Losing customers? What ARE you thinking?

Do you pursue your lost customers? Most big, dumb corporations dont. In fact, most SMALL dumb businesses dont either. Every business loses customers at some point. What separates the successful from the lamers is how they act after that.

For example, today I received an email from buy.com. I dont buy too much at buy.com. In fact, I cant recall the last time I bought something there. But still, they decided to email me. Smart move.
Here’s the email:

We’ve noticed that you have not shopped at Buy.com in awhile and we miss you! So, to thank you for being one of our past customers, we’ve created a special coupon just for you. We look forward to seeing you again soon! You must use your myemail@domain.com account to redeem this offer. 10% OFF Coupon (Some Restrictions apply. See site for details. Expires xx/xx/xx) http://enews.buy.com/cgi-bin5/DM/y/yadayada

Continue reading Losing customers? What ARE you thinking?

Denny Rehberg needs a marketing consultant. Hint: 866-997-7634.

No, Im not kidding.

Note that I really dont have any strong feelings about Mr Rehberg one way or the other. These guys could use a serious lesson in communications, or marketing or customer relationship management, however. Its no wonder we’re all so grumpy with DC out here in tv land. They act as if we’re a bother, but even worse, they SHOW that they feel that way. Get a clue. We know you’re going to think whatever you want, but for goodness sake, NEVER explicitly tell us that we’re like those annoying black flies.

What’s this all about? Well, today I received an email from Denny Rehberg. Yeah, I know the reply came from one of his minimum wage staffers, but hey it says its from Denny:)

I vaguely recall emailing Denny from his House web site’s contact form. I dont remember when it was, so that ought to tell you that its been a) more than 10 days, b) more than 10 months, c) somewhere in between. I really dont recall. Google desktop has a copy of Rehberg’s contact form in its cache from Feb 22, 2006. Hey, I feel really special. I got an anonymous reply supposedly from my highly-paid House representative and it took just a hair less than SEVEN months.

Im sure Denny gets several (dozen? hundreds? thousands?) emails, faxes and letters a day. Sorry, but I dont feel at all sorry for you guys. Remember, you ASKED to go to DC, ASKED to represent me and 900,000+ of my closest friends. No crying towel cuz of the huge volume of constituent contact you have to put up with. Maybe next time I’ll include a check with my letter so it’ll get read faster.

Yep, Im cynical, but realistic too.
Ok, back to the real reason that I brought this up. Marketing. Customer relationship management.

Continue reading Denny Rehberg needs a marketing consultant. Hint: 866-997-7634.

HP’s board and CEO just don’t get it

It would be hard not to know about the troubles at Hewlett-Packard (HP) these days.

If you’ve not seen it, you can see the result here (opens in a new window):
http://news.com.com/2100-1014_3-6114655.html?tag=nl

HP C-level executives…board members, ie: corporate officers, invaded (and/or had others do so) the privacy of employees, reporters and others by digging into their home phone records and more.

You had to expect there to be some fallout and eventually, someone would resign and make kissy face and everything would be fine. Well, that’s exactly what has happened.

Dunn resigns her board chair, but amazingly (ok, given today’s ethical standards, not really surprising) she STAYS ON THE BOARD. Excuse me, but if you have a conniving weasel for a board chair, and you are (presumably) asking for her resignation because of her actions, why in the world is it ok to leave that kind of person on the board???

Astounding.

Later, the guy who was accused of making the leaks also left the board.

Don’t get me wrong, leaks like this need to be stopped – with a termination – and in my mind, that includes the same kinds of leaks in Washington. But to as much as say to your employees and management (much less vendors, the press and anyone else) that their privacy is of no concern to HP senior management by keeping Dunn on the board is just astounding.

Thorns to HP for keeping her and another thorn for allowing her to resign. Let her save face somewhere else. Hurd, you should have had the cojones to fire her. I know, I know, you’re scared of a wrongful termination lawsuit. I thought you got to the CEO position by having a backbone, but I guess I was wrong.

Even Joe Dirt gets it

I dont go to movies much, so when I do get around to seeing them, it might be a couple of years later on cable. That’s what happened with “Joe Dirt”, which I saw for the first time a few days ago.
The movie business teaches plenty of marketing lessons, but rarely does the movie content itself teach a lesson. I got a kick out of it, hopefully you will too. As Dan likes to say “Its instructive”:)

Joe happens upon a man who is a fireworks dealer. The man only carries really sedate fireworks, like sparklers. Joe asks him about a slew of different fireworks names, some of which are clearly inserted for comedic value. Anyhow, when it all said and done, Joe asks “All you sell are sparklers…?”. The guy says “Yes, cuz I like em.”

What made me just about fall over was that Joe says “Its not about what you want, its what the customers want.”

