I recently had the opportunity to work with Duane Reed, the Founder at Inside Success Training and Consulting, Inc. and the President of CEO Focus. He asked a great question. While most businesses are looking at opportunities for growth, Duane asks "What's your business velocity?" A car stuck in first gear will eventually travel a great distance, but how fast does your car or, in this case, your business run normally without overheating (late nights, communication mishaps, deadline scrambles)?
After all, being at the right place at the right time is how you tap those new business opportunities, but you need the infrastructure to adjust course and travel there efficiently.
A lot of this has to do with good decision-making: isolating a few reasonable alternatives and being able to compare them in an objective, informed environment. Duane recommends developing an infrastructure to make good decisions, as businesses struggle more often, not because they make poor decisions, but because they fail to make decisions in the first place.
One excellent resource for businesses in this regard is Second Opinion, which offers a lot of unique decision-making resources. This innovative company has replaced the old model of decision-making in which leaders must rely on input from people too close to be objective, uninformed opinions or high-priced consultants.
Other ways Duane lists to increase your business velocity are deepening relationships with your existing clients, increasing your product offerings and cutting costs, but he says that decision-making is often the linchpin. If you can improve the infrastructure behind your decision-making, you can travel much faster, more reliably, just as if your car had gotten a brand new transition.
(Photo by Mattia Righetti on Unsplash)
Senior Manager. Advanced Industries
Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDI
Katie Woslager encouraged local businesses to consider applying for state grants awarded by her office which began to support the state's business climate aggressively following former Governor's John Hickenlooper's initiative when he took office in 2013. She mentioned several success stories regarding innovative companies and organizations, like Colorado Spring's Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation which won two grants totalling $1.5mm.
Colorado also tries to support international trade with programs such as the Export Accelerator Grant and its Global Consultant Network in 16 markets including the UK, France, Germany, China, Japan, Brazil, Mexico and the UAE which is available to local businesses for only a flat $500 fee.
Colorado has also become a model for other states in its implementation of the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) which helps local companies exhibit at global conferences.
To date the Advanced Industries has provided $60mm of funding, creating 1000 jobs in the process. The office grants $2-$5mm per grant cycle, each of which receives over 100 applicants. Given the traditional funding challenges small businesses face, Katie was able to give one example of a surprise success story involving a small company that had created an innovative process for managing the life cycle of utility poles.
rehash rote processes?
shotgun-blast questionable lists?
cajole visitors into completing forms?
await long turnaround times?
I've heard of Business Process Management (BPM), but this is BPR -- "Business Process Repetition," and it wastes a lot of money. By applying the power of marketing technology to help you deepen relationships through digital automation, you can stop repeating yourself. That's what automation is all about -- freeing up time, resources and payroll.
This is some what our panel spoke about at this week's Chamber Connect hosted by the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC. One important takeaway to get people started immediately on automation is to document marketing channels and the software each uses by making a chart that lists the individual steps that humans and computers perform to move prospects through your sales funnel. After asking yourself which processes take the most time, perform searches in Google using the name of those processes and “automation.”
You’ll be surprised what comes up. Take a look at just the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for any of the following: "campaign design automation," "sales funnel automation," "lead generation automation" "LinkedIn connection automation," "auto connection software," "Customer Intake automation," "customer service automation" or "appointment setting automation."
For every process you can automate, you reduce your workload and free up resources so that humans can spend more time doing what they do best -- building relationships with your customers and prospects.
Here are some automation solutions widely used now, with more coming every day:
Each of these helps you raise revenue while cutting costs. It's worth a running a few Google searches to get even a glimpse of what tools are already out there.
We got away from it for a while. By “we,” I don’t mean Relationship Martech, or our industry or even our generation – I mean the whole planet got away from relationship marketing for many years. Those years were known as the Industrial Revolution. Before that, all transactions were based on relationships, going all the way back to the Dawn of Marketing, in fact. By working strictly on a referral basis, consumers got, not just a product, but a relationship with the merchant.
