Be FindableRead More›
I’ve never been to Mexico until two weeks ago. I noticed something peculiar about the restaurants we ate at. They always gave you something to start with. Be it bread, oil, and vinegar, or nachos and salsa or chips and guacamole. We rarely ate a meal where we we’re “given” something to start with. I’m a foody, a fatty at heart, I LOVE that stuff! Making people happy through food, I love it.
Even breakfast at our hotel they would give you toast to start. It was like every place knew how to treat people and they new how to make your experience just a little bit better. I don’t like great service, I LOVE great service!Read More›
We hear this a lot; “Our image is our brand!” “Our logo is our brand!” “That ad is our brand!” “Our name is our brand!”
Wait, so what the hell IS your brand?
I like Bill Leider’s definition in his amazing book Brand Delusions:
Your brand is a widely held set of beliefs and expectations of what you deliver and how you deliver it, validated by customer experiences.
Until communication was put on steroids thanks to the creation of this little thing called the Internet, “your brand” was just a set of beliefs and expectation of what you deliver and how you deliver it. Customers for the most part never talked. There was no Trip Advisor, Urban Spoon or Yelp. Back then your expectations of a product or service could be influenced by commercials, billboards, and other advertisements.
Companies (Brands) could change the way you thought of them based simply on a catchy tune played before a movie or during your favourite sitcom….
“My baloney has a first name…”.
“Everyone loves Marine land!”
“Don’t cha put it in your mouth…”
“Let’s go out to the kitchen…”.
Have you heard an amazingly catchy jingle as of late? Possibly the Charlie Bit My Finger kid or Susan Boyle would be the closest.
Back then it was much easier to get your message out to the masses. You really could create major awareness for your brand or product, and it worked. The problem now is we don’t have one channel we always watch, there’s several hundred. Also, because we’ve been seeing these ads since we entered the world it’s hard to differ the signal from the noise.
Back to the definition of a “brand”.
You no longer are in control of your brand.
Everyone else is. Your brand is what people say about you behind your back. Your brand is what I find when I Google you. Your brand is what your customers say about you once they’ve left your store. Your brand is what people think of you whether you like it or not.
You can’t control it. You can only influence it. Customer service can help it (think Westjet), advertising can grow it (think Tim Horton’s), a smart HR policy will enhance it (think Whole Foods), but it’s the combination of every tiny little thing you do. Every time you come in contact with a customer or potential customer they either like you a little bit more or a little bit less. If you still think people can be indifferent to your brand, they probably can, but that’s a recipe for a competitor to come in and steal those customers away from your mediocre organization.
You’re better off creating remarkable experiences with every touch point you have with customers. From answering the phone and e-mailing, to your business cards and promotional items. Everything communication tactic is a chance to show the world what your brand is made of. Hopefully, after coming across your innovative brand several times over, your potential customer says:
“aww shucks, who is this amazing company that keeps making me smile?”. Now you don’t have to sell to them, they already are sold.
Pandora’s Promise is the story of Nuclear energy. It’s from the perspective of people that came from the Anti-Nuclear fight. Scientists that were very much against anything to do with Nuclear power kept learning more and more about the industry. They learned so much that they finally changed their stance on it.
True wisdom is taking a topic you have had a strong stance on, and upon the discovery of new facts, change your strong opinion.
People with a vested interest in one side of an argument should rarely be trusted. Therein lies the problem, “where do you find people that you can trust their opinion on such a major issue as Nuclear power?”. This doesn’t just go for the Nuclear industry, this goes for every industry. So when someone completely changes their opinion 180 degrees take note, they should be the ones you hear out.
Artifact: the 30 Seconds to Mars story
I had no idea how bad the record industry was until I watched this documentary. It’s eye opening to say the least. Personally I found myself looking up to Jared Leto, the lead singer and mastermind behind the band 30 Seconds to Mars. The struggle he and the band go through. The utter disregard for people and jobs within the recording industry.
