WAYMISH- Why are you making it so hard….for me to give you my money?

Primarily, its a litany of lessons and war stories about ridiculous actions that companies take in their eternal effort to tick you off, run you off, or just make you want to go into competition against them because theyre so incompetent. There’s more to it than that, but believe me, when youre done, youll recall a list of your own WAYMISHs.
11 dogears, deserves more. The whole thing should be read by anyone in sales or service position, or by someone who manages sales/service people, and the CEO/owner, of course.

Sniff. Sniff. Does your website stink?

What’s that smell? I hope its not your website:)

Here are 5 common mistakes we find on websites during our “Rescue My Website” evaluations:

1 – No opt-in email capture mechanisms

Opt-in email capture mechanisms come in many forms, including special reports, newsletters (See #2) and squeeze pages. Squeeze pages are a last resort vs the other 2, in my mind. A squeeze page is a page that requires you to enter your first name (usually) and email address before you can view any information – often including the sales pitch. While they are effective, they can annoy people.

2 – No sequenced email autoresponders

This one more or less requires #1, because without #1, it cant work because you have no email address. Once you get an email address, you should have a sequence of INFORMATIVE emails on a regular basis – for lack of a better term – and email newsletter.

3 – No mechanism to capture an address for print newsletters and other mailings.

Roughly the same as #1, but remember – the internet is just another media. Remember when broadcast fax was outlawed? Remember when the Do-Not-Call list was put in place?

If you only have ONE means to communicate with your prospects and some lobby-intoxicated elected official decides to shut down that media, you’re out of business. Get the mailing address. Offer a CD, a small book or gift. ANYTHING that will get you the address so that later, you can offer them other items, information, etc. Worst case, a postcard from Hawaii.

4 – No audio or video

It’s the 21st century folks. Video and audio aren’t geek toys, they are yet another media that is better than printed words for many people. Audio that your prospect chooses to start, not that annoying automatically started audio that makes you reach for the volume on your PC (or the X button to close the browser).

Ditto for video. You can provide SO MUCH MORE information via video. Don’t use it as a toy, use it as an effective way to get your message across. You don’t need a $15000 camera and a professional studio to make good web video these days. A cheap digital camcorder from Walmart will work if it has to.  Video and audio allow you to establish a personal relationship with the prospect. Remember, companies don’t buy things, PEOPLE do. Even at companies.

5 – No contact form

Spam is getting worse by the minute. The last thing you need is another 300 Viagra emails or hot stock tips. If your email address is on your site in plain text, spammers can find it. Provide an easy to use contact form on your site so that people can contact you without opening their email program. You need to be careful with these, because of something called “injection attacks”, but any coherent web person or website portal software should have this under control by now.

Food for thought

Look at your site as if you have never heard of your product, service or company – or anything like it. What is missing that someone who has never seen your product simply has to have? Hint: here’s the perfect opportunity for a free report that requires an email or address capture.

Remember why your site is there. To inform/educate, to communicate what you offer to the prospect and to allow them to contact you. In the case of an online store, to do all that and lead the customer down your marketing funnel to make a purchase.

Do you have goals for your website? Concrete, measurable ones? What are they? How are they measured?

What are you doing to market the site now?

How does information get from your web store to your internal company systems? Same question, vice versa.

I could go on, but I suspect you already have work to do. I know I do.

Postcards from heaven!

I just about dropped it today.

The mail, that is.

I got a birthday postcard from one of my local hardware stores today, Cardinal True Value (those who get it, get mentioned by name).

OK, it was coded as a carrier route sort and it was barely personalized but they DID MAKE THE EFFORT.

It’s not the same as a hand written one, but they are trying. They even included an offer, a comparison (did you get a birthday card from any OTHER home store?) and a DEADLINE!

Scary. Better be careful, there might actually be some marketing going on before you know it.

Now….ARE YOU DOING THIS? If not, why the heck not? Are you nuts?

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):

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???


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


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.