Archive | November, 2011

Giving Praise in Business Relationships

30 Nov

Do you consistently thank and praise the efforts of the people around you? If you do, good for you! If you don’t, why not? Granted, some people need more praise than others, but almost everyone responds positively to words of praise. Just a few carefully chosen words will build loyalty, trust, and camaraderie, plus provide a sense of truly making a difference within an organization. Here are a few tips on how to make praising others work for you.

Say “Thank You” and Mean It!Note of Thanks

Sometimes a heartfelt “thank you” is the best praise ever. Everyone likes to feel appreciated.

Keep It Real

Keep the praise proportional to the event. At times, a simple “Good job!” is enough; other times, a message of “You went above and beyond the call of duty and I appreciate your effort” is more appropriate.

Choose Your Words Carefully

Words mean different things to different people. Don’t be afraid to say kind words but be careful to use only words with positive meanings.

Don’t Restrict Praise to Co-Workers

Vendors and customers deserve praise, too. After all, you also want their loyalty and trust. In my experience, praise goes both ways. If I look for the good in someone with whom I have a business relationship, they are going to look for it in me, and in my company. Giving it is the key to getting it.

Put it in Writing

If praise doesn’t come naturally to you, consider writing a short note of praise or thanks. I have several treasured notes given to me over the years by business owners, managers and people with whom I’ve done business.

Spread the Word

If you have heard good things about employees, friends, or business partners, let them know. Sometimes the easiest way to praise someone is to share a positive comment. Likewise, look for ways of publicly rewarding someone for their efforts. Newsletters, bulletin boards, and company events are all great forums for sharing good news.

Praise the Everyday as Well as the Exceptional

It is easy to spot the extraordinary events which deserve kudos. Don’t forget to think about the events which happen around you every day which make your life easier, however. Who always gets you that report on time? Who never misses a day of work? Whose work do you not have to check? Let them know you appreciate what they do. Sometimes you get so busy taking care of the squeaky wheel that you forget about the other well-oiled mechanisms around you.

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What Does it Mean to be Thankful?

23 Nov

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, David Steinquist, owner of Mediascope, Inc., offers these words . . . .

Since I do not consider myself a real wordsmith, I decided to see what my old friend, Webster, says about the word, “Thankful.” Here is what he says:

Definition of Thankful

  • Conscious of benefit received
  • Expressive
  • Well pleased

Sounds about right, doesn’t it? Thankfulness needs to be a mindset that we create and decide to live with. That would be the conscious part. If we make the decision to be thankful in all things and for all things, we won’t be constantly looking for and hoping for more. Hoping for more always makes me wonder where my priorities are, and it usually turns out that I am focused on the wrong things.

Thankfulness should also happen in conjunction with others. That would be the expressive part. There is nothing wrong with being quietly thankful for the everyday aspects of life, but as we proceed through life, we need to tell others what they mean to us. I find that when I express my gratitude to others and tell them why I am thankful for them — in real terms, not superficially — it builds stronger, more sustainable friendships. It also brings a smile to even the grumpiest of grumps. And who doesn’t get a kick out of turning Oscar the Grouch into a dancing fool?

Well pleased to me indicates a true and deep contentment of all things. This means appreciating the good things as well as the things we experience in life that often drag us down. For under what circumstances do we really grow? For me, the best lessons are taught through life’s difficulties. And once I am past a difficulty, I often look back and think “that was no big deal.” Let’s face it, we all have our fair share of issues, and a lot of those might just be of our own doing. And, it is always good to see growth . . .  in my life as well as in the lives of those around me.

So, in closing, here is my short list of what I am thankful for.

  • My Faith. Without Christ’s influence in my life, I have nothing.
  • My Family. A wonderful, loving wife and 3 great boys.
  • A meaningful job and a great group of people to work alongside.
  • Friends too numerous to list individually that have had a positive impact on my life.
  • A bright future.

Blessings, everyone.  I intend to continue to be thankful 24/7/365, not just one day a year in late November. I hope you can do the same.

Content Marketing

16 Nov

One of the current buzz terms in the marketing arena is Content Marketing. Just what is Content Marketing?

Wikipedia defines Content Marketing as an umbrella term encompassing the creating or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases. It says that Content Marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering high-quality, relevant and valuable information to prospects and customers drives profitable consumer action.

Okay, that’s all good, but why would anyone put time into marketing efforts that really don’t sell anything?

Outbound Marketing

Outbound Marketing

As Wikipedia says, the idea of sharing content as a means of persuading decision-making has driven content marketers to make their once-proprietary informational assets available to selected audiences. Alternatively, many content marketers choose to create new information and share it via any and all media. Content marketing products frequently take the form of custom magazines, print or online newsletters, digital content, websites or microsites, white papers, webcasts/webinars, or any of the other channels marketing professionals have at their fingertips. 

The purpose of content marketing is not to spout the virtues of the marketer’s own products or services, but to inform target customers and prospects about key industry issues. The motivation behind content marketing is the belief that educating the customer results in the brand’s recognition as a thought leader and industry expert.

