More Than Just an Email

email tabletRecently, I received a couple of unrelated emails that contained great content.  One email was from a promotions vendor and they were promoting a sell on a cool promotional item.  The other was an email for a local advertising agency that contained some excellent content.  When I read the emails, I immediately wanted to share the information on Twitter and Pinterest.  The problem was the emails didn’t have a “share” link and I couldn’t find a webpage or blog post dedicated to it.

Positive Take Aways

I know hindsight is 20/20, but here are some points that got me thinking after reading these two emails.

Measuring Success

Measuring TapeOdds are, these two companies are measuring success by open rate.  Though this is a good metric, it shouldn’t be the only one.  Others to consider are:

  • Sales Conversion
  • Building a Prospect List
  • Click-Through Rate

Of course the first metric, sales conversion, is the Holy Grail of measuring success, but the other two are just as important.  One way to help improve sales conversion in the long run is to track the other two metrics.

Building a prospect list allows you to eventually convert a lead into a sale.  The click-through rate shows how engaging your email message is.  Depending on your tactic and overall goal of your email strategy, this can be a source of information with regard to what gets your customers to act.

Most third party email marketing providers (i.e. Constant Contact and Emma) measures your click-through rate and gives advice as to how to effectively build a prospecting list.

Online Content

Have you ever considered blogging your email content?  For many businesses that consistently sendkk newsletters to an audience, this is an easy transition.  Even if your business doesn’t produce a newsletter, consider blogging what you currently send.  Depending on the size and consistency of your email content, this too can be an easy process.  But be careful, no one wants to keep reading about advertisements on a blog.

When creating an email message that will translate to a blog post, keep these three points in mind:

  1. Tell a story, but cut the fluff
  2. If the message is too long in an email, add a “read more…” link
  3. Make sure you focus on your audience and not your ego

Getting a wider reach

A big positive about converting your email content into blog content is the opportunity of gaining a new audience.

Real Life Example: Live on Location

wbir4During the fall of 2014, my company, a local community bank, hosted a fundraiser tied to a high school football game.  The high school football game is played every year and each high school participates in a food drive for a local food bank, the Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County.  To help support the fundraiser, we hosted a tailgate themed event at our bank office.  We emailed our customers to let them know about the event and sent a press release out to local media.  Since written content had already been created, I was able to take the press release/email and convert the text into a blog post.  Once the blog post was created, a few tweets were sent out on twitter about our fundraising event.  Our local NBC affiliate, WBIR, was actually going to broadcast the football game and one of their news anchors, retweeted the message.  Word spread and WBIR broadcasted live on location during their Live at Five at Four program. The event raised roughly the equivalent to 3,760 pounds of food for the Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County.

Share it

So if you have news you are communicating to your current customers, and think others will benefit from it, then share it.  That benefit can open the door to opportunities that were not possible before you started sharing.

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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?

Zombie Business

Are zombies lurking around your business?

Last week, while attending a webinar hosted by Lee Wetherington from ProfitStar (@leewetherington and @ProfitStars) the term, Zombie Branches came into play.  The phrase Zombie Branches has been used for a while in the banking industry and is used to describe a bank branch that consistently losses money and drains profits from the entire bank.  Here are a couple of signs a branch has joined the undead:

  • A branch is paying out high interest rates for deposit accounts like CDs or interest bearing checking accounts, but does not have any loan customers.
  • A branch may be busy with customers all day, but the customers are cashing checks or performing a non-income transaction.

Thought this is quiet an illness, banking is not the only industry that suffers from this epidemic.

  • It’s the same plague that ended Blockbuster
  • Circuit City also collapsed under this dead pressure

Essentially all retail businesses can be exposed to this toxic disease.

The good news is, unlike the monsters on The Walking Dead these zombie branches (or zombie locations) can be cured.  Here are four examples with a financial institution point of view.

  1. Increase Foot Traffic: Start a special sale at the zombie location.  Sponsor a lunch and learn focused on a common need.  Host a fun seasonal event.  Better yet, do all three!  Just be sure you and your team are equipped with the right tools to make this a success.
  2. Cross Sell: Maybe foot traffic isn’t the problem.  As previously stated, some zombie locations currently have people coming in the door, but they are not driving income.  If the same person continuously enters the branch, find out who they really are.  Maybe they’re a small business owner in need of a new merchant services program.  Maybe they’re a person who needs a safe deposit box.  Either way, both are great services that can produce decent fee revenue and really help out a person.
  3. Increase Sales: If options one and two fall flat, maybe it’s time to work on selling.  Short term solutions like hiring a seasoned sales person mixed with a long term sales training & coaching program can shift the office in the right direction.  Throw in an incentive program for extra motivation and your team will be cooking in no time.
  4. Innovate via Technology: Take a very close look at what you are currently offering your customers.  Are you missing out on any services that can help them (and you) succeed?  Prepaid cards, mobile apps and remote deposit technology are three ways the banking industry is taking a problem and turning it into an opportunity.