Now THAT’s instructive. Dont start or buy a business, or take on a product line because its what YOU like. Take it on because there’s a MARKET for it, otherwise, its just a hobby. Yeah, I know – the touchy feely types are going to say find your passion and the money will come. They’re right, the money will come – IF there’s a market.
Obvious, kinda like Obvious Adams, but that’s what is so odd about human nature. The obvious stuff is really good at hiding from a lot of us.

Research, then leap hard into the entrepreneurial waters. Dont leap first and try to learn how to swim after you’re already in the lake. Its a little late then.

Crikey…Steve could’ve been a better parent

I was saddened to hear of Steve “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin’s death this morning, but the longer I think about it, the more it angers me as a parent. Steve’s shows were always enjoyable and educational, and I spent a good bit of time watching the show with my boys over the year, despite wondering on numerous occasions how a guy with young kids could put himself at risk like that.
Certainly, its easy to say he “died doing what he loved”, as a good friend of mine (who isnt a parent) said today. Dying doing what you love is ok (I guess) when your kids are grown and have learned the life lessons they need to get from their dad. I doubt his 8 year old daughter and 3 year old son will get much solace from that as they grow up fatherless.

From everything you read about Irwin, he loved being a dad and I dont doubt that at all. What blows me away is that he would set aside the needs of his kids, the primary one to be “Stay around and be their dad”, in order to take the risks he took, no matter how well managed those risks were.

This is not, of course, limited to the Crocodile Hunter. I suspect many people see dads taking part in risky activity that might, maybe, someday, take them away from their primary job at this time in their lives, to be a dad to their kids, and eventually, the grandfather that a kid never forgets.
What a waste.

“[NCLB] has sucked the joy out of teaching”

Student and Teacher
Creative Commons License photo credit: Wonderlane

As noted elsewhere, my wife is a teacher.

Because she’s in a district where the NEA (ie: teachers’ union) is the exclusive negotiating agent with the district, she must belong to the union in order to teach.

The net result of this is a lot of NEA mail, plus a magazine or two, plus a few bucks out of her paycheck that she’ll likely never see again.

Anyhow, I often flip through their publications if nothing else to see if they actually include information to help the teacher members do their jobs better. More often than not, its political this and that, unfortunately. Sometimes there’s a gem or 2.

This month, I didnt get past the reader mail page before I was struck by this July 6, 2006 remark from the California Teachers Association President, Barbara Kerr: “[NCLB] has sucked the joy out of teaching. But we believe that to moan and groan is not enough – we need to be activists.”

Now I have no argument with teachers being activists, which I assume means “standing up for what you believe in and trying to do something about it.”

Because my wife is a teacher, I know a lot of teachers. I havent talked to a single one whose gives me the impression that the joy has been “sucked out” of teaching their students because of NCLB, or anything else.

Ms Kerr needs a big time attitude adjustment, a pair of cojones, or she needs to find a new career if NCLB has truly “taken the joy out of teaching” for her. I cant imagine that this “lack of joy” isnt reflected in her teaching in the classroom, but I hope she is a big enough person to compartmentalize those feelings so as to conceal this situation from her students.

Yes, I realize some of you will call that a run on sentence and throw out my remarks as a result. Think: Baby< ->Bathwater. FYI, my mother was an English teacher. Imagine how she feels after reading that…

Do I agree with every part of NCLB? Not even. There’s a lot of disconnected-from-reality Beltway crap in there, but a lot of the same comes from the NEA every month. No one has the exclusive on being disconnected.

Bottom line – Should teachers allow NCLB to put them into a mental state where they dont even get joy from their teaching anymore? If that’s where it puts you, its time to “cowboy up” or move on.

Radio Shack

Class-less.

300+ Layoffs via email. What do you expect from a company that hires a new CEO to turn them around…and gets him from that well-known turnaround story…..KMART? Oh and Kmart got him from Sears, another retail masterpiece.
Radio Shack blames their recent poor performance (85% drop in quarterly profits) on “poor sales of wireless phones”.

How about blaming them on the real reasons: Forgetting who their customer is. Moving into a commodity business (cell phones). Stopping the collection of customer addresses and the resulting mailings that regular customers appreciated and looked forward to. On and on and on.
Duh.

Business startups – 5 myths of starting a business

Recently, I was in a mastermind meeting with a government business development expert who spends lots of time counseling new entrepreneurs who hope to start, or hope to make a success of, a business. He works for a public-private business development group.

3 of us grilled him for over an hour.

My question for him was “What keeps you up at night?”

Aside from his little boy, he is sometimes kept awake at night by these 5 myths entrepreneurs have about starting a business:

Myth # 1) People thinks it’s easy.

My friend says within 5 minutes of starting a discussion with a new entrepreneur, he’s talking about break-even analysis and other finance-related items and suddenly, things don’t seem so easy to his client anymore.

After some questions about finance, legal structure, paperwork and other must-do things, if the prospective business person thinks THIS seems hard, then they may want to reconsider.

