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Planning for 2015- Starts Now July 28, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Bank marketing, Customer Service, Event marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Planning, non-profit, Uncategorized.
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A client new to the marketing field recently asked me when to begin planning for next year’s integrated marketing activity. Typically I advise clients to begin serious work in August/September of each year.

Depending upon whether an organization works from a calendar or fiscal year will impact this rule of thumb, however, late summer, early fall is a good time to begin work.

While facilitating marketing planning sessions, these are some of the key areas I cover:

  • Results– what has worked this year?  What have we learned?
  • Research– what are the clients saying? Are you providing answers to their “pain points”? Is there something new they desire?
  • Social for the sake of being social– is there a distinct strategy behind your Marketing and strategysocial media or are we doing this because everyone else is?
  • Objectives where are we at year-to-date? Where can we realistically aspire to be? (This is the tough conversation that requires “looking in the mirror” and resource allocation.)

Of course there are many more finite areas we cover in a planning session, but these are the non-negotiable items from my vantage point.

Another issue that leaders often fail to cover is accountability and “policing” the plan. Have you established clear responsibility centers? Which individual(s) are responsible to maintain the marketing calendar and help everyone stick to the plan?

As we all enjoy what remains of the fast-moving summer (here in the midwest anyway), August is often a great time to organize a planning session. And hey, you can meet outside, no one said we can’t catch a few rays while getting the work done…

If you have any questions on marketing planning or facilitating your strategic planning meeting, please feel free to contact me at jmacholl@wisdombridgemarketing.com or on my Skype line (847) 305-1594.

Enjoy the day.

Jack

 

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Details + Service = Satisfaction May 4, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand building, Brand personality, Communications, Customer Service, Marketing Planning, Uncategorized.
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There is much debate today about the value of social media tools like Twitter. Certainly there is no shortage of opinions being shared in real-time, 24-7, so smart organizations are monitoring their activity and protecting their brand image with vigor. The example below clipped from my e-mail is based on a Twitter post I placed online after having a few closets done in my new home.

The Container Store is one organization that clearly works hard at education for in-store employees and field installation experts (elfa System shelving). They are attentive to the details, phoning you to explain why a product is on back-order, sincerely displaying concern for any (albeit minor) inconvenience and circling back after a purchase to ensure customer satisfaction. Additional detail coverage includes little things, like installation people cleaning up, putting shoe covers on to protect your home’s interior, explaining what they are doing and offering helpful suggestions takes detail attentiveness to the value-add level. After four months of working with a general contractor who didn’t get this concept, I’d say The Container Store could make additional fee income teaching companies how attention to the details equates to client satisfaction and a long-term (profitable) relationships.

Jack Macholl @jackmacholl I love the follow-up service from the Container Store. There is a genuine concern for product delivery and satisfaction. – 01 May The Container Store @ContainerStore Follow Follow @jackmacholl That’s great to hear! Great service is #WhatWeStandFor 12:42 AM – 03 May 14 Reply to @ContainerStore Retweet Favorite

Face to Face- Priceless February 26, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Communications, Customer Service, Internal communications, Referral marketing, Sales.
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We hear a great deal about the magic of a ‘Tweet” 140 characters to deliver a message.  Others say that Skype calls eliminate the need for travel and the lost time/expense associate with in-person meetings. This technology is great, it has its place, but there are still moments, projects, and situations that require a hand shake, eye-to-eye interaction, hand drawn diagrams -a human connection.

During the past few months I’ve encountered a few situations where a 15-minute meeting unwinds all the misunderstandings and fatigue caused by an e-mail trail. Sometimes reconnecting on a human level resets a relationship, energizes it, gets things back on-track. This can work internally or with external communications, both are very important, yet unique, and should be handled with due care.

Like most things in life, communications too comes full-circle.  Face to face may be making a comeback, to me, that’s priceless.

What’s your face to face success story? I’d love to hear from you.

Enjoy the day.

The Power of Thank You January 27, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Bank marketing, Brand personality, Branding, Communications, Customer Service, Image, Marketing, non-profit, Philanthropy, Referral marketing, Sales.
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Whether you are acknowledging a present, business referral or expressing gratitude to a donor at a non-profit, sending something to express your gratitude should be standard procedure.  In our hurried SMS text and e-mail world, the power of a handwritten thank-you note is astounding.

Part of my weekly routine includes sending written thank-you cards to people who have helped with a business (or personal) matter. Today getting “snail mail” is often as infrequent as a fax. Granted there is a cost and some inertia to overcome, but what is the price of an impersonal thank-you?bigstock-Thank-you-vector-stamp-24628313

Book Review- Small Town Rules January 21, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Book Review, Branding, Chamber of Commerce, Customer Service, Image, Marketing, Marketing Planning, non-profit.
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I recently completed Small Town Rules by Barry Moltz and Becky McCray a very interesting read that likens the connected world to a small town environment where every customer can talk with one another.

Today many businesses (including the  large companies) are quickly learning that people are seeking genuine interaction and a local connection. One of the most interesting takeaways was the desire of consumers to learn the “story behind their purchases.” Instead of mission/vision statements and value propositions, many humans want some history on the business and how it adds tangible value to the community. For many that connection may prompt a consumer to bypass a cheaper option and purchase the local product because they feel  personally involved with the product or service.

