I Wouldn’t Change Anything… Lying or Stupid!

We all have Regrets...
We all have Regrets…

We all see those interviews. The Movie star, author, politician, athlete or other hero.

“If you could change anything, what would it be…”

The interviewer asks “If you could change anything, what would it be…” and the answer is “Nothing, I am happy with everything I have done in my life…

Wrong Answer!

We all have regrets, we have all made mistakes. When I wake up at 3 AM and cannot sleep, those old sins and mistakes come back and haunt me.

We all have regrets, we have all made mistakes.

 

Do I have regrets about my life? YES, hundreds of moments and events I would like to re-live or forget.

Anyone who does not admit to these moments is a cretin or a liar. In most cases, I suspect, a liar.

The Slow Home Podcast had an interview with Rachel Macy Stafford that I enjoyed. She said.

“don’t waste time re-living old mistakes…”

The single most important (for me) comment I took away was “don’t waste time re-living old mistakes…”

For me, this is a chronic problem, but her explanation has convinced me that when I wake up at 3 am, don’t focus on old mistakes. Think about the current issues, and the future.

Thanks Brooke and Rachel.

PS –  No mistakes… Well, not sure about politicians… (grin)

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Five Radio Advertising Mistakes to Avoid

radio-advertising-mistakes-artdecodudeMuch of the gloss has gone from radio as a marketing medium. Push button radios make the ability to surf stations instantly and easy. Young people tend to surf around looking for a song they like, and switch stations when the ads come on. Radio stations advertising commercial-free periods are conditioning listeners to look for stations with no advertising. Advertising revenue has dropped 3.5% in the last 12 months alone in metropolitan Australia.

There is no doubt that radio is still a very effective advertising medium. Radio advertising reaches a huge audience every day. Each morning it is claimed 80% of people listen to the radio, and listen for an average of 146 minutes a day. It is one of the cheapest mass media options available. Many small businesses are tempted to begin their media campaign with radio spots.

Don’t Make These Mistakes

 

1) The wrong station

Radio stations target specific demographics or audiences. Ask yourself, who is your target audience. Their age and social position will give you some indication of the right radio stations to approach.

Contact the stations and ask for up to date information on their listeners. They are constantly monitoring their audience and know who is listening. Then think about your target market. Age and Sex are easy to ascertain, but their social status and attitudes are another story.

For example talk-back radio stations attract audiences over 50, but their attitudes will differ from people who listen to an “easy Listening” station, or a station playing hits of the sixties and seventies. If you are a Lexus dealership you want to target a different audience than a club advertising a Debbie Harry concert.

2) The wrong time

Once again look at your target market. Will they be at home or at school? Are they the type of person who will listen to the radio at work? Pass any building site, hairdresser, workshop or factory and there will be radios going. The average accountant will be less likely to be listening to talk-back radio while working, but he may be listening to the easy-listening stations.

Drive time is the most listened to period of the day, and also the most expensive. But if you are targeting housewives, that may not be the best time.

3) The wrong frequency

radio-advertising-mistakes-don-fulanoSmall businesses never have enough money for everything, and advertising is just one of those expenses. The Station rep or account manager will want to sell you a package offer, perhaps 25 spots. A common mistake on the part of the advertiser is trying to get the most out of the package by spreading those ad spots out.

Research shows that we are bombarded with anywhere from 500 to 1,700 commercial messages every day. We cannot remember them all, our brain filters them out.

The way to break through that filter is repetition. You must tell the listener your message over and over. And it needs to be the SAME listener over and over. But you can only afford 25 spots. So what do you do?

The station will want to spread your spots across the day and the month. To be effective you need to repeat the commercial to the same people. So do some negotiation with the sales rep. Instead of 30 spots across the month, spread them across three or five days. Negotiate to have them repeated in the same “daypart” or time of day. We are creatures of habit. We drive to work at the same time every day. We drive home at the same time every day. If you play your ads in morning and evening drive-time, most people will not hear both ads. They will hear half of them Remember, repetition is the key. Repetition is the key.

If 60,000 people hear your ad once, you have wasted your money, if 30,00 hear it twice, almost the same. if 5,000 people hear your ad 5 times it will penetrate and you should see results.

4) Too many stations at once

The same principle applies to using multiple radio stations. If you spread your advertising budget across multiple stations you will once again dilute the message by not reaching people often enough. Most people listen to the same station most of the time.

