Turned Off by Sign Ups

Have you experienced this:

You’re researching a topic via a Google search and you find the perfect sounding link.  You click on the link and before you can read the message, the screen goes dark and a “Sign Up for our Newsletter” pop up screen appears.  You click the top right “x” button and, as you begin the read the page, another pop up screen appears.

Sign-UpFrustrating, right?  But why do sites insist upon doing this?

Gaining an Audience

If you are a business owner or a marketer, you understand the importance of getting a website visitor to sign up to receive notifications from your company.  You  want to create an audience so you can build your sales pipeline.

  1. You create content and when people find it on the internet, you ask them to join your mailing list.
  2. Just in case they “accidentally” click on the cancel button, you add another mailing list request.

It’s a good strategy, but being overbearing about a sign up list is just a bad tactic.

You want to position yourself as an expert.  The problem is you have just positioned yourself as a pushy salesman.  And who likes doing business with a know-it-all pushy salesman?

Drinking from a Fire Hose vs. Building Momentum

UHF Fire Hose SpadowskiWhen someone comes across as a pushy salesman, most of  the time it’s because they are forcing their ideas/approach onto somebody.  It’s like drinking from a fire hose: getting too much too quickly.

Instead of hosing your audience down, provide sales opportunities on your audience’s time basis.  This requires more effort, but it can fill your pipeline with more qualified leads.

Here are a couple of marketing tactics you can use to fill your sales pipeline.

Create a White Paper

Do your customers and prospects experience a problem you can solve?  Build a white paper and publish it online.  Design a landing page that gives a summary and then collect the person’s information so you can email them a copy.  For examples, check out Hubspot.  They do an excellent job of creating meaningful white papers.

Ask for Advice

Looking to launch a new product or service?  How about sending a customer survey before finalizing it?  Produce a quick online survey and ask for contact information.  Once you launch the product/service, notify the prospect and you’re set.

But once you collect this information, how do you bridge the gap between curiosity and sales?

Not Seeing the Forest For the Trees

Tall TreeEveryone has heard that old saying, and it rings true with this process.  Once you start gathering different people signing up to receive your messages, get to know them.  Find out what they are interested in and how your company can help them.

  • Create an internal “Groups” list
  • Deliver specific messages custom to your groups

You may even discover that you will need to sub group each list, but don’t get lost in the forest.

  1. Keep your main goal in mind: Your goal is to create a profitable relationship, not to spend countless hours creating content to an audience that has no intention of engaging with your product or service.
  2. Don’t harass your audience: Here is a real life example.  I recently connected with an account representative for a local ad agency on LinkedIn.  He emailed me and asked me to join a mailing list, to which I did.  About three days later, I started receiving several daily emails from him and his company.  Within less than 10 days, I ended up unsubscribing to all of the company’s email communication.  The funny thing is, this company prides itself on being an inbound marketing company.

Do Unto Others

A note to end on:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Keep this in the back of your mind as you create an inbound sales process.  Would you like to be bombarded by a company?  What makes you think anybody else would want that?

 

 

 

 

 

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Commercial Bank Branding and Football Logos

Titans HelmetsHow is it football fans can cheer for teams even though they continue to disappoint fans season after season? Better yet, how can banks learn from this during a period of employee turnover?

Let’s use the Tennessee Titans as an example.  I’m a huge Titans fan and became a fan when Coach Jeff Fisher was the head coach, Eddie George was the starting running back and Steve McNair was leading the team as quarterback.  All three people are no longer with the Titans.

  • Jeff Fisher: Now coaching the St. Louis Rams.
  • Eddie George: Hosting a college pre-game show for Fox.
  • Steve McNair: Traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2005, retired in 2008 and passed away in 2009.

This season, The Tennessee Titans have a record of 2-10, and consist of:

  • Coach Ken Whisenhunt: A head coach who runs a traditional offensive scheme that contradicts Coach Fisher’s “Run-n-Gun” approach during the McNair era.
  • Running Back Committee: Instead of a starting running back, the Titans use a three-man approach.
  • Quarterback Problems: The Titans have started three different quarterbacks this season.