So, as a business person, what does content marketing mean for you?

Information. Lots and lots of information. If you’re anything like me, your inbox is crammed full of offers for webinars, white papers, and online newsletters.

With so much information available, it’s hard to know where to begin and to whom to listen.

This is where your trusted business relationships come into play. Anyone can disseminate information but how many people really understand you and your business?  True partners go beyond merely giving out information; they want to see you succeed and will be there to help ensure that you do.

10 Cool and Creative Uses for QR Codes

10 Nov

QR Codes are visible everywhere. So far, however, many QR Codes found in the United States only point to a static web site and serve as little more than a link to something people have seen before. Here are ten creative uses for QR Codes.

Marriage Proposal

Wouldn’t it be cool to wrap up the words “Will you marry me?” into a QR Code and print it someplace special such as on a T-shirt or a menu at your favorite restaurant?

Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt could take many forms: it could be anything from a party game to a city-wide fund-raising event.

QR Code

Contests with Prizes

Link a QR Code to a microsite inviting people to sign up for a prize. Not only do you capture information about people showing interest in your service or product but you get them to actively engage with your ad, making your campaign more memorable.

Inform

Use them in unusual places to inform. Zoos, gardens, historical buildings, and other public places are a great place to put QR Codes signs which link to additional information such as animal habitat, plant names, and building history. QR codes make the linked information easy and inexpensive to update.

Link to Videos

Sometimes words just don’t cut it. Use a QR Code to link to a video showing how to do something.

Charitable Donations

Use QR Codes to request charitable donations. QR Code campaigns have lower administrative costs than SMS mobile texting campaigns.

Coupons

Rather than sending readers to the same old web site, reward them with coupons towards  future purchases.

Mobile payments

Link your debit or credit card to an approved QR Code vendor app and have a retailer ring up purchases by scanning a QR Code on your smart phone screen.

Shopping

Imagine a world where you can do your grocery shopping from public transportation. It’s being done in Korea now.

Sell Sheets or Abbreviated Articles

Too much information for the allotted space? Feature the highlights and use a QR Code to link the reader to more information. Real estate and automobile ads are great examples of this use.

Ten Signs That Direct Mail is a Valid Marketing Tool

3 Nov

When social media began to take the marketing world by storm, many people wondered what would happen to direct mail. It is becoming apparent that direct mail will continue to be a main element in marketing plans. This is good news to those of us in the print and mail industries. Contrary to fears of the younger demographic being interested in only electronic forms of marketing, direct mail is actually more popular with the younger audience now than in previous years. According to the DMA 2011 Statistical Fact Book, more than 18 percent of people between the ages of 22 to 24 say they respond to mail. More importantly, that’s a 12.8% increase over the previous year’s figure.

Direct Mail

Direct Mail

Let’s look at some other facts and figures:

Part of Ideal Marketing Campaign

A recent Pitney Bowes Inc. survey found that 76% of small businesses agreed that the ideal marketing campaign includes a mix of digital and physical communications. (Deliver Magazine, October, 2011)

Boosts ROI

Integrating direct mail into marketing campaigns can boost ROI 20%, according to recent research in the UK. In U.S. dollars, the return increased from an average of $4.17 to $5.03 for every dollar spent. (Royal Mail Group, 2011)

Increases Consumer Awareness

Direct mail catalogs were the second highest ranking marketing effort that sparked a consumer’s awareness and familiarity with a product or service. The highest ranking marketing source was TV Commercials. (Google/Shopper Sciences, 2011)

Accepted Communication Method

A study of multi-channel marketing campaigns showed that direct mail was an effective communication method in the overall marketing mix of an auto dealership. The dealerships’ customers were accepting of more than twice as much direct mail (as compared to emails and phone calls) before spending levels began to decrease. (Journal of Marketing, July, 2011)

Consumers Want Promotional Mail

Recent research by Nielsen, a measurement and information leader, showed that 87% of shoppers say they want to receive sales and promotions via direct mail. (NielsenWire, 2011)

Number of Standard Mail Users Increases

In 2009, 85.9 of merchants sent Standard Mail pieces addressed to specific households. This number is up from 72.1% in 1987. (2011 DMA Statistical Fact Book)

Cost Efficient

Direct mail is cost-efficient. When select media were measured according to a cost per order/lead, catalogs at $47.61 per order/lead were more cost-effective than either email ($53.85) or paid search  ($99.47). (2011 DMA Statistical Fact Book)

Effective for Fund-Raising

The typical non-profit organization receives more than three-quarters of its total gives through direct mail and only 10% of its gifts online. Direct mail acquisition is also responsible for three-quarters of all new donors. (Blackbaud, 2011)

Four Out of Five Households Review Advertising Mail

According to a U.S. Postal Service study, 81% of households read or scan the advertising mail they receive. Almost everyone has used a coupon or flier they’ve received in the mail. (Mail Moves America, 2010)

And last, but not least . . .

Direct Mail Share of Budget

The share of total advertising dollars devoted to direct mail has remained near 12% for much of the past 20 years, even with new media introduced into the mix. (Deliver Magazine, October, 2011)