As a child I sat in front of the radio waiting for my favorite show to start at 5pm. The days when people switched from station to station to listen to specific persons or shows are long gone. Now, that is reserved for TV shows. we stay largely with one or two stations. Pick the best station for your target audience, and own it as much as funds allow.

5) Too much information

Radio is good for promoting a single thought. Save your radio advertising dollars until you have something newsworthy.

Advertise a sale, a special, the arrival of a new product range, and end of season sellout or a specific event. The follow up with a simple contact point. The address of the sale, The number to order tickets, or an easy to remember web site.
Keep the message simple, repetitive and memorable, and you will get good results.

Please let me know your experiences with radio advertising.

 

Images by ArtDecoDude and Don Fulano

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Why Telstra Sucks – A Lesson in Poor Service

Telstra has gone from one of the most respected entities in Australia to a joke among it customers. Here is one reason why.

 

TelstraIt is a truism that good service is good marketing. Certainly it is easier and cheaper to keep an existing customer that it is to get a new one. Smart managers know this at put a lot of effort into retaining their existing customers.

 The last twelve months have seen me go from a very long term Telstra customer into a very disgruntled ex-customer.

This saga began when my business partner, who also is my son, was facing surgery and a protracted hospital stay. He had formerly worked from the office, and had not had a mobile phone. I use the mobile phone diffidently, usually to allow people to contact me, rather than me calling out. So the business had a low cost business plan with two mobiles sharing one data plan. It was economical and activated it in 2009.

So in October 2012 I went into a Telstra shop to activate a third phone.

Enter the clowns…

Our business plan was no longer available, to add a new phone we would have to move to a plan that was 20% more expensive. That was a shame, but not a deal breaker. I had an existing handset, and simply wanted a SIM and a connection to our business plan that allowed us to call between phones.

For some reason that was never explained, the phone first had to be activated with a 10$ pay as you go SIM. This was explained after the SIM was installed. This was annoying, because I already have three unused $10 PAYG SIMs in my desk drawer.

I waited for two hours while repeated calls where made, forms filled out and signed, whispered consultations and trips into the back room, and more calls. I left to get back to work, and returned the next day for another two hours. Just before the store closed I was assured they would get everything working the next day, and call me if there where problems. The phone was working, but I had data turned off until I was sure it was on a data plan. Given Telstra’s outrageous charges for casual data I was not taking risks.

All seemed well, the next phone bill looked about what I had expected. I paid it.

This is not my account number!

Then on the 11th of December I got a notice that my mobile phone account was in arrears. It was a account number I did not recognise. The Telstra shop had created a new account for my third mobile phone. Calls between it and the other two business phones where being charged and full rates. And a data pack had been added each month. In the meantime my existing phones had been moved to a more expensive plan, and both phones now had data packs, even though one handset did not have data capability. My mobile phone charges had gone up more that 300%.

Between 11 December 2012 and May 2013 I spent over eight hours on the phone over multiple calls trying to rectify the problem. The second account was cancelled, but I still had to pay the three months charges including multiple $15 data packs that had never been touched. My two existing phones where now being billed at almost three times the rate I had paid previously. All told the three phones where costing five times as much as the two had. And the Testra support lines could do nothing but promise it would be fixed NEXT month, just pay this bill, it will be fixed next time. It never was. 

They never missed sending a bill on time, though!

At the end of May, in total frustration, I moved to another carrier, and Telstra promptly billed me $344 for exiting my contracts early. I had been a mobile customer since the days of analog phones, my first being a Motorola brick that would just fit in a briefcase without bending the aerial.

I had been on a Telstra business plan for more than five years. But I was billed for early termination of my contract because Telstra had forced me to move to another plan so I could add my third phone.

Another 45 minute phone call got that termination fee halved. and I decided $172.02 was a small price to pay for finally being free of the worst customer service experience I have ever been through.

It was too much to hope for… When the SIM cards arrived from our new carrier, one phone demanded an unlock code. This was a handset I had bought outright from a Telstra shop more than two years before. I did not know it was network locked, because I was using it on the Telstra network.

Once again I went back to Telstra phone support. A 15 minute call gave me the assurance that I would have an unlock code within five working days. A week later I called again, and got the same assurance, and again a week later. On the fifth attempt I was a little more forceful. My problem was escalated to a supervisor, and I would get a call back within one hour.

