Friday, 29 January 2010

I'm A Customer....Get Me Out of Here!

I just returned home from a two week trip to London and Paris. We started and ended in London, and took the EuroStar train, the “chunnel”, to Paris midway through our trip.

Paris in January was cold but fantastic. It was definitely low season for tourists: there were no crowds at the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre was not packed. The Champs-Élysées was busy but not swarming, perfect for a slow stroll on a winter night. The EuroStar train was a delightful way to travel. Even the churlish behavior that Parisians are often known for was in short supply.

Really, the only boorish behavior we encountered was at the Gare du Nord, the central train station, as we prepared to board the EuroStar for our trip back to London.

Attempting to buy sandwiches to carry on the train, My husband and I stopped at a small café in the train station just outside the EuroStar gates and found a rather rude lout who clearly was offended that we were not fluent in French.

We asked if he had any vegetarian sandwiches and he said no. After perusing his sandwich selection thoroughly, I pointed to a cheese sandwich and asked him it contained meat. “Non”, was his answer.

Okay, that could be an honest mistake. He may have thought I was asking for a sandwich that included no animal products whatsoever. But as our conversation continued, he seemed to delight in what appeared to be deliberate misunderstanding of whatever we were asking for, invariably resulting in him selling us more than what we wanted - one coffee became two, one soft drink became three, and so one.

And he wasn’t nice about it. It wasn’t some charming little exchange where everyone laughs and says “Vive la Difference” and goes on about their merry way. He was dour and unfriendly.

The more I thought about it, the more irritated I got. If you are adamant about not wanting to speak English, why on earth would you open your shop at the gate to the EuroStar train, which caters to a large English-speaking population? Surely there were locations all over the main train station where he could have set up shop that wouldn’t have put him squarely in the path of people traveling to a non-French speaking country.

And it really made me think about how often businesses find they are making a profit from a product or service line that they don’t really want to be delivering. It’s not the offering we want to be focusing on, but it’s the one that makes the most profit. So we do it. But are we doing it with a smile? Or, like this fellow in Paris, do we resent the very transactions that make us the most money? If what we are selling isn’t what we want to be selling, is it obvious to our customers? Are we blaming our customers for shortcomings in our product mix or marketing strategy?

Just something to think about, as I did on a two hour train ride, eating a sandwich I didn’t want to buy from a man who didn’t want to sell it to me.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Tweeting your way to tradeshow buzz

The company I work for is an IBM business partner so we make the annual trek to Lotusphere - the all-things-Lotus, "yellow is the new black" conference and tradeshow hosted in Orlando, Florida. This year, however, we didn’t just come by ourselves. We took everyone else with us using social media.

We created a designated Twitter ID for our presence at the show (@LotusFaceTime) and tweeted conference highlights, FaceTime/IBM news, and our comings and goings at the show, including the people we’ve seen - and those who have seen us – we couldn’t be missed in fluorescent yellow glasses! (We called them a free social visibility tool.) We kicked off our get-noticed mission by wearing the fluorescent eye wear and accompanying blinking t-shirts to the event’s evening welcome reception, complete with capturing photos of folks with our Twitter ID or theirs. Needless to say, we stood out, in a good way.

It’s been great fun engaging with our Twitter followers, converting those online conversations into face-to-face meetings – and gaining lots of new followers who we’ll continue to engage with after the show. Plus, all the buzz helped spread the word about the company and drove traffic to the booth. We even had someone from IBM come by to tell us he showed up to a customer meeting only to see everyone walk in wearing our yellow glasses! And of course we did traditional pre-event email marketing, too – proven here by someone who printed out our email and brought it with him to the show. (I call that a personal marketing win.)

I think most all marketers today are being challenged with how to integrate social media into marketing strategy and campaigns. Maybe these ideas can help you get started with how to do that for your company. Whether or not it includes fluorescent eye wear is completely up to you.

Friday, 15 January 2010

You can do it! Just breathe

Monday was my first day of classes at Texas Christian University. It was a pretty normal day with professors handing out schedules for the semester and making the students aware of what was expected of us in the weeks to come. Not a big deal, right? Wrong! I walked into one class and the professor starts throwing out words that I didn't fully understand and talking about types and amounts of work that were expected. Everything in me was screaming "you are not capable of this!" I got very scared, very fast! Once I had the thought that I couldn’t do it, I didn’t really hear anything the professor said after that. Fear took over my perspective. I couldn’t see the trees for the forest, if you will, the forest being my fear and doubts and the trees being what was truly demanded and my actual capabilities.

How many times does this happen when a client hands you a new project? Maybe you fear that you are not going to be able to measure up to their expectations. It could be a situation in your personal life where you have a great idea but are too fearful that you will not be able to succeed. Once we let fear take the drivers seat, we lose any chance of seeing reality with any perspective. Everything you see is colored by that fear. I was ready to drop this class and figure out a new option that would be easier, safer, something that I felt more sure of being able to accomplish, but a good friend of mine suggested that I give it one more shot and see what it was really about. She told me to take a step back and simply breathe. So that is what I did. I took a deep breath and walked back into that classroom. What I found was not nearly as scary as I remember thinking. Once I removed the fear I was battling, I was able to see more clearly.

Regardless of whether it's business or personal, once you let fear tell you that you are not capable, you won’t be. The power of belief is unbelievable! So I would say to you: “Take a step back and simply breathe.” Once you have done this, take another look before you walk away defeated because chances are you really can do it.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

BrightBlue Marketing Recommends

We recommend starting your year writing your personal and professional company objectives. We’ve recently updated our business plan with goals around staying innovative, financially sound, client-friendly and - most importantly - having the best of the best team.

Why have goals? It’s easier and more obtainable to grow when you have a vision and concrete numbers to strive for. You aren’t flailing about trying to land business; you have a direction!

If you need a template for your business plan, let us know. Contact us at

Thursday, 7 January 2010

What's YOUR Word?

Happy New Year everyone!

I just finished a book on my 2010 reading list called Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert. She wrote about a friend’s notion that every city has a word associated with it, and every person has a word that best describes what they are all about. Which got me thinking... I would go a step further and say that every company needs a word, too.

It’s really a basic principle of branding; picking that theme/image/personality and tying everything you do back to that idea. We do something similar with our clients when identifying their voice. We then use that voice when creating all marketing materials. For example, could words for you or your company be “curious,” “professional,” “honest,” “friendly,” or maybe “Persistent?” Or maybe a noun better describes you? “Food,” “Love,” “Passion,” “Workaholic,” “Adventure.”

It’s hard to narrow it down to one word, isn’t it? But I challenge you to do it and then build on that one word to create your 2010 brand.

What’s our word you ask? Bright! As in Bright, Creative, Happy, Shiny, Smart, Positive and BrightBlue!

Have a great year!