This is just one industry that has been displaced. It will happen to more if not every industry. Do you have the courage that Jared Leto had to fight for what was right? What war are you going to fight in your industry? Who is going to be the record execs in your industry that are going to try to wipe you clean off the earth? Ok maybe a little hyperbole, but we haven’t really seen the impact of what the internet will do to every business model. Prepare for war.
This one hits a little closer to home. Teaching at Sask Poly Tech and being the president of the University of Regina Alumni Association I can see the Ivory Tower even in the institutions in Saskatchewan. In whatever you do in the connected world, the juice better be worth the squeeze. Whatever takes up your time, whatever you’re spending money on, it better be worth it.
If the cost of post secondary school out paces the value of what you are capable of once you are out, post secondary school will become obsolete. Sorry let me correct myself, post secondary school as we know it will become obsolete. Last year I took my first online course from the University of France on Coursera. The class was truly a great experience. The professor was engaging (even with a strong French accent), he loved the topic (What managers can learn from Philosophers), and any concept I wanted to go back over I just started the video over again (every week you’re sent 5 videos as your weekly lecture, they’re).
In the future you will learn whatever it is you want to learn from whoever teaches it the best in the world. Do you really want to learn consumer behaviour from a professor in Regina or do you want to learn it from the best marketing professor Stanford has? I don’t know about you but I’ll take the Ivey League schools education thank you. And yes the online education world isn’t perfect but if you are an institution and you aren’t experimenting on how to make it work online, I would be worried.
Character is doing the right thing when nobody is looking. Character is about treating people like a friend of family even when they are a complete stranger. To me, few things in life are more important than building your own personal character.
10 years ago I was at my first conference (I attended 13) in University, it was at the DeGroote School of Business in Hamilton, Ontario. 100+ students were at a pub in Hamilton and they shut down the bar because the guest speaker was about to take the stage.
I was a second year University student, you don’t close the bar on a second year University student! I was raising my voice and being a jerk to the bartender when an angel appeared (well that’s an exaggeration but Cam gave me a beer). Cam Heaps was our guest speaker that night and I got to talk to him before he talked to the group. He was one of the original partners in Steam Whistle, he was down to earth and just a fun guy who you’d think came from Saskatchewan.
In his talk he made me standup and introduce myself to the audience and then we exchanged belt buckles for some odd reason. After the talk the group from Regina was talking to him and he offered to give a personal tour on Sunday if we were interested. We were very interested!
The tour was amazing, when you tour a brewery with an owner it has it’s perks. 😉 We received Steam Whistle clothing and some collectibles and beer to bring home of course. After the tour was over we still had time to kill before our cross Canada flight. He opened up his house to go hot-tubbing before our flight, we went, it was awesome, and I learned a very important lesson.
Be overly kind to other people, especially if they are strangers.
Cam did not know us and by all accounts we were nobody’s from a little ol’ place called Regina. I think Steam Whistle grew to be an international beer sensation because of their attitude towards people. They acted like a little guy while growing into being one of the big guys.
I’ve been there too, sitting alone on a Friday night wondering; how many people are actually on Twitter in Regina?
Well thanks to a wonderful tool called FollowerWonk we can now find out!
Followerwonk allows you to do searches for people on Twitter. You can search by location, by a word or phrase in the bio or by several different factors. Below the list is made up of people who have self selected their location to include the word “Regina”.
The list is ranked by Social Authority. Social Authority is a metric developed by Moz that helps cut through the vanity metrics out there and measures influence on Twitter. Who would have thought that gaining Followers wasn’t the only thing you use Twitter for.
I first sorted them by Follower count but it wasn’t cool to see all the bots and people who hired bots and the bots who hired people at the top of that list. This is a much better look at the Regina Twitteratti.
Want to find yourself or your ex-girlfriend from Highschool? Hold ‘Control’ and press ‘F’ then type your Twitter handle.
In other news check out some of the more recent blog posts on the Stratlab blog!
Can I give you some feedback?
If you’re like me this is one of the worst phrases to hear in the English language. What they’re actually saying is “would you like me to tell you how I actually feel about you? And oh yeah, if it was good we would have already told you so it’s almost guaranteed to be negative.”
Without feedback we never learn, we never get better, and we never progress.
