Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Only Constant is Change...

Last week I took a class on Organizational Change Management at Southern Methodist University. It was a good class, with a great professor and a very aggressive agenda. Know what I learned? It’s about the people!

Organizations love to talk about how their human resources are their biggest asset, blah, blah, blah. But most organizations want to focus only on the positives: talent, teamwork, and training. What I learned about change management was that successful change initiatives differ from unsuccessful ones because they deal with all the “messy” people issues: fears, insecurities, hurt feelings, defeats.

Successful change management means identifying who the organizational “losers” are, whether those losses are real or imagined, individuals or teams, and helping them come to terms with those feelings.

Successful change management means helping those who have gained from the change to transition into new roles, while supporting their peers, who may be hurting.

And finally, successful change management means planning for and communication how things will work in the morass between the way things used to be and the new world order, before the old culture has been fully retired and the new culture has been indoctrinated. Successful change management means knowing that people and processes will go off the rails in times of stress, and preparing for it, not hoping that everyone just figures it out.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Some Creative Inspiration

Every self-respecting marketing person would dress up like a hippie for the sake of a marketing promotion, right?

Wait. Don’t answer that. Let me explain…

About three months ago my fellow FaceTime marketing colleagues and I came up with a video idea to promote the company’s no URL filtering fees promotion. We staged a take-off on Animal Planet where we observed a near extinct species: the URL filtering sales guy.

Response was great, really positive; people liked seeing a technology company injecting humor into things. We spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., then to build on the momentum we turned that one idea into a series we call the Larissa and Sarah Show, where my UK-based marketing cohort Sarah Carter and I star as roving reporters for FaceTime's Web Security Channel bringing viewers the latest developments and news in the world of Web security, compliance and management.

We’ve interviewed President Obama, we’ve taken a road trip to observe an IT manager…then last month we took it live, to the RSA Conference in San Francisco. Three and a half days of back to back Larissa and Sarah Shows in a 20x20 booth – I can still give the presentation in my sleep! And we combined it with an old-fashioned 60’s-style protest against high-priced URL filtering fees. It was a marketer’s dream – full creative freedom to carry an idea all the way through. We had tie-dye, we had protest signs, we had a protest singer….we got our message across, and we made it memorable!

Our presence at RSA landed us some press and blog coverage - NetworkWorld even named FaceTime a security company to follow on Twitter, specifically calling out the Larissa and Sarah Show videos as quirky (which we took as a compliment:-)). The best part? The prospects liked it - our sales people are hearing things like ‘you guys had the best booth at RSA!’ You have to agree it’s much easier to begin a sales conversation with that kind of opener.

I thought I’d share our fun marketing idea for some inspiration. It worked for our company – the humor, the slight way we’re making fun of ourselves instead of pointing to the competition – and we kept it personal. Sarah and I are real people. Real people who don’t mind crouching under a tree in a parking lot.:)

Camo and tie-dye might not be your thing, but there’s a unique idea out there for your company, too. What is it?


It was a family get together a few years ago, and in my absence my family began to speculate if I was going to show up. Some said, "Probably." Others didn't think so. Then my aunt chimed in, "He'll be here." Everyone turned and looked at my aunt because of her matter-of-fact tone. My grandmother said, "How do you know that?"
My aunt replied, "Because he said he would - Not only that... he will be on time!"

That was that, and the conversation shifted to other matters and preparing the food. The lunch was set to begin at 1:00 and at 12:57 there was no sign of me, yet the look on my aunt's face was as relaxed as it could be (she has nerves of steel - not a good idea to play poker with her).
Then at 12:58 the door knob began to turn and I walked through the door. As soon I stepped foot in the house, my aunt threw up her arms as if to signal the game-winning field goal and said, "What did I tell ya?!" My aunt has never been above gloating and savors every opportunity.

I soon realized her happiness was more than simply me joining them for lunch. That reaction from my aunt caused me to think that day. It forced me to pause and realize how valuable it is in life and business for others to trust what you say and feel comfortable depending upon you. It is priceless when others are 100% confident that you will follow through on your word.

A few weeks ago, I read this story in an eZine I receive from memory expert Ron White. It made me think about the value keeping your word really holds. In today's world where it seems like all we hear about is one corrupt CEO after another, someone who has built a solid reputation on integrity is rare. The dollar investment of keeping your word costs little, but the return on that investment is immeasurable. A reputation of honesty will take you further than any marketing dollar can ever get you, but put them together and you just can't lose.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Hooray for the Good, Old-Fashioned Library!

Recently, I was at Collin College in Plano, Texas for a Business Management and Marketing Advisory Board meeting. It was brought up that there was an 18-20% increase of library usage in the state and lines of people were waiting to get in every morning. What has caused this new trend? Free internet. With the economy being what it is, people are heading to the library to take advantage of the free computer/internet usage, browse the books and, I suspect, to just be around other people. And many people aren't aware that free computers and internet are available at their public libraries. The library is still the hub of information - just a different, more technological kind.

After not having been in a library since my college days, I strolled in to my local branch for some tax forms earlier this year. Other places had run out, but at the library, there they were - plentiful and free! It occurred to me that being in a library was a very different experience than, say, going to Starbucks. In the years since college, I've gotten my books from Barnes & Noble or Half Price Books. But those places don't have that comforting, familiar feel that libraries have.

I’m curious how many of you out there have visited your local library lately? I plan to be back again soon!