Fortunately, I have a drawer full of old feature phones, and we pressed one back into service to keep us working. Because once again, nothing happened.

I called back in another week. I got the same routine. “Sorry sir, it is a priority, we will call back before close of business”.

$15 and 5 minutes accomplished what Telstra could not do in six weeks

The next day I  Googled unlocking Telstra handsets and in five minutes had payed $15 via Paypal to an individual in Australia. I thought the money might just disappear, but 30 minutes later I had the unlock code, instructions, and a phone number I could call if I had problems. within 10 minutes the phone was working again.

Something that Telstra should have done free, and had been promising for more than six weeks was done in 30 minutes for $15.

Like the previous fees, I considered it money well spent. I am now totally free of the bloated and inept Telstra. The total cost of getting that extra handset working ran to $480.42 above what I should have been charged. and when it was finally working with three phones on one light usage business plan it was costing 2.5 times as much as I am paying on my new carrier. And I am enjoying  four times as much data per month.  

Goodbye Telstra. Do something about your customer service or you will find yourself going the way of the dinosaurs. Too slow and stupid to respond to a changing world of social media and fast responding competition.

Photo Credit: Indigo Skies Photography via Compfight cc

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Don’t Make This Social Media Marketing Mistake

Social Media Marketing – DON’T Send  Your Customers to Mark Zuckerberg

More and More, I see marketing campaigns sending customers to Social Media web sites.

Don’t do that! Really. Stop it now! The visitor is interested enough in you or your product to read a web page, blog post, tweet and look for more information. Instead of sending them to your  web page, you are directing them to a site you do not and cannot control.

Bloggers are doing the same with Follow us on Twitter and Find us on Facebook buttons. A visitor has come to your site, hopefully to read your content and perhaps buy your products, and you then send them to Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg thanks you. Your customer has now become his. In the Internet age we all have the attention span of goldfish. Once your prospect hits Facebook they may follow you, but they may never actually engage you. It may be days or months before they return to your web site.

Don’t Send People to a Place You Do Not Control

“Ahh”, you say, “but we have build a GREAT site on Facebook and are getting thousands of Likes”. Perhaps you are, but what real engagement are you getting, and how much control do you have?

Many businesses have used a standard Facebook account and use it a business page. A Group has some advantages, but today Facebook is pushing everyone towards Fan Pages. Many businesses have fallen foul of Facebook’s ever changing rules and had there site taken down. See the account by Ars Technica. Some have had the page taken over by hackers or ex-employees who have changed passwords and locked the business out of it’s own site. And many people will use comments on a popular Fan Page as a platform for their own purposes.

Facebook Changes Again

At the end of March 2012 Facebook is changing the rules about pages again. Fan pages, or Facebook pages are now being brought into line with the normal user page. The look is changing. Here is the facebook page of one business before:

This is how the Easy Luchbox page looked on Facebook

 

And After:

 

easy lunchbox facebook page now

Some businesses have spent $50,000 (and perhaps more) getting pages like this designed. Now much of that work will be thrown away.

 

McDonalds Australia. A Big Marketing Campaign pointing to Facebook

McDonalds Australia have been running an advertising campaign featuring their Facebook page. Their web site ( it doesn’t work for me most of the time, I have Flash disabled) also has a link to this page. I tried clicking on the link to Facebook and got a rather disturbing pop-up.

Eventually I accepted the caution and when to the McDonalds Facebook page. The advertising campaign seems to have worked. They Have 285,580 persons who like their page.  There was a reward for doing liking the site. Of those 277,965 have actually visited the site, but only 13,933 are Talking About the page.

This page will, of course change within the next week or so…

Be prepared for Damage Control

A quick browse through the comments on various posts indicate that many of the comments are less than flattering.

Comment on McDonalds Facebook Page
More less that flattering comments

 

I wonder if I commented on the violent bout of food poisoning that almost put me in hospital after eating a McDonalds, would it be deleted? Would it help their marketing?

Deleting comments because they do not meet your approval is a dangerous move. People do not like to be censored.

Keep your traffic at Home, Mark Zuckerberg has enough. Remember, Facebook is not there to help your marketing effort. Their goal is to get your customers engaged, gather information and target someone else’s advertising at them

A far better use for the precious seconds of their time someone has given you would be to direct them to you own web site. Preferably a custom landing page that has been designed to call them to action. Sign up for a news letter, subscribe to a feed or make a purchase.

