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11 posts from May 2014

It's not enough to know your customer--you have to know their context

Over the long run, you have to know your customers, but in the short run, where sales are closed, you have to know their context. Tq140530bdSo the customer relationship management system is not just a collection of names, addresses and labels. It's a place to keep up with an evolving situation.

Medium: How to 'Know' What Your Customers Really Want?, 2014-Apr-20 by Pandith Jantakahalli

Focus on understanding the situation not the customer. Customers find themselves in a situation, with constraints and emotions. This situation forces a customer to take a decision to hire a product to get a job done. This helps a product manager understand what causes a customer to hire a product and why. Understand their constraints while they are in that situation (like time, capability to handle complexity) and the emotions they feel as they encounter a situation (like fear, anxiety, anger, frustration). Understanding the constraints helps in shaping the solution, understanding the emotions helps in pitching the product.

Do your prospects see themselves as buyers?

One of the big challenges in identifying prospects for a product or service is selecting people who have 'mental access' to it. Tq140529bd By that I mean, when they observe it, can they imagine themselves using or possessing it. If they cannot, then that's your biggest marketing hurdle. Maybe you should identify different prospects.

It's not wrong to go after people who don't see themselves as being in your market, it just takes more time and/or money to reach them.

Medium: Why do people buy art?, 2014-May-9 by Amrita Chandra

People didn’t recognize themselves as art buyers. The art establishment has done a number on people, painting a picture of an art collector as someone who dresses in black, spends their evenings in minimalist white cube galleries and drops thousands of dollars on pieces at the drop of a hat.

How bad managers torpedo good intentions

Gallup recently studied employers who have a high percentage of employees 'actively engaged' versus employers who don't. Not surprisingly, they found the big difference was companies that provide lip-service to good management versus those who challenge themselves to constantly improve. Tq140528hd

I've paraphrased the 7 differences:

  1. Involved, curious leaders who want to improve
  2. Terrific HR departments
  3. Healthy culture first, mission second
  4. Don't let economic downturn be an excuse
  5. Trust, hold accountable, support the managers
  6. Straightforward, decisive approach to performance management
  7. Don't pursue engagement for its own sake

The one which surprised me was No. 3: Healthy culture first, mission second. My observation is that most companies looking to increase employee engagement try to start with a compelling mission. Gallup points out there are hygiene issues that need to be addressed first. You can't act on a great mission if you have a terrible manager.

Gallup Business Journal: Seven Things Great Employers Do (That Other's Don't), 2014-Apr-15 by Peter Flade, Jim Harter, and Jim Asplund

Ensure the basic engagement requirements are met before expecting an inspiring mission to matter. When employees know what is expected of them, have what they need to do their jobs, are good fits for their roles, and feel their managers have their backs, they will commit to almost anything the company is trying to accomplish. Conversely, if these basic needs are not met, even the most exalted mission may not engage them. People simply don't connect with proclamations of mission or values -- no matter how inspiring these might sound in the head office.

Be choosier about your customers, and think twice about referrals

For many solo professionals, having a business model based solely on referrals is a matter of pride. If you receive a sufficient number of referrals to be selective, you are very lucky. In the long run, identifying your best prospects and pursuing them is better for your business. Tq140527wd

If your customers give you many referrals, then you need to educate customers about who you can help. They may turn out to be a sales force you can't control, sending you unprofitable clients you can't please.

Red Lemon Club: Why World of Mouth Promotion is Harming Your Creative Business, 2014-Mar-25 by Alex Mathers

Word of mouth leads to settling for less, because you have not gone out and chosen those clients, they have come to you, and very often they will not be suited to your service. More often than not, you will accept doing work for them because they pay you, and especially if someone you know recommended you to them. You can’t often say no.

The trouble is, they are unlikely to be the very best suited to your product or service with the budgets to match what you are really worth.

By all means make use of word of mouth as one of several tools to bring new clients into your business.

Just realise that it might not be the sharpest tool in the box.

What are we writing here?

In the world of writing for a living, the hacks will always be with us. Even if you write for traffic, you can still write with heart. Tq140526wd

Medium: Think you have empathy?, 2014-Apr-30 by Barry Enderwick

When was that last time you fell in love with some good content? The answer is, of course, never. No one falls in love with “content”.

People fall in love with a book, movie or TV show. By using “content” you are distancing yourself from your customer. It is easy enough to change though. For example, if you change from “matching the right product to the right customer” to “matching the right book to the right reader” you effortlessly and instantly increase your empathy.

Empowered by CRM tools

We now have many tools for keeping track of customers and capturing transactions. We can set automatic reminders and prompts. And we can use those tools to drive away our customers the same way a nagging sales person keeps calling, "are you ready to buy?" Tq140519hd

We can use the same tools to send very human, caring messages.

OWNER magazine: Newsletter, 2014-May-5 by Chris Brogan

The landscape has shifted so much in the last many months out there. For the last few years, everyone’s been thinking that “social media” was the savior. It’s just one tool in the arsenal. I said this at the beginning of the year, that these were the three core elements that Rob and I believe will have the most impact on 2014: - Business is About Belonging - the rise of warm data. - The Monchu is the Media - your network is your gold. - To Automate is Human - the tools are there to afford you more time to be personal and personalized.

More about automation and being human from OWNER COO Rob Hatch:

Why you should be creating something

Too much consuming leads to boredom. Meaning comes from making things, whether it's friendships or clean closets or symphonies. Start by making things, and then make better things, and then you can rest.

Clear blog: Create Things, 2014-Apr-21 by James Clear

Choose to be a creator. Tq140514gd

In other words, the world needs smart people to build things. We need employees who invent things, entrepreneurs who create things, and freelancers who design things. We need secretaries who make jewelry as a side project and stay-at-home dads who write amazing novels. We need more leaders, not more followers. We need more creators, not more consumers.

And perhaps the most important thing to realize is that we not only need to create for each other, but for ourselves as well. Creating something is the perfect way to avoid wasting the precious moments that we have been given. To contribute, to create, to chip in to the world around you and to add your line to the world’s story — that is a life well lived.