But they didn’t have a lot to choose from. That’s why that Industrial Revolution became so poular: lower prices, wider selection and, eventually, globalization. Sometimes called the Product Marketing Era, its marketing was based, not on relationships, but on features and benefits. Products, like appliances for example, captured global market share by having a smarter feature set than their competitors' on the assumption that the end-users were essentially the same.
Then “smart marketers began to question this approach,” according to Responsys President Scott Olrich. “Why…were we marketing to similarities? Why not differences?”
To market to differences, mail-order catalogs like LL Bean started to segment their mailing lists, ushering in the (re)birth of Relationship Marketing. Mail-order segmentation was followed by databases linked to email, cable television, Internet searches, social media and other increasingly sophisticated marketing tools designed to match different market targets to organizations’ differentiators. These tools have now refined niche markets into highly personalized groups – allowing individual, or 1:1 (personalized) marketing campaigns.
At the same time, many of these software tools have also given consumers the power to speak out about how the products and services work or don’t work. This two-way street has enabled us to reach Relationship Marketing 2.0.
According to consultant Vignesh Subramanyan, that’s the point at which “personal recommendations are the primary driver of consumer purchase decisions at every stage of the purchase lifecycle, for the majority of product categories and industries.” Hence, we’ve now come full circle back to true Relationship Marketing for companies, associations and even governments.
But how can you have true relationships on a global scale? By automating the basic processes and freeing up humans to go deeper with your customers and prospects.
(Image Credit: Photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash)
Speaker & Trainer
Knebl Communications, LLC
Colorado Springs Country Club
Colorado Springs CO
Kevin Knebl (@kevinknebl) built on his lunch presentation with a very generous, complimentary 2.5-hour boot camp to go deeper into his social selling strategy. He started with the sales philosophy that propelled him to become the top salesman at four companies in four different industries: sales is about relationship building, even though so many people "make communicating with them like jumping through hoops of fire."
But, Kevin continued, assuming your are good at what you do, if you make yourself accessible, you will have a distinct advantage getting people to know, like and trust you. The "personal interaction" bar online is set "so unbelievably low," just using basic manners your Mom taught gives you a distinct edge in the marketplace.
If a non-threatening person stopped you on the street, you would stop and have a short, friendly conversation, but many tend to forget fundamental manners online and act too busy. This gives you an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Kevin provided LinkedIn tips:
-- Max out the 120 characters available in the headline; don't just stop with your basic title, for example, of "Financial Advisor," but list it followed by how you help your particular niche.
-- If you want extra room, create your header on the LinkedIn mobile app which, due to an apparently undocumented bug, allows an additional 102 characters for a total of 222.
-- Copy and paste into your Profile icons like asterisks for additional formatting options.
-- Add all of your contact information.
-- Add your Profile to your email footer.
-- Maximize the 2000 characters available in your summary, and write in the first person to make it relational, not a biography.
-- Add video, including impromptu videos of yourself and your fans talking about you.
-- Get your fans to write LinkedIn Recommendations for you to create credibility.
-- Add white papers, Powerpoint presentations and other media up to the platform's cap of 15 files.
-- To whatever degree you're comfortable, be an open book so that Profile visitors will be more likely to know, like and trust you.
-- Customize your invitations using pre-written templates that enable cutting, pasting and small modifications based on the contact.
-- Use pre-written templates, too, for responses and other Connection messages.
-- Upgrade to LinkedIn Premium only if you have success and experience using the free platform and are willing to commit to using the advanced features.
-- Accept all Connection Invitations unless you believe they somehow threaten your income (rarely the case). Identify their Twitter handle and connect on Twitter at the same time and send a template-based welcome message.
How many Connections should you have? LinkedIn limits them to 30,000, but, if you email a request, they will expand your cap to an additional 2500-3000! You may not need 33,000, but Kevin maintains 28,000 and says that it is important to remember that LinkedIn is a database that allows users to search and find specific information on demand. Therefore, if you're in business, having more connections is better than having fewer connections.
Sometimes people have the misconception that connecting with too many people will require management of too much information. This is a flawed assumption, just like assuming that accepting a telephone book in the 1980s would require dialing all of the telephone numbers listed. LinkedIn manages the information for you -- just treat like a Rolodex (database) to select what you need.