Use Facebook and Twitter for Inbound Marketing

Facebook and Twitter have a very real place in marketing, but it is in the other direction. Don’t send people there. Use Tweets or posts to encourage people who find you on those sites to follow you because you point them to interesting content. If that content is on your web site, so much the better. The main thing is to give them something worth reading, commenting on or re-tweeting. Then they will bring their friends to you.

So when that Social Marketing Guru comes knocking, say “No, thank you, I would like to send my potential clients where I can control the message.”

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Finally a Captcha With a Message

Killing two birds with one Captcha

While following a link from Google News to The Hindu Newspaper I found a Captcha that does more than make you prove you are not a Bot. It makes you think.

 

Captcha with a conscience
Captcha with a conscience

Not only is the graphic… well… graphic, it is a social message that will be repeated and reinforced.

And it is cost effective from the advertising point of view. This is a perfect example of lateral thinking.

Getting people to prove that they are humans and not bots is a thankless task, and annoying to the users. I take my hat off to NLPCaptcha,  the company that thought this one up.

And here is another example.

 

A visit to the NLPCatcha web site shows the application of this technology for advertisers and marketers.

social-captchaThe Captchas I saw on the Hindu web site where social in nature, but advertisers can use these Captchas. They come with some interesting benefits.

  • Unlike banner ads, they must be focused on and interacted with.
  • There is a foolproof way of counting views.
  • It is a necessary security tool, but can provide a revenue stream for the web site.
  • The user knows they need to interact and read the Captcha, so they do not resent the time spent. The advertiser gets guaranteed attention.
  • Better user experience compared to the hated popups, and ignored banners.

This idea is a win-win situation for visitors, advertisers and web site owners.

There may be a down side, of course. Your message is being associated with an annoyance. But I think most users understand the need for verification  And they are easier to use that the ones that require you to squint at blurry and twisted words!

 

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Lessons From A Master Copywriter

There is a very good discussion of an excellent advertising campaign by Tom Albrigton at ABC Copywriting.

cat-poster-rt-2My only added comment would relate to the Medium used. A HAND WRITTEN poster.  Marshall McLuhan said “The medium is the message” meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. The simple hand written poster has a greater impact that a professional looking poster would.

The the person who wrote this poster has a problem that is common, and posters are a common way of appealing for help. Recently a large area of Launceston was papered with hundreds of  laminated, professional looking colour posters about a lost or stolen dog, and offering a $5000 reward.

This poster is, for me, more effective. It is not just the message, that is discussed in detail in this post. The format, or medium contributes a powerful message itself.

Update: Tom advises that Merlin has been safely returned to his owner – sorry cats don’t have owners, they have STAFF.

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Not all Marketers are in the Marketing Department

 

A Big Opportunity

A Workstation - Courtesy Wilson Afonso
A Workstation – Courtesy Wilson Afonso

Some years ago I worked for a computer company that was (at that time) the sixth largest computer company in the world. We had just won a contract to supply 22,000 color computer work-stations to one of the biggest government departments in Australia. This was pre-Internet, and almost pre-PC. Microsoft was selling MS/DOS (probably 2.2) and a good computer had one floppy- disk and a 10Mb  hard-disk.

Our sales department had made some foolish compromises to win the contract, one being free training. Training is one area that companies like ours actually made money in, and it had been given away. We needed a smooth transition to the new equipment.

A Big Problem

Then the Union got involved. The keyboards for the new terminals where too stiff. Staff would get RSI (repetitive strain injury) from using the new, stiff keyboards. The keyboards had to be modified.

The keyboards were a new type, much like the typical computer keyboard today. They had extra dedicated function keys, but were similar in design to the keyboard you probably have in front of you now. Key pressure was controlled by a spring under every key. changing the key pressure required replacing the springs in 22,000 workstations, 2.64 million springs.

The company was fighting for it’s life. The government department wanted its terminals installed, and the Union (like most Unions) would not be moved. We had a meeting of all parties to try and resolve the issue.

The Union representatives sat and typed. Sorry, too hard on the hands, we need a solution. The three parties went to and fro for an hour with no solution. We were looking at the biggest financial disaster in the company’s history.

