Science vs. Art…or both

I recently spoke to a few members of a Marketing team and although they had great Marketing ideas, they had trouble getting adoption from their Field and Channel Marketing teams. They couldn’t figure out why – great ideas, great team members, great product, great corporate revenue…

As I started asking questions, I quickly realized that they considered Marketing to Field and Channel a science. You do A and B and C will automatically happen. Unfortunately, they were wrong. Marketing to Sales people and Channel partners isn’t a math equation, it’s a lot more than that…I’d say they have half the equation down pat. But, the other half is completely missing and in 2015 it’s a shame to say they are definitely not the only Marketing teams that have this problem.

So what’s the problem? The “art” is missing. Marketing to Sales and Channel partners is also an art. You cannot have a team focused on creating Marketing programs that just push those programs out. You absolutely absolutely absolutely must have a relationship with those folks to whom you are giving the programs. I can’t emphasize this enough!!! You have to understand their goals, what motivates them, get their input and feedback and just know them. Believe it or not, it sounds easier than it really is.

I’ve been at many companies where the Marketing team has no idea who the Sales teams are and couldn’t name four Sales people. Marketing teams where they haven’t spoken to anyone on the Sales or Channel team in months, yet are focused on helping them sell more. Does that make any sense to you? I really hope not!

I don’t care who you are, where you work or what you do for work, if you don’t have a connection with people, your fantastic ideas will fail! It’s that simple! Anyone remember “new Coke“? This example might be a radical one, but you get the point. If you’re goal is help people, talk to them.

Field and Channel Marketing is both a science and an art. Metrics are important but you also have to have a relationship with the stakeholders. Doesn’t matter how fantastic your program is, if you don’t have end user buy in, it’ll flop.

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The Granny Lesson

My mom and dad have seven grandchildren. Three live in the US and four live in Ireland. The ones who live in the US live relatively close to my parents so they see each other often. The grandkids in Ireland, however, don’t have the benefit of being with my parents much. But, that hasn’t affected their relationship. The kids Skype with my parents on a weekly basis so that they can see and speak with each other. It’s as good as living down the street.

One of the last times my mom went to Ireland, my youngest nephew, who was three at the time, saw her in the airport and went running up to her and gave her a huge hug. He knew who she was and was thrilled to know that his granny was going to spoil him for the next week or so.

I have channel partners all over the Americas. We email often and have good, productive, email exchanges. However, it’s the phone calls and in person meetings that are the best. We can relate to each other and there’s something about sitting in a room with someone and hearing their voice that changes a relationship. Words written in an email can be taken so many different ways so if you don’t have an established relationship, then words can easily be taken the wrong way. When you sit face to face or hear a voice over the phone, you can get the tone of the voice and can really get a better understanding of what the person with whom you’re speaking, really means.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have built strong relationships with my channel partners over the phone, and of course email, that when we meet face to face, it’s like we’ve know each other for years, understand each other and give each other hugs. (For the record, I don’t suggest hugging people you don’t have a relationship with and if you’re unsure about it. A smile and handshake will work just as well.)

My challenge to you,  get out of the email rut, stop texting, walk over to someone’s desk, pick up the phone or hop on a plane and meet someone face to face. The bond that you build can be as strong as my nephew’s and my mom’s.

Start With Turning on the Faucet

I have all sorts of blog ideas stuck in my head and some I’ve even put in draft form, but I just haven’t written a full one in a while. I have time blocked out every evening to write, but every evening I find something else to do and move the calendar slot to the next night. I love writing but for some reason, I am fantastic at procrastinating when it comes to writing.

I just got an email from IMPACT and it was a list of quotes to get someone past the writers block. This one in particular, got me motivated enough to writing something. “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” – Louis L’Amour, Author.

Everything I write doesn’t have to be perfect, ground breaking or even interesting to everyone. I have to accept that and move on. As I write this, I realized that the same thing applies to my relationships to my partners, coworkers, friend and family. You don’t have to have a reason to talk to someone, just talk. Start by saying “Hi, how are you?” or “Hi, how was your weekend?” and the water will flow.

