Archives for category: B2B

Papers imprison, thoughts sentenced to cold dark night, winter without spring.

It’s me.

I am my own worst client. As a creative, I am plagued with a constant stream of ideas, inspiration, images and layouts that, at the best of times, are difficult to get down on ‘paper’ before the next thought crowds it out or another way of treating the original idea makes me stop and rethink things even before I’ve really gotten to the meat of it.

It’s frustrating when I find sites like LogoFaves and Creattica that are jam-packed full of awesome and I can’t even decide on a font face, let alone an iconographic logo treatment…  And what about a website for myself? Do I go WordPress or html? If I go WP, do I buy a theme from Themeforest or Press75 or would that be considered cheating? Do I spend the time modifying a free one or try and build my own?

Just the other day a friend/client of mine asked me for my business card as he had someone who wanted some creative and marketing work done for them and wanted to recommend me (for which I am humbled and very grateful). Embarrassed, I had to laugh and tell him I don’t have any.

“But you have a website I can send him to, right,” he asked.

“Yeah… no, not really. Not at all…”

He was incredulous.

“The thing is, I spend all of my spare time working on other jobs, for other clients, that I honestly haven’t had the time to dedicate to creating my own brand,” I said.

And this is the crux of it for me – with my 9-5 plus working evenings and weekends for side projects, the spare moments I do have left are spent with my kids and scraping the bottom of the creative barrel to smack around my own look and feel.

I know I’m not alone in this turmoil, so if you’ve faced a similar demon please share what you did or didn’t do to help clarify things for you. Where did you draw inspiration from? What was your “Aha!” moment?

With any luck I will be able to continue to pull in referral business despite a gaping void for a portfolio and online presence (save for this blog, a meagre LinkedIn account, and my twittersphere) until I can finally decide on some basic stuff like Prussian Blue or Van Dyke Brown for the mountains

There you go.

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Glutton for techno-punishment? Host your domain on GoDaddy.com OR launch the BB web browser.

I can’t stand the BlackBerry web browser.

I have a Bold for work and earlier this week almost tossed it into traffic because of it’s painfully shitty web browser.

Why in the name of Bruce would I need to go to the BlackBerry search page just to get to the Google search page?! And the f*cking zoom/pan/click process is criminally frustrating.

The help files tell you to simply ‘change the Home Page Address Field’ – easier said than done when you can’t edit the Home Page Address Field.

Sorry, BB, you’ve got a lock on mobile business tools but for the love of my Keurig, do SOMETHING about your browser!

If you’re looking for a great way to drive up your blood pressure and need another fist-sized hole in your wall do one of two things:

  1. Sign up for a web-hosting account with GoDaddy;
  2. Launch the web browser on your Bold and find out when the 1:47 train from Union arrives at Oakville.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

#BrowserFAIL.

Jobs and Wozniak in 1975

I wish I still had my hair...

Steve Jobs used to be just some nerdy guy with funky hair.

Mark Zuckerberg? Same.

Same with Jim Sinegal (Costco), and Craig Newmark (Craigslist), and Pierre Omidyar (eBay) and so on. They all used to be just plain, regular, you-and-me-type folk, with regular lives, in regular homes, with regular shoes, and regular problems.

Then one day, after a lot of hard work, they got big.

The thing about becoming big, and one of the most important aspects of keeping yourself there, is humility. What I mean is, knowing that in your not-so-distant past, you were NOT big and didn’t sit atop a pedestal looking down upon the general populace.

It is in respect to this level of humility and grace that I comment on Mitch Joel, President of Twist Image, marketing guru, social media visionary and all-around nice guy.

I was thinking about hosting some podcasts on my company’s website and was looking to get some direction on software, hardware, pitfalls, process, etcetera, so naturally I reached out to someone who podcasts regularly and whose podcast and blogs I subscribe to: Mitch’s Six Pixels of Separation.

I shot him an email in response to one of his blog posts and much to my surprise and amazement he not only replied to my email, but did so within 24 hours and provided a link to a “How To” posting on how he does what he does.

Mitch is a much sought after public speaker, the author of a highly respected book on social media marketing, president of a very successful (and busy) marketing company, and he took the time to reply to an email from someone he doesn’t know asking for help on how he does what he does.

That’s like getting batting tips from Mark McGuire, or financial advice from Warren Buffet. The fact that Mitch took the time to respond with contextually accurate and helpful advice to what I can only imagine would have been one of hundreds, if not thousands, of emails from a total stranger working for a company that isn’t even a blip on his radar is completely flattering and professionally astounding.

Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel

Smart guy. Smart book.

That says a lot about Mitch Joel.

I would highly recommend subscribing to his podcasts, his blog and most importantly, buying his book (I read it,really enjoyed it and am successfully putting into practice some of the concepts described therein).

Thanks again, Mitch.

If you use, or are required to use, a CRM tool at your current job I am sure you’ve got something negative to say about it.

No disrespect to Salesforce, NetSuite, Oracle, ACT!, or any of the other 46,000 ‘tools’ available, but honestly, stop and think about what you’re building. Then take a good hard look at what a CRM tool is supposed to do, by definition.

Why not let me, the user, decide what to call a campaign and what to call a template. Why not let me link things together sensibly instead of forcing me to use whatever architecture your developers came up with? Why not give me better and more convenient control over my sales territory information? How about drag and drop simplicity for building ROI and participation reports?