Then the service technician, who was on hand to make sure there where no problems with the terminal during the meeting stepped up and offered to provide a solution.

He sat and made a couple of changes and the stepped back saying “that should do it, but I can go a bit further”. The Union rep sat and typed. Then she called in her number two, who also sat and typed for a minute or two. They agreed it needed a little more work. The technician went back to the terminal, unruffled, and made another change.

This time the Union reps where unanimous, the changes where acceptable. Crisis averted. We left the meeting relieved but puzzled. What had our tech. done?

A lateral Solution

He admitted that he had simply lowered the volume of the click that was produced through the terminal speaker to make up for the lack of a physical click by these new keyboards. It had made no difference to the feel of the keyboard, the effect was purely psychological. Nonetheless, the workstations went into service and lived a long life.

A sudden piece of lateral thinking had changed a potential disaster into a victory. And that thinking had not come from the sales department or management, it had come from a field technician with an idea.

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How to Eliminate SPAM Forever!

I am sure that heading caught your attention. It is possible to eliminate spam from your in-box quite easily. A nice side effect is that you also get a permanent, searchable archive of all incoming and outgoing e-mail. You don’t need to change your e-mail address and this works with almost any e-mail server. It also gives you the ability to access your e-mail from any computer, anywhere.

And it is quite free.

Use Google Mail (Gmail) as your filter. Gmail has best filter I have ever seen. Gmail uses computer software, of course, but the real secret is the 80 million pairs of eyes that use Gmail. The users. If you have spam filtering software on your email client, It has to be trained by you. Each time you mark email as spam, the system looks for similar messages. With Gmail, when you mark a message as spam, Google flags that e-mail across the whole system. I assume they wait for a few hundred or thousand people to identify that message as really spam, but then it gets moved into everyone’s spam folder. There is a video by Google here.

The result is that I probably see a piece of spam in my in-box about once every two weeks. I am happy to mark it as spam and contribute to keeping the system clean. There are also no false positives. I have never found a message I want in my spam folder.


So how do you do it?

You must create a new Google Mail account. Just go to Google Mail and open a new account (or use an existing one, of course). Just follow the prompts.

Then either have your e-mail forwarded to your new Gmail address, or have it collected.

Forward your e-mail to Google mail.

If you have control over your mail server, re-directing is easy. My mail server has a Smartermail web interface. I simply set it to re-direct my mail and then delete them.



Or, have Google mail collect it for you.

If you cannot access your mail settings, Gmail can collect you mail using POP, the same protocol that your mail client (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc) uses to download mail. Go into the settings tab of gmail, then Accounts, and click on “Add a mail account you own” in the “Get mail from other accounts” section. Step trhough the form, supplying the email address, the user name, password, POP server details. This information is the same as you use to download mail to your e-mail client. Just look in your account settings.


If you have more than one e-mail account, you can have g-mail label each incoming message with the name of your e-mail account.

Now your e-mail is being sent to Gmail. Send some mail to yourself to test that it is working. Gmail has a brilliant interface, and many people just stop at this point and use the gmail interface for all their mail needs.

Make outgoing (sent) mail look like it is coming from your e-mail address.

The next step is to tell Gmail to send mail showing your real e-mail address. This is done from the settings page again.

In settings > Accounts click on “Add another e-mail address you own” Enter your name, and your e-mail address.

To activate this option, Google will sent an e-mail and you must reply to it, to prove you actually own that email address. You can then set that address as your default, and all mail sent will show your actual e-mail address.

But what if I want to use Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, etc?

Go to the Gmail accounts setting again. Click on the “Forwarding & POP/IMAP” tab. In POP download, click on the “Enable Pop for mail that arrives from now on” button, and save.

Then Go to your e-mail client, and set it to point at Gmail.

This is the last step.

Item 3 on the page described above has links to specific instructions for most e-mail clients.


Go into the account settings in your e-mail client, and change the settings to download your e-mail from Google mail following the instructions provided .

That’s all folks!

The benefits include having a Gmail interface accessible from any computer. You keep your official or professional e-mail address and you now have a backup of your e-mail.

An added benefit is that if you use Google desktop, it can search and index all your mail on the Gmail server. This gives very fast search and indexing of all your mail.

Log into Gmail occasionally and have a look in the spam folder. Eventually you will give up, and Google will delete all spam more than a month old automatically.

Enjoy! – Phil Stephens

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