaluation to identify what we knew and understood about their vehicle and options. The questionnaire would identify opportunities for meaningful discussion with the rep, not the walk around and reiteration of features we already knew about. Clearly we’d have been much more impressed and not felt like our time was being wasted.  We also would likely have raved about a system that seemed individualized, even for an international car manufacturer. Isn’t that after all what the process is all about.

In her book “The Zen of Social Media Marketing”, Shama Kabani, discusses the A.C.T. principle.  Kabani explains that the A stands for Attract, the C for Consume/Convert and the T for Transform. During this process, we had been attracted to the brand from our online research. We consumed the abundant information available from the manufacturer, industry thought leaders and friends with their experience with the brand. It was during the “convert” stage, that the process feel apart. Because of our experience, they have lost the opportunity to transform us into brand advocates. In fact, if anyone asks me for a recommendation, the trusted brand with the used car and their valiant efforts to get us in one, is who gets the nod.

Understanding the “buyer persona” is fundamental to doing business well today. Listed below are some great resources for you to consider. I hope you find your sweet spot. I know that if a prospect approached me with, I’ve done my research, I like what I see, I need to check out this one element and then I’ll be happy to do business with you – I’ll feel like I’ve done my marketing correctly.


What is the Buyer Persona — Adelle Revella Buyer Persona Institute.

Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve CX — Adam Richardson Havard Business Review 2010

Optimize – How to attract and engage more customers — Lee Odden, John Wiley and Son’s 2011

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How not to sell an $18,000 Car

Car Sales, Customer Service

No brands where named in the making of this post

Recently my partner Joan needed to purchase a new vehicle. She’d accepted a new position 60 kms down the road and wouldn’t be able to walk to work any longer. The new role was a dream opportunity, however purchasing the vehicle wasn’t a dream experience. What should have a been a slam dunk sale/purchase, turned into an odyssey that even Homer would have cringed at (OK maybe not so melodramatic).

Being converse with modern technology, having owned vehicles in the past and having a really good idea of what she wanted to drive, Joan did what any self-respecting digital native would do, she started her search online.  Her research included; makes, models, new vs. used, gas mileage estimates, safety reports, financing options and more. Joan is, if nothing else, thorough. Having completed her on line research, the final decision was between a used model vs a new model.  The used vehicle was a brand we both new and liked. It was available in the color and transmission(standard)  that Joan wanted, however, it did not have a warranty and would be slightly more money to carry on a monthly basis. The new vehicle had everything that Joan was looking for, including some bells/whistles that she hadn’t considered, and the warranty; but neither of us had driven the brand before. Thus, the final decision was going to be based upon the driving experience between the two vehicles. A test drive was in order and we set out to do just that.

And this is where our odyssey began, where technology used in the consumer journey, meets the standard and traditional sales organization. As I noted, other than a test drive, the decision was essentially made. In the digital side of our search, we were offered the following items in the “Shopping Tools” menu from the new car brand:

Price a Model – Compare – Calculate a trade-in value – Request a Quote – Book a test drive.  

Well what would you do, yep, we tried to book a test drive. I’m a Star Wars disciple and I realize that “there is no try”. The first attempt was for the new car. Using the on-line tools provided, we sent the request to the local dealer (in our City). A couple of days went by and we did not hear back. So undeterred and not afraid of a phone (after all the system was showing they had the model on the lot), we called. Joan actually spoke with a representative and mentioned that we wanted to book a test drive. The response was “OK, we’ll call you back and do that”. To this day, we’ve yet to hear from them.

With the clock ticking (we had to have the car available within a three week period), we decided to try the nearest dealership in the next city up the road. We called and scheduled a test drive for the coming Saturday. We were in luck, they had the model on the lot. In the interim, we went to the local used car dealer (brand) to see if the car we were interested was available (it was on their website). It was still on the lot. In all honesty we told them what we were considering the other model and why. They were quite happy to put zero pressure, just take our information and put us on the road. As was expected from a known product, the car handled exactly as we expected.  If the new car didn’t handle or perform as was reported, we knew the used car was what we were getting. The decision, but for one critical piece of information that could not be found online, was made.

The lesson here, to enhance the customer experience, tie together your online presence and your brick and mortar reality. I’m sure a part of the disconnect is the dealer/manufacturer relationship, but for the consumer, that’s not our issue. Somewhat frustrated we looked forward to the test drive on Saturday. Oh did I mention, now our 10 year old would be in tow.

Saturday came, we did our chores, packed up the boy and headed out to the dealership, looking forward to a positive experience and likely starting the paperwork on the purchase of a new and second family car.

We arrived at the dealership. The first clue that we were in trouble, the staff on duty did not know anything about the appointment and to boot, the standard vehicle that we wanted to test drive, was not actually on the lot. No, it had not been sold; it was sitting across the street in the local mall on display.  We were given the option of test driving the automatic version and since Spencer had been promised a test drive, we did that. However, the experience left much to be desired and we still didn’t have our answer.

Poor customer service, inbound marketing

Poor customer service is all to frequent.

As someone involved in marketing and an inbound marketing enthusiast, I was dismayed. The system had let us down twice. Somehow, our initial online attempts to book the test drive and our call to the second dealership had not been entered into a customer relationship system and tagged to the vehicle we wanted to purchase, with an appointment scheduled in a calendar for our arrival to do the test drive. Fortunately for the new car brand, we had to go to London (ON) on Monday, and they had two dealerships there. We’d give them a try since we were going to be in the city any way.  While Joan was at her appointment, I called the first dealership closed to where we were. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the standard car we were looking for on the lot, but the other London dealership did. After our appointments for the day and on our way home, we’d stop and get the test drive in.

We’d gone from a very positive online experience in searching for a second family car, to “why won’t anyone sell us a car”?  All along the inbound track, there were plenty of opportunities for the new car brand to enhance and improve the customer experience. They had the opportunities to capture our information, coordinate amongst the six dealerships within a 60 km radius to deliver a vehicle for the test drive. If any of that were the case, you’d be reading the brand name here and this post would have been done when the car was initially purchased, almost a year ago.  I can imagine that the brand and the dealerships have invested heavily in their technology, I know they have in their marketing, yet not in maximizing both with their service and the customer experience.

I’ll finish our journey for you tomorrow.