Most importantly, why can’t anyone give me a tool that actually lets me manage/monitor/maintain my customer relationships by synching up my entire staff’s communication with my customers, in a drill-down dashboard view (Google), with look-back and trending (Google)?

I don’t know about you, but I’d kick and scream to get the budget for a product like that (Google). If only to see, in real-time, how happy my customers are with my products, and how my staff is working to keep them happy.

Case in point: I received a call from a Bell customer service rep the other day, inquiring about my satisfaction level with their products and services and seeking to upgrade my subscriptions.

I asked them, politely, if they were kidding.

They paused then started into paragraph 2 of the canned speech.

I asked to speak with their supervisor, which took them a bit by surprise as to this point I hadn’t said more than 3 words to them. They told me that they would be only too happy to answer any questions I might have, and wondered if I had a problem I needed to discuss.

“Do you have my customer record in front of you?” I asked.

“Sir?”

I clarified by saying, “Do you have my customer record in front of you showing what Bell products or services I currently subscribe to?”

Stammering, he replied, “Sir, I have your name and phone number that is part of your account…”

“And what does it say about my current Bell services?” I interrupted.

Hesitantly, he says “That is why I am calling, sir, to see if you are happy with our…”

“Clearly you’re in a call centre, so tell me, what products or services are listed under my name in front of you on your screen?”

From the other end I could hear the hundreds of other reps chatting gayly away, but my guy is dead silent.

“I haven’t used Bell for phone or any other service for almost a year because of their deplorable lack of customer empathy. Please take my name off your list now.” and I hung up.

Summary: If you have customers, treat them well. If you lose a customer, update their record THAT DAY. If you’re inclined, conduct a post-mortem interview to identify what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening to another customer.

I was just in Charlotte, NC for an extended long weekend that encompassed Black Friday and three thoughts stuck with me for the duration of my trip:

  1. Americans really know how to put on a sale.
  2. How does the U.S. stay in business?
  3. I’m getting fleeced by retailers at home.

I live just outside of Toronto and have a couple friends/co-workers that live in the states who continually comment on how expensive things are here. Living here you don’t notice because it’s the norm, but now I couldn’t agree more, especially after spending a stupid amount of time with my mouth wide open in the wine & beer section of a grocery store in Charlotte.

I cannot for the life of me understand why a bottle of Crown Royal, a CANADIAN rye whiskey, costs twice as much here as it does in the States. And how the hell can the Canadian government justify charging $36 for a 24 of Alexander Keiths (again, made in Canada), when 40 minutes from my house, in Buffalo, it’s $23.99 – AND IT’S AN IMPORT!? So let’s turn the tables – a case of Sam Adams Boston Lager in Buffalo runs about the same as Keiths $24, but here in Ontario where it is listed as an IMPORT, it’s $45. Cripes!

Nike Structure Triax

I'm making a run for the border

To the point of how can America stay in business, I am a runner and need new shoes. I went to my local Running Room and tried on a pair of $150 (pre tax) Nikes. Nice but pricey. I walked out of Dick’s Sporting Goods in Charlotte on Black Friday with the exact same pair of shoes for $48.69.

Black Friday or not, the regular price for the shoes was more than $70 less, add a $20 sale tag, plus a coupon for the weekend (not even tied into Black Friday), and I got me a new set of kicks for a steal. WTF?!

What kind of mark-up is that? What sort of import tariffs and taxes are Canadian retailers forced to pay in order to carry similar items in their stores? More to the point, why the hell is everything in the States so much cheaper? Volume discounts for retailers is one thing, but what if it’s a cross-border company that buys en masse to stock their shelves in both countries (Chapters, Best Buy, etc)?

Buying shoes (or any number of other items, for that matter) online just isn’t an option for me without first having tried the shoes (item) on – the whole “box of chocolates” thing – so shopping at the brick and mortar is a necessary first step…

I also wear glasses (yippee) and recently had a visit with a local optician, looked through their frames and was quoted $500+ for a new pair. Go online, the same pair is $210, lenses, coatings and shipping included. This scenario makes sense! The online store doesn’t have to worry about the brick and mortar overhead, the human capital costs, etc. But these exceptions don’t apply when you compare apples to apples, or storefront to storefront.

This is an issue we are facing at my current employer where we also sell to both Canadian and American clients (B2B) and are now revisiting our pricing and packaging strategies to target a different niche in our market. We don’t want to get burned by offering one person a better price than another because we know for a fact that someone somewhere will share this information to their peers and we’ll be up the creek.

But at the same time in order to appeal to this niche we need to take a different price/pkg approach… and this niche is on both sides of the border but is linked to the rest of our clientelle via word of mouth and industry contact. Sonofagun – so do we offer our product to one group at a lower rate or in a different package/configuration than the other just to tap this market niche, full well knowing that the new package is probably all the original purchaser wanted in the first place but wasn’t an option at the time of sale? How do we handle the potential flood of existing customers who will then want the base package because they feel it would save them money in the short term even though the product they have is functionally superior to the new package? Guess we’ll see soon enough…

For now, I don’t think I’m going to be buying anything soon on Canadian soil – sorry folks, but that’s the way it is. I just hope none of the Xmas gifts I’m going to pick up on Military Rd in Buffalo will need to be returned… Better idea, give a goat!