Making payroll, keeping up with taxes and paperwork, marketing, sales, fixing a toilet, managing employees and keeping customers happy – all at the same time, every day….that’s what’s hard. Talking about break-even analysis is child’s play compared to juggling all of that.

Don’t get me wrong, the rewards are worth it. Just don’t expect it to be easy. It’s not. NO ONE who owns a business will tell you that it’s easy, and I won’t be the first to start, noting that I’m writing this at 12:23am.

Myth # 2) People think there are lots of social programs (such as grants) for new business owners, offering startup funds.

Obviously, they are thinking of Matthew Lesko, the goofy guy who screams on your tv about “Free government money!!! $5000 to go to school, and $7000 to start your own business” and so on.

There are some grants available, most require matching funds, but most of these programs are to help EXISTING businesses with employees grow (hire more people) or improve the jobs of their employees through skills training. You might stumble across one, but please don’t assume that you will just fall into a pile of free government money. You won’t.

Myth # 3) People don’t think they need to seek professional help (legal, financial, marketing, etc).

Business mentor Jim Rohn says “Poor people have big TVs. Rich people have big libraries”.

The point is, not only do you have to educate yourself, but you also have to get professional, skilled help for some things.

Don’t play a lawyer on TV or on your own business.

Don’t pretend to be a CPA unless you have experience or training in accounting. Even then, a fresh set of eyes is often worthwhile.

Unless you have proven to be an accomplished marketer to the market your new venture is focused on, get some help. If nothing else, speak with someone to help you lay out a plan so that you aren’t shooting arrows in the dark. Even the best world-class marketing people are constantly learning from each others’ seminars, courses and the new strategies and campaigns of others that have proven to work. You’d be crazy to assume you are done learning, whether it’s marketing or some other aspect of your business.

Myth # 4) I really don’t need to keep the state and the Feds happy with a bunch of paperwork.

Uh, yes, you do. It helps to get professional help with this stuff because, quite frankly, the paperwork can be a nightmare even if you don’t mess it up. People who are experts at it can save you a lot of time, and possibly penalties and even more costly errors.

Myth # 5) I need a bunch of money to start a business.

If you can’t run a business with a little bit of money, making do, solving problems and being innovative, you’ll have problems running it with a lot of money at some point down the road. Why? Lots of money hides problems, makes your life so easy that when problems occur, you tend to solve them with money. Later, when the money has been spent, then what do you do?

Don’t fall victim to the myths. Just get out there and make stuff happen. Sitting around till the timing is perfect is kind of like sitting around and waiting for the perfect time to have kids. Isn’t ever going to happen, so start moving on your dream TODAY.

Remember, the biggest difference between those who do and those who don’t is TAKING ACTION.

Your business vs. Brad and Angelina

On my way to Cleveland yesterday, I stopped into one of the little stores in Salt Lake’s airport to grab a pack of mints. While I was there, there were 2 people about my age scanning a People magazine, talking excitedly about of all things…Brad and Angelina.

Now I don’t claim to be “Mister Wanna-Be-On-Top-Of-Hollywood-Gossip”, but I get all the Brad and Angelina I need between sound bites on CNN and time spent in the line at my favorite Columbia Falls grocery store. Even better (yes, Im kidding), my wife had a drama class in high school with Brad, so my degree of separation from Hollywood is smaller than most people would want. Exciting stuff, eh? 🙂

So we have 2 presumably mature adults taking time out of their lives, time they’ll never have again to spend doing anything else, and theyre using it to talk about Brad and Angelina??? This is a topic that you cant go even 1 day without hearing about Brad and Angelina breaking up, having babies, fighting with Jen or what-ever, unless you don’t pick up the paper, see CNN, walk through the grocery store, etc.

Are these the same 2 clients that you think will get sick of hearing you if you send them a monthly newsletter? I dont think so.

You’ve got to rise above the level of generic noise that your clients hear. You’ve got to provide some quality information, good news, ways to help your client get more/better use out of your product, provide a secret or two, etc. You don’t have to become the publisher of the New York Times, it’s just a little newsletter. Even 1 page is better than nothing, because if nothing else, it shows your clients that you are thinking about them and trying to help them. Get started today.

I wonder what Jennifer Aniston is up to today…

“Do as I say, Not as I Did”

Do As I Say, Not As I Did!: Gaining Wisdom In Business Through The Mistakes Of Highly Successful People

I read this a while ago and was a little disappointed in it, but I think that was because I read it the same day I was returning from a visit with the Glazer-Kennedy gang, which tends to make any other material pale by comparison. I’d be interested in your comments about it. That’s not a slam on Carol’s book, instead, it indicates the level of quality of the info coming from Dan and Bill.

Anyhow, the lessons in this book are instructional, but the dogear score was only 5.
Give it a shot and let me know what your dogear was for this one.