So why…why do I stay a fan of the Tennessee Titans.

Steve McNair was traded to Baltimore, so why am I not a Ravens fan?

Coach Fisher is in St. Louis, so why am I not a Rams fan, instead of staying with the Titans? 

I originally became a Titans fan due to proximity.  I live in Tennessee, and the Titans are in Tennessee.  But it soon become an emotional connection as the Titans seem to be an underdog.  Shoot, even when Steve McNair was chosen as MVP in 2003, he had to share the title with Payton Manning.

What can Banks take away from this?

Recently I wrote a post that touched on hiring commercial lenders based on their loan portfolio.  The flip side of this is what happens when a bank loses a commercial lender that has a successful portfolio.

Loosing a Strong Loan Producer

It happens to just about any community bank.  The have a top producing commercial lender who gets an offer they can’t refuse from a competitor.  They leave and immediately the bank accepts the fact that they are going to lose current customers due to “their banker” leaving.  Many times, banks start building a reactive checklist, but what if they started a proactive campaign.

Reactive Approach

Making a ListAs the bank starts searching for a replacement, the bank will also review the leaving commercial banker’s portfolio so it can be divided up between their current commercial lenders.

A good bank will also look at the profitability of each customer in the portfolio to see who is unprofitable and see this as an opportunity to “lose” this customer.  Plus, they will make sure to focus their attention on profitable and potentially profitable customers on the list.

This is a good strategy that every community bank should follow, but consider adding a proactive strategy that may already tie into your marketing and sales efforts.

Proactive Approach

Instead of waiting for a commercial lender to leave, consider these tactics to entrench your customers into your bank’s brand.

  • Email Communication: Let’s assume your bank’s sales culture has a calling program in place where your commercial lenders are required to meet with their entire portfolio at least three times a year.  If that is the case, what other forms of communication does your bank use to communicate to these customers?  A bank can create an email program where the bank is sending meaningful information.  It can be about a new service, business advice or anything else that the customer would deem useful.  This approach not only keeps customers in the communication loop, but also ties them to your bank’s brand beyond the commercial lender.
  • Customer Recognition: Find ways that your bank can recognize this customer and their business.  For example, if the commercial customer has a retail business, highlight their business to your customer base, and make sure the customer knows about it.  You may even want to let a bank executive notify the customer.  That way the customer now has a connection another banker in your organization.
  • Connect on Social Media: If you have a company presence on social media, make sure you are connected to your customer base.  Better yet, if your CEO or other executives are on a social media platform (i.e. Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest), make sure they are connected with the customer and engaged with them.
  • Team Approach: Most likely a commercial lender works with a team of people when dealing with their customers.  It may be a loan processor, or maybe a cash management specialist.  Either way, it is important that your commercial customers know the entire team.  Make sure your commercial lender introduces the support staff to their customers, or at the very least, their top customers.  Also consider creating a mentoring program, where the commercial lender takes an up-and-comer out with them on customer calls.

Brand Focus

You are connecting your customer to other people and outlets of your bank.  This will continue to establish the brand of your organization by reenforcing the strengths your bank has, and will make any customer think twice before they leave you to join their “former banker.”

Now if the Titans can just get their act together, I won’t be looking for another NFL franchise.

Sporting Leadership: Mark Cuban vs Jerry Jones

Cuban and Jones HugWhen I think of professional sports and leadership, two Dallas owners come to mind: Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones.  Just like the state of Texas, both men have big, bold personalities.  Cuban and Jones are also known for winning and taking their teams to the next level of success.  These two leaders have taken different paths to make their teams great.  Here are just a few examples of what they have done; both good and bad.

Jerry Jones: The Micromanaging Visionary

When Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys back in 1989, he had a vision, that led to an unpopular decision.  He fired longtime head coach Tom Landry and replaced him with Jimmy Johnson.  Though fans didn’t understand it at the time, this decision allowed Jones to start fresh and put together a coaching and administrative staff that would follow his vision.  Jones was very hands on and the combination of him and Coach Johnson led to great draft picks and all-star players.  By having the team follow his vision and running on all cylinders, the Dallas Cowboys won two back to back Super Bowls (XXVII and XXVIII) and won Super Bowl XXX.