The extent of your management career will largely be based on the amount of feedback you’re willing to take.
I’ve said to Brandon many times that we will get as far as the feedback we’re willing to take.
I still love the Tim Sanders analogy of “how” to process feedback. He says it’s like eating an almond. Not all of the feedback is valuable, find the nut at the middle (the learning moment) and discard everything else. Rarely do we receive 100% true feedback.
Three reasons why you need to get feedback from your team:
1. If you currently think “my team loves me though, I don’t need their feedback to know that”. You need to ask for feedback soon, you’re worse off than you think. It’s always those managers who “think” their staff can give honest feedback but don’t. Instead there ends up being a revolving door for staff, lots of turnover and no long term employees.
2. It underhandedly shows your team that you care, that you aren’t a know-it-all, and that you’re not too egotistical to change. You don’t have to listen to everything you hear but you do have to make yourself available to hear people when they want to give some feedback. Listen to people shows you care, even if you know you aren’t getting the best feedback, listen, don’t talk, don’t interrupt, just listen. You’ll be amazed at what you find.
3. The teams that communicate up the hierarchy just as efficiently as down the hierarchy will be the most sought after and in turn the most effective.
If your team doesn’t have a feedback strategy soon, your competitors will. They’ll be able to turn on a dime, adjusting to feedback they’re receiving. Today it is relatively simple to setup a feedback strategy, 10 years ago a lot more difficult. 5 years from now it will be baked into the strategy of the high performing teams, and I’m sure it’ll get easier and easier to track, manage and act upon the information acquired.
In the real world if your store has a better location, if you can get in front of more people, if everyone can recognize your store from a mile away, you have a distinct advantage.
The Internet doesn’t work that way.
If you rent space in the West Edmonton mall beside a popular retailer you’re sure to increase your foot traffic. The catch is, retail space beside Holts, the Disney or Apple store will come at a premium.
When you build a website it’s like you put your store in a farmers field somewhere near Grenfell, SK. As your site acquires more links, is updated more often, you move closer and closer to a bigger town (more “traffic”). The front page of Google, the epicentre for qualified traffic, takes time and deliberate effort to get to the front page of and every day it’s getting more and more competitive.
The front page of Google is a zero sum game…
as one website goes up, another has to go down. All four major players in the market can’t rank number 1. As one company builds links and increases their rankings, other websites feel the equal and opposite reaction. If you don’t start being proactive about your online presence you’re going to see you traffic decrease from Google.
And I’m not sure if you’ve checked your traffic sources report in Google Analytics lately, Google organic search is probably your websites largest traffic provider. Might be a good idea to build a strategy to increase that traffic from Google.
You could advertise on Facebook or LinkedIn or reddit or the Leaderpost.com. Telling more people to come to your website should help you get closer to your goal.
You have defined a goal haven’t you?
OK we may need to take a step back here. No one really “needs” a website, think about it.
You need a contact us page so people can get a hold of you. You need a products page so people can see your new products regularly. You need a staff page so potential customers can see ‘who’ they’ll be dealing with if they so choose to set up an appointment. But no one really needs a website, a website is a tool, a tactic within a strategy. The sooner you recognize this the sooner you can being to use your website to its full potential.
No one really needs a website, companies need to be found, they need to be searchable, within a couple words hopefully. So that in the moment when your next customer has a problem, they pick up their phone, pull up Google and search for (insert your company’s keywords here) “funny marketing speaker Regina” and boom you’re right there.
Could it be that advertising isn’t an art form but more of a science? Are the smart marketers using frameworks like the one from Made to Stick or the one in Jonah Berger’s Contagious?
As much as advertising is an art form, there’s more science to it than you think. The slide deck of the 99 most creative ads is to show you how many companies go about their advertising. These are the best of the best, for every amazing ad there are 1000 mediocre ads that just become noise in our world.
If you want to standout, if you want to create a truly remarkable ad than read Contagious(Jonah Berger) and Made to Stick(I already told you who wrote this book). They will at least give you a framework to work under to create the next viral sensation.
Photo Credit: http://www.apple.com