If you're already good at what you, instead of spending 95% of your time improving the skills you use within your profession and 5% of your time building relationships, spend 5% of your time improving your professional skills and 95% of your time becoming a relationship black belt, using these techniques.
Then Kevin brings the point home. He rejects the title of guru, because there are actually many technical aspects about social platforms that he doesn't understand or care about. He cares about relationships. He describes himself as an excellent "relationship" driver who doesn't need to to know how to fix the transmission. Instead, he says to focus on principals that never change, not technology, an ever-moving target.
You can't control technology or even how recipients will react to your messages. But you can use their responses, or lack thereof, as a filtering system, enabling unfit prospects to self-select out of your system if they don't have a positive reaction to your friendly overtures. If someone doesn't react positively to a genuinely "friendly, non-creepy" message, you probably don't want to work with them anyway.
Speaking of what you can control, Kevin says it boils down to only two things: you can only control your work ethic and your attitude. If LinkedIn went away tomorrow, the principles of relationship-based sales would still hold true, and be just as applicable, like the constant of gravity: take a genuine interest in others and sales will eventually come to you. LinkedIn and social media just make it easier to connect with many more prospects than would otherwise be available.
He insists you can build your profile to the heights described in only 15 minutes a day, once you understand the techniques and form a consistent habit. He adds that "every system is designed perfectly for the results it achieves," to underscore the importance of good habits.
Kevin demonstrated searching for prospects on LinkedIn and then narrowing the search results by interest. Because his network is robust, he is able to generate many potential leads and connect to them with a well crafted email that offers help in the form of referrals and ties into a mutual interest from the prospect’s Profile, using tactics he learned years ago from two relationship marketing experts: Dale Carnegie who wrote How to Win Friends & Influence People and Harvey Mackay who wrote Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive: Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate, and Outnegotiate Your Competition.
Even when he doesn’t get an immediate response, he can put the lead into his simple but very effective high-tech, high-touch contact management system which can be set up online or on paper that establishes contacts via quick social media interchanges, greeting cards and telephone calls. Kevin adds that in our connected world, old-school methods like mailed cards work better than ever.
He uses his simple lead generation system to work with 30-75 prospects whom he prioritizes as A Contacts of 10 - 25 people who get touches monthly), B Contacts (of 10 - 25 people who get touches every two months) and C Contacts (of 10 - 25 people who get touches every three months). He adds that if he needed a bigger pipeline, say if he were building a new business, he might expand it to 100-300 people, and that each person will find the right balance as they use the system.
Drop-in Visit(if possible)
Each touch is fast, about 60 seconds. He even tells telephone recipients and prospects that he's visiting that he only has a minute and keeps to his word. This way, keeping up with all A, B and C contacts takes only a few minutes each day. He also never mentions his product or service unless the recipient brings it up. This way, he can be sure that the recipient is more interested in discussing it than he is.
This goes against the training we all have that tells us to "seize upon the prospect like a pit bull," but that's the traditional marketing that offends so many, why newsletters are too often thinly veiled sales pitches and why a quick voicemail with no sales pitch that shows genuine interest are so rare. "Most people are running around at Mach 5 going broke, instead of slowing down and taking a genunine interest in people, which, ironically, would get them rich."
In a more interconnected world, it’s more important than ever to know that you’re in the relationship business. LinkedIn is a great tool to develop relationships that you can nurture. If you carefully nurture enough relationships, you will never struggle in business. Kevin offers more training on his website and invited the audience to connect with him through his social channels any time.
Speaker & Trainer
Knebl Communications, LLC
Colorado Springs Country Club
Colorado Springs CO
Kevin Knebl (@kevinknebl) has made a career of teaching people how a positive and outwardly focused online presence will help you become better known, liked and trusted, and that that is the foundation for profitable business relationships. I have followed Kevin's career since he was teaching LinkedIn clinics here in town. Since then, he has developed an international speaking and writing career getting his message out through presentations in a different cities every week, his well reviewed book The Social Media Sales Revolution and, of course, his ebullient social presence.