Micromanage Pitfall

jerry_jones_sideline

“…any one of 500 coaches could have won those Super Bowls”

Jones created a winning dynasty in Dallas.  He had the right players with Troy Aikman and Emmett Smith.  He had the right coach with Johnson.  What happened that caused the dynasty to collapse in Dallas?

Micromanagement.

When things started going wrong with his coach, he started roaming around the sidelines questioning everything.  He eventually pushed out Coach Jimmy Johnson, the man who helped execute the vision of the team’s success.  Though the Cowboys won a Super Bowl without Coach Johnson, they slowly started running downhill and haven’t truly recovered since then.

Cuban: The Passionate Instigator

Casual CubanMark Cuban became the majority stakeholder of the Dallas Mavericks in 2000.  Before that time, the team had a losing record (40% games won) and was swimming in a sea of mediocrity.  With his drive for winning, Cuban has been able to turn this team around and they keep showing up in the NBA finals.  In 2011, the team won their first by NBA Championship by dethroning “King” James and the heralded Miami Heat.

Standing Out from the Crowd

“Wherever I see people doing something the way it’s always been done, the way it’s ‘supposed’ to be done, following the same old trends, well, that’s just a big red flag to me to go look somewhere else.”

Mark Cuban has never blended in with a group; which has led to his success.  For example, Cuban realized to get the right players  he had to recruit in a different way.  One of those ways had to do with the locker room.  The Dallas Mavericks have one of the most expensive elaborate locker rooms in all of professional sports.  While others questioned why would spend so much money on a locker room, he was busy using this as a recruitment and retention tool.

Not blending in has also caused Cuban to create unneeded controversy, including his most recent comments that led to him apologizing to the family of Trayvon Martin.

IMG_4005-419x314Both Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban are passionate about their businesses and their teams.  This passion has led to success in their respected fields.  There isn’t anyone who can say that Jerry Jones has not lived up to the vision he has had with the Cowboys.  The same can be said about Cuban when it comes to inspiring people to live up to their fullest potential.

Which owner would you categorize yourself as the most?

Tactics vs. Strategy

Chess and PeopleI recently finished my last year of the American Bankers Association’s School of Bank Marketing and Management and had the honor of graduating with a great group of bankers from all walks of life.  There are several topics and schools of thought that are still running through my mind, but one concept has been lingering in the forefront: Tactics vs. Strategy.

When I talk about marketing with someone, usually tactics often get confused for strategy.  The biggest example I hear is:

What email strategies are you using?

Using email to get your message out and sell a certain product or services is a great tool, but it should not be considered a strategy.

Two other tactics that often get confused with strategy are social media and online advertising.  These three tactics are the latest communication tools business are using to market their companies to existing customers and prospects, but it is a shame that they are being confused with strategy.

Tactics Before Strategy

Years ago, I worked with someone who believed our bank needed to be on Facebook.  I didn’t fully disagree with him, but when I asked him why, his answer was,

Everyone is on it.

Now I don’t know what kind of childhood you had, but when I heard this, I wanted to answer with what my mother use to say:

If everyone decided to jump off a bridge, would you?

But instead of being snarky, I started a conversation with him by asking, what would we post on Facebook.  After the conversation, he realized our bank wasn’t positioned to be on Facebook and he never asked the question again.  Don’t get me wrong, his heart was in the right place, but he wanted to start a tactic without even thinking about an objective or strategy.

What is Strategy?

In its simplest form, a strategy is a plan to bring about a result.  For example, if your bank needs to raise deposits and decides the best way to do this is by increasing the number of checking accounts, you create a strategy to bring in more checking account customers.  That is the beginning level of the strategy.  You then start breaking down the steps of the strategy

  • Dollar Amount Goal
  • What type of Checking Accounts
  • Target Market
  • Budget
  • Tactics to Attract Target Market

The list can go on and on, but eventually leads to what type of tactics you will use to obtain your goal.

What’s More Important: Strategy or Tactic?

Tactics need strategy and strategy needs tactics.  Tactics are the actions you take to put your strategy to life and reach your goal.