Since the Great Recession began in 2008, there has been a resurgence of the Shop Local movement which is covered in-depth. The authors cover many important points about businesses needing to do more than place “Shop Local” placards in their store windows and call it a success. Taking the Shop Local concept to an urban level is also reviewed with examples from the unique neighborhoods of Chicago, a major metropolitan market with numerous chambers of commerce.IMG_0190IMG_0197

Having worked in bank marketing for decades, I found the Bank Local section particularly interesting. Many community based banks did not participate in high-risk lending practices and actually made it through the worst of the financial crash with minimal impact. During the 1990’s and 2000’s,  many larger U.S. banking organizations eliminated local community banking charters, creating large-scale branch banking networks seeking the efficiency play. Some years later the wisdom of that strategy is questionable, as more wary consumers want a “small town type” relationship with the people managing something as personal as their money.

The lessons of minimalist business management, planning for “zero years” (storing surpluses) and exactly how small town businesses have survived for generations is wisdom many business owners large or small will surely find useful.

A devoted website www.smalltownrules.com is also available to remain connected for updates from the authors.

Is Cash Making a Comeback? January 7, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Customer Service, Marketing, Sales, Uncategorized.
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Over the past few days I’ve received an e-mail from a local restaurant offering a 20% discount, discussed building material discounts and seen gasoline for a dime per gallon less if cash is used versus credit card. In spite of the improving economy there appears to be a growing trend of sensitivity from merchants that wish to avoid paying interchange fees to their credit card processor.

This could be the result of accounting advice or perhaps a lean toward stockpiling more cash in small businesses that are having difficulty accessing bank credit. The “cashless society” that was predicted back in the 80’s has  yet to fully materialize and may be realized further down the road.

Is this a trend or maybe a paradigm shift brought by necessity and change?

Be Relevant, not Big January 5, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Bank marketing, Communications, Customer Service, Interactive Marketing, Market Research, Marketing, Marketing Planning, Uncategorized.
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Marketing and strategyWe read and hear a great deal about “big data”, enormous data sets (minute details)  collected about customers that can become so large it is almost impossible to process with traditionally used business software. The buzz is about spotting trends and connecting with prospects/customers on a more intimate level made possible by technology.

What I’d like to see is relevance, the product recommendations marketers make based on fundamental customer behavior (what you’ve purchased recently, account types you hold at a bank, what credit card you carry, spending levels, etc.)  There is nothing more mind-boggling in this era of “big data” than to receive a postal mail or e-mail about a product I already have with the company. Focusing on five or six fundamental variables is the starting point I suggest. If your customer data doesn’t contain the basics or worse yet, you can’t properly access essential data you’re not even in the game.

Customer Interaction- At Least Pretend December 31, 2013

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand personality, Communications, Customer Service, Image, Marketing, Sales, Uncategorized.
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My final post of 2013 won’t be a “7 things you need to know” article, I wanted to leave you with some food for thought for the New Year.

Yesterday I decided to drive my car through a wash near my home as our midwestern road salt levels are already off the charts. The lady in the booth was on her iPhone and did not interact verbally her conversation trumped the customer interaction. Not only is this rude, it’s just plain horrible customer service. Certainly, many service jobs are not glamorous, but to simply point, take money and turn away is not portraying a quality image.

Today we’ve grown to accept self-service or perhaps marginal online chat and phone representatives as commonplace . From my vantage point certain businesses must still use face to face service as their central tool. It’s important to monitor the activity and attitude of those you have in customer-facing positions, make sure they’re at least acting the part.

A happy and safe New Year to you all.

Jack

Telling the “Local Story” September 13, 2012

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand personality, Branding, Communications, Customer Service, Image, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Planning, non-profit, Uncategorized.
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Over my years in marketing management, I’ve seen many companies miss opportunity by over analyzing business and marketing strategies.  I field questions like “should we have a QR code?”, ”  do we need to be on this Four Square thing?”- and the list goes on.

Sometimes taking a few steps back and reviewing the business purpose (core strategy) and how you will convey your “story” is much more productive than charging to the latest software or “app” (tactics).

Businesses who are winning in this world of consumer insecurity are those making a connection with customers. Explaining why they should do business with you versus the firm down the street or across the globe (value proposition). If your phones are answered locally and not by a call center 3,000 miles away, by all means tell us. Being locally owned and operated by employees that have kids on the same little league team as your child can be a strong differentiating point particularly in a world where many people feel “burned” (e.g. the financial crisis) and want a relationship with the people they’re doing business with.

Beyond telling a great “marketing story”, actually delivering on the promise (customer experience) is the true tale of the tape, as  hopefully delighted, repeat customers often lead to the sought after 20%  that account for your profitability (80/20 rule).

Not to say that apps or online commerce is bad, it’s not. The punchline- small steps, strategy first, then ensuring top-notch processes/operations are in place, then tell your story.

I’d like to hear your local success stories and what works.

Creativity- on the fly April 1, 2012

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand personality, Communications, Customer Service.
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While walking past a park in my Chicago neighborhood there were a group of 8-9 year old boys on the swings. Nothing unusual until another boy suggested playing “wood chips” – they had me, my curiosity got the best of me-had to look. In essence “wood chips” consists of the kids who didn’t have a swing  throwing wood chips at the moving kids who did.  Juvenile-check, likely an E.R. visit waiting to happen-check.

As I walked away with some memories of my own silly childhood spent in Chicago Public parks, it made me wonder at what age do people stop creating on the fly- or at all for that matter? Kids make up games, songs or dream up superheroes in their minds. The future of this country will require a great deal of creativity to keep it on the global radar. How do we encourage “creativity on the fly?”