Kevin Knebl described his background as a piano-player turned reluctant salesman who found success as LinkedIn arose. Since then, he has helped clients earn $250mm in revenue using social strategies. His advice: don't overthink things. He credits a God-given gift for being able to break complex things down into simple, easily explained concepts. In 1993, he heard Bob Burg say "all things being equal, people will do biness with and refer business to people they know, like and trust," and this has been a guiding philosophy.
In earlier presentations, Kevin would begin by clarifying to the audience that social media is not a passing fad, but now it is so well established that this is no longer necessary. (He recommends treating Facebook like a giant 24/7 cocktail party and eWomen Network members seemed to agree.) There are only three steps to succeed with social media.
As simple as this sounds, it involves unlearning what American culture has taught us about sales where people move too quickly into pitches instead of taking the time to develop the relationship first. "Since money is just an expression of value, we need to remember that making more money involves delivering more value," according to Kevin.
LinkedIn, which now has 600 million members and acquires 2-5 new users every second, is a useful database to building relationships. Making a good first impression is even more important in the social-media era, and LinkedIn enables users to accomplish Task #1. Kevin demonstrated its many search filters that allow users to target ideal customers and the accomplish Task #2 and Task #3.
If you're interested in more information about Kevin's social strategy, stay tuned for the forthcoming Social Boot Camp to be posted after his afternoon session's deeper dive.
I took a Brian Tracy class on Effectiveness, and at the time I really dove into the Eisenhower Matrix. I added a picture to a new tab in OneNote called "Daily Priorities," and resolved to use it during a "Power Hour" I began scheduling every weekday morning.
Several years later in this seasonal time of new beginnings, I realize I've underutilized it and can get much more out of it. I still do my Power Hour (most mornings), and one of the tasks is to review Daily Priorities, but I would generally be too busy, still scrambling to finish yesterday's priorities, to think a lot about urgent vs. important.
But this morning I read an article by James Clear that updated the matrix with action verbs in consonance: Do, Decide, Delegate and Delete. That's a phrase even I can recall quickly.
I also liked the article's observation that elimination (starting with the bottom two quadrants) is more important than optimization, quoting Kevlin Henney's quip regarding programming that “There is no code faster than no code." He also touches on an issue I have of wanting to work faster rather than smarter:
"Too often, we use productivity, time management, and optimization as an excuse to avoid the really difficult question: 'Do I actually need to be doing this?' It is much easier to remain busy and tell yourself that you just need to be a little more efficient or to “work a little later tonight” than to endure the pain of eliminating a task that you are comfortable with doing, but that isn’t the highest and best use of your time. As Tim Ferriss says, 'Being busy is a form of laziness — lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.'
I took a deeper dive and found another article that suggested limiting each quadrant to no more than 8 tasks and another, by Michele McDonough, that pointed to the matrix's chief point of failure: categorizing tasks consistently, which I had not seen the value of before and, consequently, passively deleted out of my matrix routine. To counter this, she gives very tangible definitions of "urgent" vs. "important.": "A task is considered important if your goals are furthered by completing it....[while a task] is considered to be urgent if you or someone else feels it needs to be addressed immediately."
Of course, probably no one has written more about the Eisenhower Matrix than Stephen Covey who covered the concept well in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First but, surprisingly, didn't seem to mention President Eisenhower's invention of the concept. Perhaps that's because the former President accomplished too much to be thought of as merely a project manager.
I remember when marketing departments were a team of media buyers and designers; now it’s much more about data science and automation. I’ve played a small part in that transition, starting in 1987 when I brought desktop publishing to local advertising in Maine. After my first web project in 1993, I managed some of the earliest banner ad and search marketing campaigns, co-founded 2 dot-coms, helped the State of Maryland fight spam, developed social media strategies for clients like Celestial Seasonings and launched one of the first apps on Capitol Hill.
By that time, we all had begun to broadcast personal data about our identities, preferences and whereabouts continually from our pockets, thanks to smart phones. Privacy advocates were alarmed, but billions accessed the increasingly relevant information anyway.
