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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.


What Money Can’t Buy December 28, 2013

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I just finished reading What Money Can’t Buy, a thought provoking book by Michael Sandel, a Government Professor at Harvard University. His recent work discusses how pretty much everything in our world now has a market value. Many of the things that can be bought and sold may astound you – it did me.

Today we see everything from “branded” police cars, stadiums and subway stations to “purchased friends” that raise one’s popularity on Facebook. Are there certain things in life that should have no price?

Dr. Sandel does a fantastic job of providing pro/con arguments about some of the most pressing moral arguments in our time.

Is everything for sale? Why not pick up a copy and share your opinions.

Calm at the Holidays December 24, 2013

Posted by Jack Macholl in Communications, Marketing Planning, Sales.
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The “last-minute deals” are still pouring in to the e-mail in-box and retail stores are pressing the envelope to the limit, staying open this evening on Christmas Eve until 6:00 PM or later. It often appears the world of marketing is beyond “always on.” In the past few years we’ve evolved to a new level of frenetic pace, evidently this is the new “norm.”

In 2014 we’re sure to see many new breakthroughs in the world of marketing communications. Filtering what’s really essential and the latest vapor terms will be the usual challenge.

For those of us celebrating Christmas, it’s time to power down, filter out and go back to social as we knew it as kids, face to face with family and friends.

Thanks to everyone who has subscribed to the blog, weighed-in with comments and encouragement. My plan is to have new material and be diligent about sharing some new, (hopefully) cool insights as we navigate the wild world of marketing.

Enjoy the calm and your time off at the holidays.



Customer Interaction- literally December 7, 2013

Posted by Jack Macholl in Uncategorized.
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Santa arrives at Edison Park.

Today Santa came to Edison Park on Chicago’s northwest side. Part of a merchant traffic builder event to extend the post Small Business Saturday holiday shopping season momentum, local residents came out to enjoy a moment of community spirit. We hear a great deal about building interactive, online communities. Today we experienced an event, perhaps difficult to quantify from a marketing standpoint, but human and important nonetheless.

Keeping the Small Business Saturday Momentum Going December 2, 2013

Posted by Jack Macholl in Sales, Uncategorized.
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It was good to see many people making cash registers ring on Small Business Saturday. Merchants in my little corner of the world set up window and street displays, going all out to make shoppers feel welcome in their stores.

We’re now in the midst of all the Cyber Monday clamor, but I’m hopeful the momentum will continue and small business owners who put so much at stake to be there for us realize the benefit of our patronage in spite of the media barrage by the big box players.

Please share your local small business story…Image


Small Business Saturday November 26, 2013

Posted by Jack Macholl in Marketing, Sales, Uncategorized.
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The barrage of media advertising is in full-tilt, some of the TV spots are already worn out and it’s not even Thanksgiving.

Amidst all the clutter it’s time to consider shopping at a small, locally-owned business this holiday season. On Saturday businesses around the globe will be seeking to have their voices heard when Small Business Saturday provides a momentary opportunity to stand out.

I’ll be doing some shopping in my Chicago neighborhood, how about you?Image

Elevator Pitches- How NOT to do one November 22, 2013

Posted by Jack Macholl in Uncategorized.
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ImageIn almost a decade of advising clients on marketing strategy and communications issues, the subject of “storytelling” or the ability to convey your brand “essence” surfaces quite often. From my vantage point it is still very important to venture out in the community and build an active grass roots movement to connect other humans with your story.

Let’s say you’re at a local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary or maybe a professional group meeting. You meet someone and they ask,”so what do you do?”

How do you respond to that?  Is this where we employ the “elevator pitch?”

As I see it, most of the advice we’ve been given about “30—second elevator pitches” hasn’t been all that good. I’d like to share how not to do one…

When you analyze it, speaking with people is a delicate function. We really need to break thoughts down in to “bite size” chunks so not to overwhelm this person we just met.


 I would suggest breaking your “story or abbreviated pitch”  down to three stages- using your intuition to determine how interested the person is. The first phase is about providing a brief 30,000 foot overview point about what you offer…

First you need to establish-

Awareness- provide a high level overview of your story. This is particularly valuable as you work on a grass roots campaign to explain or differentiate your business or non-profit organization. Ideally if you can get to the crux of what you do in a sentence or two, that should suffice.

Next there’s-

Connection– if the person you are speaking with appears interested or begins to ask questions about your organization, you can proceed to explain the “differentiator” why you are great at what you do or what breakthroughs you have to offer.

After you allow a moment for that statement to be absorbed or perhaps the person you’re conversing with may or may not comment, you can then move it up a notch to-

 Understanding- this is the portion of the conversation where you try to see if the person is agreeable to learning more about your products, or perhaps in the case of non-profits, volunteering or donating to the cause- creating action.

If there is a clear level of interest or engagement, you may wish to ask,

“Would you like me to send over some information?” – I’d suggest exchanging business cards (yes, they still have a purpose…) or e-mail addresses. If you have a brochure or fact sheet available, by all means share it. Say you have an event  or seminar coming up, why not invite them?

In this world of personal brand building I read an awful lot of these “five ways to” posts, a great many about elevator pitches. Human communication is an interaction, this is (hopefully) the beginning of a relationship; typically you don’t walk up and unload your whole life story in one breath. If you ease in to conversation, touch on a few high level points people can quickly grasp, then it’s that’s where you’d want to begin.


Often these “how-to, five step tip” posts fail to discuss proper follow-up mechanisms. Here’s what I’d suggest for remaining in touch with people you meet.

E-mail is always a good start or perhaps a handwritten note with your business card. Thanking the contact for the opportunity to speak and hoping your paths will cross again soon– that simple phrase says a lot about your desire to establish a relationship.  If they appeared very interested there is nothing wrong with a phone call to invite them to meet or attend something the prospect might find beneficial.

Anywhere we can make our communication clear, consistent and very human, appealing to the emotions is where we want our “elevator speech” to be.


The Business of Belief November 16, 2013

Posted by Jack Macholl in Uncategorized.
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I just finished reading Tom Asacker’s book The Business of Belief. Clearly this is more than a marketing book, it covers spiritual beliefs, history and the importance of change and building new models that work. Many of our Congressional members that continually cling to the past may want to pick up a copy.

A short book with a great deal of impact- great for a plane ride read.