Marketing

What’s your 15 second story?

At some point you’re going to bump in to someone you want to impress at work. It might be in the elevator, getting a coffee, or across a table while you’re both waiting for a meeting to commence. You’re not sure if you should say something and then they look over to you and ask ‘so how’s it going?’

If anyone with a ‘C’ or ‘GM’ in their title asks ‘how’s it going?’ they’re not asking you about your cat, or weekend, or recent holiday, they’re being polite and filling a few seconds and this is your chance to tell them something great that’s happening that they’re unlikely to know about.

A great 15 second story should cover off five key things:

1. Never assume they know what you’re talking about. A detailed answer full of technical terms, or assuming they know about your project in detail, is not helpful. You won’t have time to explain all the details or bring them up to speed on the history of the project so that your reply will make sense. Wrap your answer up to a high level view they’ll care about.

2. Make sure you include your boss or your team in your reply.We’ve‘ and ‘we‘ sounds a lot better than ‘I‘. The C-level exec wants to know the department is sound. Every team has a few particularly bright sparks, but the C-level exec wants to know that while there’s progress and innovation there’s harmony too. They also want reassurance your boss is across what’s happening – that you’re not running off and being a lone-wolf . You never know what they might share and with whom, which brings us to a crucial point,

3. Don’t say anything which can’t be backed up. It’s flattering you have a few seconds of this exec’s time but don’t make things up. Avoid the temptation to ‘creatively expand’ the truth or build something up beyond its true value. Maybe you’ve had a win recently stream-lining a process or are taking new things to market but making big statements such as ‘we’re going to change the whole company with this!’ or ‘it’s going to change the whole industry’ are, in a C-level’s mind, either bullshit or something they should have been across well before this 15 second chat – neither of which make your boss or you look great.

4. You never have problems, you have opportunities. The C-level exec has enough problems to solve for each day, this 15 second discussion is not the time to bring up another one. They’re already managing profitability, market share and shareholder challenges, there are proper channels for dealing with smaller HR issues, or that ‘it’s cold today’ or that you need more funding for Project XYZ (everyone always needs more funding, now is not the time to tell them you need more too). Real problems should be escalated properly.

5. They can’t solve anything for you right now. This is just a 15 second discussion, they’re not asking ‘how’s it going?’ so they can try and solve your biggest problem, they’re not writing down your answer and going to make it their top priority to solve for you. They want a good news story so be accurate in your reply and give them some.

So what should a great 15 seconds story sound like? Just one example is below.

Q: “Hey Jim, how’s it going?”

A: “Hey Sam, it’s going really well thanks. The team and I are just about to launch a great campaign, it’s tested well, we have a great baseline plan and we’re going to be trying some new things in market too. We’re very positive. How’re you?”

It’s a great reply because the C-level exec now knows: 1. Things are great and the team is working collaboratively towards a goal and you’re a part of it. 2. You haven’t given them percentages or baffled them with numbers (big or small)  3. What’s about to be in market – representing the whole company – has been mitigated for risk and done well (C-levels love a more sure bet) and, 4. The company is being innovative but off a good baseline that will get the company the majority of the way there anyway.

Ground-hog day

Every year a new school-year starts and the evening news will splash pictures of twins or triplets skipping to school on their first day. Every year global politics will lurch one way or the other creating a bit of upheaval for a while. And every year when the school-year ends some incredibly smart teenagers will be in the news having deservingly Ace’d the exams talking about how they’re finding it hard to choose between a double degree in something fantastic.

Every year fundamentally the same things happen. And that probably sounds depressing to some but it shouldn’t, because it’s actually a wonderful opportunity.

Take a look around your business and as well as focusing on insights for next month and the next quarter begin focusing on foresight for next year. Get your team organised and start accurately logging not just the quarterly sales and trends, but what you and the market actually did so the business can reference it next year.

Did a competitor come out with an industry moving campaign this quarter? Did your company release a new product that did well? Was there new regulation which materially affected how customers bought? Log it all and make it accessible to a broad group of people.