Privacy is important, but relevance is essential: the best and only defense against our very serious 21st century problem of information overload. The novelty of 500 million search results at a time had finally worn off, and relevance had always been my battle cry in my decades-old personal vendetta against spam and junk mail.
At the turn of the last century, the average American encountered about 12 marketing messages a day. Now it’s well over a thousand, so relevant information is more important than ever, and a global economy demands that information processing be automated.
I learned about bots in 2016 when interviewing a guest on my radio show, The Marketing GPS Challenge Hour and became more interested in marketing automation. Soon, martech (short for “marketing technology”--my field finally got a name) was what I was building, speaking and evangelizing on as I found technologies to harness relevant, actionable information from the every-rising tide of data.
The purpose of all of this is to deepen relationships. Wait, am I about to use “computers” and “relationships” in the same sentence? Yes, computers, the great information sorters, are best at sifting through data. If we get computers to do a better job handling the excess and the mundane, humans become more freed up to address what’s meaningful, and it’s what’s meaningful--things you actually care about--that builds relationships.
In fact, marketing has come full-circle from pre-industrial days when you bought goods and services based on who you knew. Then transportation brought globalization, and, in the last couple decades since those first banner ads, the Internet has now made relationship marketing possible again, on a global scale. Marketing automation is the key to streamlining, saving time and labor and empowering those relationships.
Call me a relationship “martech-er.”
Being fascinated with the economic and social changes created by digital technology, I've been a big fan of the Millennial generation. This is mostly because, having been born after the Internet, they are the first Connected Generation and partly because I like to counter the age-old urge to denigrate the next generation as a way to romanticize the past. Every generation has thought the next generation "wasn't up to snuff," (a biting critique of the Lost Generation made by their parents over a century ago). I also like the rise in charitable giving and minimalist living.
Now the Millennials, the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, "is starting to flex its economic and social muscle," according to #DailyRundown, "and their choices and priorities reflect a few differences from their predecessors, and a sobering understanding of their generation’s financial circumstances." Here's what they want:
I would add that they also want a more enlightened use of technology. Remember the iPad-saavy baby frustrated with a "broken" magazine she tried to pinch and zoom? Today's new leaders like accessibility, automation and analytics. I guess that's the new reading, writing and 'rithmatic.
Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR)
October 2, 2018
Andy Vick updated on new community initiatives from the regional arts community, including Arts Month 2018, the 11th Annual Business & Arts Lunch, and the Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. The latter program just received funding to build a website that will provide free art-based therapy to military veterans beginning April 2019.
Andy reports that the local arts and culture community provides $153.3 million in annual economic impact to the community. One example of this is First Friday Art Walks, supported now by a free shuttle that connects three main "art districts" in the region. COPPeR's website, PeakRadar.com, is another free service that lists hundreds of cultural events of the region and is seeing record traffic growth. It sources event content from venues and hosts who register free accounts to promote their activities.
In discussing emerging trends, Andy said that 300 arts events are occurring this month alone and that Colorado Springs is gaining a reputation for its growing arts focus. Having left a career in marketing and human resources to manage a successful fine arts and crafts business with his wife for ten years, he is very familiar with art shows, galleries and cultural trends around the country and believes that Colorado Springs is becoming a focus for arts and culture.
He pointed to the merger of the Fine Arts Center, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary next year, and Colorado College as building a strong financial foundation for this venerable institution, originally founded as the Broadmoor Arts Academy shortly after the turn of the 20th century. Also, the new Ent Center is a state-of-the-art (no pun intended!) facility that really helps solidify the city as an arts destination.
COPPeR is manages an annual budget of $500,000 that supports four employees and promotes selected events. It sources some city funding as well as private donors and grants. COPPeR is not a membership based organization, so there are no membership fees and all services are free to the public.
Most local arts organizations were founded in the 1970s and 1980s and many are part of their city governments, receive line-item funding. Art, however, "took a back seat" in Colorado Springs during that period according to Andy, so "we have some catching up to do. COPPeR, founded 12 years ago, is now in "high-growth mode."
Tom McClintock is the owner and founder of Relationship Martech.