Even thought these examples where examined in the eyes of a banker, the main points can be applied across several different retail and B2B companies.

So, before you decide to figuratively use a blunt object to kill the zombie (aka closing a location), remember there are other options available.

Marketing Campaigns: Follow the Yellow Brick Road

A few weeks ago I met with a business acquaintance for a cup of coffee.  While talking, we stared brainstorming and drafting a marketing campaign.   Our overall focus was around three components: vision, passion and execution.  When thinking about each stage, I couldn’t help but be reminded of The Wizard of Oz.  Growing up, my elementary school made us watch this every year, so the characters are deeply embedded in my mind.  In fact, it’s one of only a handful of musicals I enjoy watching.  With that in mind, here are three fun comparisons.

Vision: The ScareScarecrowcrow
Vision requires a sense of understanding.  What do you want to accomplish?  How do you want it accomplished?  In other words, use your brain.  Throughout the movie, the Scarecrow’s key objective was to get a brain.  That was his goal, he had a vision of how different his life would be with a brain.  Little did the Scarecrow realize that he came up with several great ideas throughout the entire journey.

Tin ManPassion: The Tin Man
The best planning in the world means nothing without “heart.”  Passion is what truly keeps any marketing campaign alive and pumping.  Without passion, the most creative campaign will fall flat and be a major disaster.  The Tin Man may not have had a physical heart, but he had the mentality of a compassionate person.  His dedication and passion to the team and the goals of reaching the Emerald City is truly unique.

Execution: The Lion
Moving a campaign from paper to live action isn’t easy.  Face it, not everyone will like the plan and not everyone will like the campaign.  There will be questions from people and possibly doubts from co-workers.  Executing a well thought out marketing campaign requires a strong level of self-confidence and courage.  If someone who presents a marketing campaign shows no self-confidence or courage, how can they convince others that the campaign will work?  When we first meet The Lion, he was a coward.  He had no self-confidence and is a broken animal.  His self-confidence grows throughout the story and he becomes an individual with great courage.

Following these three steps may not immediately make someone a marketing wizard, but it is a start down a successful road.

Say What?!? 5 Things NOT to Say Around H.R.

In addition to being a Marketing Director, I also have the responsibility of handling Human Resources. At the last H.R conference I attended, there were some crazy stories shared. Here are five samples. Hope you enjoy.

  1. I’m aggressively looking for a new job
    What motivated this? A misunderstanding with a fellow co-worker. If you are upset with someone, step up and communicate to them. Sounds simple right? Sadly, some people prefer the passive aggressive way.
  2. Everything’s okay (with uncontrollable sobs)
    It is okay to vent to your Human Resources Department. Don’t get me wrong, we are NOT therapist, but we can be a sympathetic ear. We all have bad days and venting your frustration is a great way of getting over it.  What’s sad is when people try to convince H.R. (or even worse themselves) by saying everything is fine while gasping for air and crying a river. It’s especially bad if you combine this with number 1.
  3. Negative Gossiping
    If you think you have heard a lot of gossip, try working in Human Resources.  If we all believed everything we heard about our fellow coworkers, then we would all be working at the most exciting places in the world. Work would be the best drama on television. Bigger than Jersey Shore and more dramatic than Pro Wrestling.
  4. Overly describing “Last Night”
    “I had a few too many last night…” if it ended there, it would be okay. “Wow, I am sooo tired from last night…” again, not a big deal by itself. If you had a fun night, share all the details with your friends, not with H.R. Better yet, just don’t share ALL the details in general.
  5. Outright Lying
    This one blows my mind. What’s the point in senseless lying? Why lie about something that you know will be exposed in a matter of hours? Some people never learn.

Should someone be fired for any of these items? Not necessarily. We are all human and during a moment of weakness we may do one of these things. People can always be coached and, if they listen, they have the opportunity to learn how to improve.

Trust me, everything is fine…just hand me another Kleenex!

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