Ever work with someone who says they are an “ideas man”?  Drives me crazy when I hear that.  Ideas are great, but without action, they’re nothing.  Sun Tzu put it best when he said:

Sun QuoteThink of it this way, as much effort that you put in thinking out your strategy, you need to put that much effort into your tactics.  Phoning in a tactic will not produce the same results in the amount of time as a fully thought out tactic.

Have you ever had to explain the difference between strategy and tactics to someone?  What examples did you use when communicating the differences?

 

 

7 Centimeters Vs. 13.1 Miles

Measuring TapeAt the beginning of the year, I began a weight loss program that was fueled by a “biggest loser competition” and training for a half-marathon.  The good news is that I won the competition, but the bad news was that I was unable to run the half-marathon due to a nagging injury.  Though I would like to speak more on the victory, this post will focus on the latter and how one small detail can derail big plans.

The injury occurred while completing a run 10 days before the half-marathon.  After the run, my right calf was in extreme pain, to the point it was hard to put weight on it.  After checking with my doctor and two physical therapist, the answer was a little surprising: my left foot was over 7 centimeters shorter than my right foot which caused an overcompensation in the right leg when running.  While training for long distance running, the overcompensation got the best of my calf causing it to be over used and extended.  Fortunately I worked with a fantastic physical therapist (Dean Douglas and his team at Provision Therapy) and am back to my regular distance while improving my overall pace.  With this experience, I was able to take away some points that can be applied to work and life.

Details, Details, Details

devil-details-cartoonEver have a great idea and have it fall apart over one little detail?  Well, that’s what happened to my training.  I’ve also had this happen with projects at work and situations in my life.  I’m sure everyone has run into this problem at one point and has heard the old saying:

The devil is in the details.

How to resolve this?

  • Learn from your mistakes: The best advice I received early in my career was from my mentor Dick Prince.  When I made a big mistake during my first year in banking, Dick could have given me a hard time.  As a member of the Bank’s HR department, he could have easily fired me.  At the very least, he could have lectured me for hours but instead, he asked me what I had learned from the mistake.  After spending a few minutes explaining what had went wrong and how it could have been avoided, I walked away knowing the mistake wouldn’t happen again.
  • Ask for Help: Is asking for help something you struggle with?  It took me a long time to realize that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, in fact it shows you are smart enough to know your faults. When it comes to a work project, I have a detailed-oriented person I know and trust review any important work that will have a lasting impact.  I encourage them to pick apart the entire project, and am ready to handle any criticism.

 

Balancing Act

imagesBecause there is a difference in height with my legs, my body is out of balance.  It wasn’t until I started performing balance exercises that I realized how out of balance my body was.  Fortunately no one was around to video my balancing training.

Balance in life is just as important.  Not being focused on the job can lead to a termination; but being so focused on work to the point of neglecting your family can lead to divorce.  Instead of thinking about juggling, think about integration.

Juggling vs Integration

People often think of time management as juggling which often leads to conflict.  This conflict causes an internal struggle of deciding what should be more important in your life.  Instead of thinking of it as choosing one over the other in a battle of supremacy, think about how each positively balances the other.  This type of perception eliminates any negative tendencies and instead focuses on how different aspects of your life complement your total well-being.

Closing the Gap

By keeping an eye on the details and living a balanced life, you will be able to close any gaps in your life.  This will, in turn, help you conquer tough challenges and uncover new opportunities.

Hopefully you have found this post insightful and entertaining.  Again, big props to Provision Therapy.  Check them out at www.provisiontherapy.com or find them on Facebook.

What mistakes have you experienced in life that you have walked away from knowing you won’t make again?

Lead Like Charlemagne

543088_Charlemagne-Crowned-By-Pope-Leo-III-Dec-25-800Over the weekend while watching a documentary of the Dark Ages, I was reminded about Emperor Charlemagne and the lasting impression he left in Europe.  Charlemagne was the first European Emperor after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and brought unity to Europe; though it came at a high price.

But what can business leaders learn from Charlemagne?  Here are a few concepts taken from Charlemagne that can help you and your business succeed.