You may not even be at the same business next year but that doesn’t matter. Imagine walking in to your next job and all this was already done, the year ahead would be so much easier. You and your team would have more freedom to focus on more important things because you’d be able to see the previous year or two of the entire industry at a helicopter-view level immediately. Opportunities would be obvious, it’d just be left to you to leverage them.

Nobody is coming to help.

Nobody is coming to help. It’s a stark and confronting reality that almost immediately invites a fight or flight response and in business we see it every day.

Whether you’re trying to resolve a bad customer experience that shouldn’t have happened or if you’re tackling structural change to your industry, or whether you’re simply trying to pull your business out of disappointing quarterly returns, the reality is in that moment no one else is coming. There’s no second team just like yours squirrelled away in another room, there’s no one else already working on the problem, there is just you and a handful of others to solve this.

The only time someone else will come is when you’re gone and by then it’s too late to do anything because it’s not your problem anymore.

The realisation that it’s up to you and your team, or you and a cross-section of colleagues all focused on a single task above all else can be an incredibly empowering, uplifting and educational experience.

If you succeed it’s because of your collective works. If you fail but tried everything you could then at least you’ve learnt a lot and your effort will show. But if you fail because you spent too much time trying to mitigate risk from lack of action,  and in doing so don’t put enough actions in to the market, then you’ll have learnt little and achieved less.

So no matter your challenge, be it with your boss, your customers, or your whole business realise this: no one is coming, it’s up to you to make the difference.

So go make it.

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for? What’s your company waiting for? The right time? The right seasonality? The right market conditions? For that competitor to stop doing so well?

Apple didn’t wait for the market to mature to launch the iPod or the iPhone, Microsoft didn’t wait for the right time to launch the PC, Facebook didn’t wait for the social networking market to be firmly established to launch their product so people would understand what they were all about. Being the driver often means heavy lifting, but it also means it becomes yours to own and educate and create advocates from.

Stop waiting. Start doing. Create your seasonal uplift, be the driver of new demand, you be the thing that stops your competitor doing so well.

If you’re waiting for someone else to come along and stop your competitor doing so well, don’t worry, they will, but it won’t be your company that enjoys the majority of the spoils.

If there’s a flat period of seasonal demand each year – create your own spike. Then that period will become known as your period. Now you’ll have competitors chasing you.

Is it worth it?

It’s a question we all ask ourselves multiple times per day – even if it’s just unconsciously – ‘is it worth it?’

If your customers are thinking for too long about whether you’re worth their time, their money, their social reinforcement or their verbal recommendation then you need to be working harder at giving them more reasons to shorten the time they spend evaluating you.

You see this evaluation most frequently in the supermarket. People paused in aisles staring at one or dozens of similar brands trying to decide which one they’ll buy.

Take a look at your business and what your company puts in to the market. Find the opportunities where you can engage with your current and new customers in brand appropriate ways, perhaps even where your customers don’t expect you to be, but when you’re there, it becomes a natural and welcome addition.

The 2013 Social Rich Media Benchmark Report

 

A new Social Media benchmarking report has compared 2000 Facebook posts, which had exposure on more than 2 billion impressions, from companies to determine the most effective combination of types of posts (updates, questions, polls), those that are sponsored vs organic and those with and without imagery.

As a quick excerpt, I’ve extracted one of the key slides, which demonstrates Paid vs Organic engagement across multiple post types. It’s interesting to see the ‘discovery’ nature of Social media coming through pretty strongly here. In notes, photos and offers – consumers are more than happy to engage with Paid posts from company’s (which they may or may not be following).

Paid vs organic engagement rate by post type - Facebook.

Paid vs organic engagement rate by post type – Facebook.

Download the full report, free, here.

 

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I also run a Google+ page, check out Digital Optimisation Reports for the latest analysis and studies of best practice Digital marketing and optimisation from around the world.