We get so caught up in our daily to do list that sometimes we forget to be human. I have to talk to this person about this, and that person about that. How about talking to someone just because you want to, not because you need to? Crazy concept, but when you go to someone for the heck of it and not because you need something, you might actually build a two-way relationship and get a lot more out of the conversation than you ever thought you would. Stop thinking about what you need from someone and start thinking about him or her. People aren’t action items, so make sure not to always treat them that way.

Turn the faucet on and the water will flow, relationships will build and in the end you’ll get all the water you need.

Check out the IMPACT blog here which will give you some quotes to get you writing…it worked for me.

Frequency!

I was recently speaking with a friend and he mentioned that he had read my blog. I kind of cringed as I sheepishly said “It’s so out of date. I haven’t written in ages.” He laughed and said “It’s about frequency!” He said it as if he were putting me in blog time out. But, he was right.

If you’re going to have a blog, you need to write. It’s not that difficult of a concept, and really, it’s not that difficult to do. I just need to make time to do it, kind of like putting the garbage out on Monday nights. I need to make time and write, let’s say, every Tuesday night. (Just to be clear, I’m not comparing writing to putting the garbage out.)

As I was driving home, his comment “frequency” kept coming back to me, and, he’s right. I write about customer reference programs and CRPs need to be about frequency.

How often do you keep in contact with your customers? Once a week? Once a month? When you contact them, are you always asking for a reference? A quote, press release, case study, call, video?

Having frequent contact with your customers doesn’t mean you have to to be in frequent “favor” mode. Be frequent as you would a friend. Some friends want to you to get in touch once a week, others, every few months is perfectly fine. Every now and then just reach out and say “Hey Mike. How the heck are you? I hope you have some great summer plans with your daughter this summer. 6 years old is a great age to bring them to Bonfante Gardens.” (Please only call him/her Mike if that’s his/her name.) You get the point of the reach out though, right?

It really is as simple as my friend said, frequency! My mom says “Out of sight, out of mind” and if you’re not in front of your customers, well, you’re out of mind.

What I Have Learned from the U.S. Court System

I spent a few days last week  in jury selection and it was a very eye-opening experience for me.  I had never been brought into the courtroom for the selection process before so it was all new to me and I had no idea what to expect.  Below are some things that I learned while sitting in the galley for hours upon hours without talking or reading.  Some of the things the court did very well and others needed a lot of improvement.  I’m not going to tell you which ones they did well and those which needed help.  I’ll let you hypothesize. Overall, they all related to how to treat customers so below I share my thoughts with you.

In no particular order…

– Thank your customers. Who doesn’t like a nice “Thank you!” Just make sure that it’s sincere.

– Be nice to your customers. There are many other places they would like to be or other vendors they’d rather be working with so treat them as you’d like to be treated.

– There’s never an excuse to yell at customers. Don’t yell at anyone for that matter.  That’s it!

– A friendly smile and hello never hurt anyone. It could be the best part of someone’s day.

– Be courteous of time. When you say a meeting will start at 9, have it start at 9.

– Don’t break the pace. If things are going well during a call and you have more allotted time, don’t stop to schedule another call.  Take advantage of the time you’re given and make the most out of it.

– Encourage feedback. It might not all be good but if your customers are talking about you, you should want to know what they’re saying.

– Don’t say one thing and do another.

– If there are rules to be followed, explain them. Don’t cheat your customers by penalizing them for things that aren’t in writing or they are not aware of.

What have you learned from the court system that would translate over to customers?

“Things to Think About” for the Reference Professional

#crlp Is your company a co-op? Are you cooperating with your customers – both internal and external?

“Things to Think About” for the Reference Professional is a blurb to get you thinking. You can find content here on this blog or at Twitter under the hashtag for Customer Reference and Loyalty Professionals #crlp.

“Things to Think About” for the Reference Professional

#crlp Are you focusing on return of relationship?

“Things to Think About” for the Reference Professional is a blurb to get you thinking. You can find content here on this blog or at Twitter under the hashtag for Customer Reference and Loyalty Professionals #crlp.