Religious Conversions: Company Culture

To make sure everyone was on the same page, Charlemagne would convert conquered lands to Christianity.  By “convert” he would give people a choice, follow his God or die.

Though this is an extreme example, it does stand to point that this level of unity helped keep Charlemagne’s rule intact.  Everyone held the same beliefs, publicly had the same values and followed the same rules.

It’s similar to a strong company culture.  By establishing what your company stands for by creating standards, values and believes, you give your staff a general understanding of what you expect of them…just don’t execute them if they fall short.

County Leaders: Accountability

Charlemagne divided his land into several counties and put a person in charge of each county.  He would frequently visit each county leader to see how they were ruling the land and hold them accountable.

This type of hands-on leadership allowed Charlemagne to stay connected to his people and stay ahead of any forseeable issues. Would Charlemagne’s rule have been as vast and long if he would have just stayed locked up in his castle?  Probably not.

Take a page from Charlemagne’s book and let your leaders lead.  True leaders lead those around them by giving them a level of responsibility, examines how that person handles situations, and reacts accordingly.

Education: Education

Charlemagne understood the importance of education.  When coming into power, he was one of only a very small group of leaders that actually learned how to read.  During his time, only monks and other religious leaders placed an importance of literacy; but Charlemagne understood that knowledge is power.

As a leader, it is important to understand that you must always quench your thirst for knowledge.  Reading, taking classes and having a good mentor are just a few ways to continue your educational path.  Learning shouldn’t just end with you, rather you should make sure those around you are seeking knowledge as well.

By creating an accountability system and establishing an educational foundation, you will start laying the foundation of a strong company culture.  You may not become the Emperor of Europe, but who wants that anyway?

Which historical leader do you look to for business and/or life lessons?  Is there a historical leader who’s traits you admire?  If so share your opinion in the comments section.

Alienating Your Fans

ClarkIn January, the Chicago Cubs announced they will be introducing a new mascot named Clark.  The announcement received mixed reviews that created a firestorm of comments on social media sites, sports focused websites, sports talk radio and other communication outlets.

It even caused one of my friends to make the following post on facebook:

John Clark Post

Which eventually led to this:

Pirates Jersey

The Chicago Cubs organization believes the new mascot will lead more families to Wrigley Field, which will lead to increased ticket sales and build brand loyalty to a new, young group; but will it work?

Anytime a company decides to make a change: update a logo or do a complete overhaul of their brand, there is bound to be a backlash.  A company has to decide how much they’re willing to pay for a change by examining the short term and long term impacts.

Price and Reward

short long arrowsBefore making a change, think about what it will cost you in the short term and how that will impact long term success.

Short Term Cost: Before a change is made, a company has to spend time to make sure the change works.

  • Time spent internally pulling the right resources together to develop the change.
  • Cost associated with researching to make sure change is worth it.
  • Assets used announcing the change, both within the company and to the public.
  • Potential loss of profit due to upset customers who decide to shop elsewhere.

Though these points are labeled “short term” they can lead to long term issues.  For example, if the change is so big and confusing, it can take years to effectively communicate the change to your customers.

What benefits will change bring?

  • Possibility of improved customer service and an increase in customer satisfaction
  • Increased repeat business from current customers
  • Brand new customers

The important thing is to make sure the company can survive the short term pitfalls so it can reap the long term benefits.

JCP

One real life example is JCPenny.  In 2012, the company tried to change it’s image from a store where coupons and everyday sales were the norm, to a store that had simple pricing. The change was big, JCPenny not only spent money changing their stores, but created a huge national TV campaign bragging about the changes, and essentially recreated their brand.

This had a negative impact on live long shoppers of JCPenny and created huge hurdles that the company couldn’t conquer.  People went to social media to complain, and the constant negative word of mouth reactions led to JCPenny to back peddle and go back to their old ways.

In the long-run, a strategy like that works on paper, but the backlash from their fan base led to short term losses that were so bad, JCPenny fired their new CEO and brought back the old regime.

So will the new mascot for the Cubs be worth it, or will it end up like the JCP’s simple pricing structure?

Have you

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