 

 

The new opportunities in the new Gmail

It’s been just a few weeks since the new Gmail inbox has been rolled out globally. And some have already declared it to be “the best thing to happen to email since the oldGmail“, and appropriately that ‘best thing’ has been spearheaded by the team at Gmail. Already in the short time it’s been live, MailChimp’s analysts have said they’ve seen a drop in open rates, however others, such as the team at Hubspot and ExactTarget have said they’ve either seen minimal or no impact at all to open rates.

what is the new New Gmail ?

Why the change and how does the new Gmail inbox work?
The Gmail team have taken Google’s 300 year plan ‘to sort the world’s information’ and applied it to what the Gmail team clearly recognised as a problem. And, what is that problem? It’s two fold.

First is that with additional storage comes additional lethargy to deleting old emails, this creates bulk and completely un-required weight to your email account.

The second problem is that relatively low value communications such as Facebook notifications of a friend tagging you in a picture of sushi and Sale reminders from that store you’ve never quite managed to get around to unsubscribing from, sit directly alongside and even get in the way of your really valuable information such as flight reminders, hotel confirmations, meeting requests and other tangibly valuable communications.

The primary change you immediately notice is that Gmail is now pre-sorted. Pre-sorting is based on a users history, frequency of contact and engagement, as well as who the sender is. Users no longer need to use the filters and folders on the left hand side which they  may have been carefully crafting over the last couple of years and most importantly for the changes are likely to mean a reduction in searching through potentially thousands of old emails for that one that was saved because it was important.

Check out this explanatory video from the Gmail team for a short overview.

How many tabs can I have?
At this stage it appears users can have up to 5 tabs, and three come turned on as standard. The five tabs are:
Primary (default) – What users will see by default when logging in. Featuring comms from people you know, and starred messages.
Social (default) – All social sites are sorted in here – twitter, Facebook, G+, Instagram etc
Promotions (default) – Where most marketers emails will now go. Sales, promotions, and information from companies.
Updates – notifications and service updates (changes to twitter terms of service or Google’s Play store etc)
Forums – updates from forums and online communities.

“We do much more than promotions…I want to be in the primary tab!”


Getting into the Primary tab
Reading the list above some email marketers may have just experienced a cold sweat, exclaiming ‘Promotions! We do much more than promotions, my email is important, I want to be in the primary tab!’

The good news is this, if you’re making genuinely content rich valuable emails then chances are you’re already on your way to getting into the primary tab. There are two known ways of getting into the primary tab:

– Your email subscribers can drag your email from the Promotions tab and into the Primary tab.

– Google continues to learn and those email subscribers who have higher frequency engagement will increase the likelihood of your email being assigned to the primary tab naturally by Google.

Avoid being spammy. I haven’t been able to find anything concrete about this, but if the updates to SEO (as evidenced by Penguin) is any guide, being spammy is a big no-no and could result in being penalised at some point down the track. Requesting  your users  physically move your email to the primary tab is one such example. It feels cheap and it’s a fairly obvious ‘gaming the system’ mentality that I’m sure Google have already considered how to tackle. Additionally, if you’re only going to get your subscriber base to do something, it should be spent on asking them to do something much more useful like engaging with the content and products you’ve lovingly laid out in the email.

The consistent theme for Email, Social, SEO
Email marketers have been content focused for much longer than old-School SEO’s and to some degree Social media managers. Email databases live and die on the quality of content delivered. Even for those who know this fundamental truth it’s still important to step back and think more broadly about what this change means for email and Social and SEO.

These changes represent a fundamental shift in not just the role content plays, but ups the level and importance in the quality of it. Once again Google is pushing a better experience, and as marketers we can’t sit on our laurels and churn out ‘Top 10’ lists, Infographics and ‘How to’s’. This is consistent with the Penguin changes to SEO, and the basis of Social Media.

Summary
The new Gmail is better for users, sorting what Google knows is important without hiding what you’ve signed up for. The opportunity for your business to stand out is more than ever reliant on your content strategy and strong engagement. Getting content right, and integrating it into Social and SEO objectives gives you the best chance of your email thriving.

 

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Check out Digital Optimisation Reports on Google+ for the latest analysis and studies of best practice Digital marketing and optimisation from around the world.