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    Why My Biggest Year in Sales Wasn’t My Most Lucrative

    My biggest year in sales was 1989. I was 9 years-old. My most lucrative year in sales didn’t come until 16 years later. I pounded the pavement week after week pedaling my wares, Girl Scout Cookies. Going into that cookie season I wasn’t particularly psyched. It was cold. Even at 9 I didn’t really care about the spiffs offered. What got me motivated? My Dad; he had a plan. It was a good plan. It was a plan that resulted in a cookie sales record. Here are 10 tactics that lead to a record sales year.

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    Does Your Website Leverage SPACE ? ; Science, Play, Art, Creativity, and Exploration

    People visit your website because they’re seeking information. But people choose to stay on a website because they discover there’s more to learn. Adults, like kids, are naturally curious. Anything developed for a child, be it a toy, show, or establishment, is designed to harness that creativity. Why is it we assume adults are myopic when approaching self-education? Why is a company’s central information repository, a website, designed without imagination, foresight, or intellectual insight?

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    For Those Professionals Longing for the Carefree Summer Days of Childhood

    My first summer after graduation was a bummer. It was my first reality check. Outside my office window I’d hear kids laughing at a nearby pool. I’d slump under the artificial light of the office. Remember how awesome the last day of school was? That was the best day of the year. We don’t get that experience anymore. Lazy mornings, running yourself ragged until you were a sweaty dirty mess, and then practically falling asleep at the dinner table from exhaustion. Eventually the envy of carefree summer days faded.

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    Then I had kids.

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    Is Your Business Story Mother Goose or Grimm?

    Over coffee with a friend we chatted about life…. actually about the expectations we had of our lives and how they compared to reality. My friend made a comparison to Mother Goose stories. You enter phases of your life with a belief that you’ll follow a nursery rhyme storybook path. Thanks a lot Disney! Those expectations are only exacerbated by the “Facebook Effect” where everyone lives a life of carefully structured posts and perfectly posed photographs demonstrating the perfection of family, friends, and jobs.

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    As I sipped my coffee and nodded in agreement I thought to myself, are our lives more Mother Goose or Grimm?

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    Analytics Worth Measuring; My Dad Would Be Proud

    As a kid I dreaded math homework. I’d often approach my Dad for help and his response was always “let me take a look at it for a few minutes”. I’d sigh, knowing that this wouldn’t be a short assignment. That’s what happens when your father studied economics in college simply because he thought it was “fun”. He’d brush up on my math homework and then proceed to delve into math theory. I didn’t care about the “why” behind the numbers, I just wanted to know how to the solve the problem. But he taught me a valuable lesson (one of many). In order to understand how to do something, you must first understand the why.

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    Are You A Leader, Or Just A Grenade Thrower?

    You know how kids will beg and plead for a new pet? They’ll promise to care for it, feed it, walk it … nothing but empty promises. You give in, agree, and welcome this new animal into your house. Before too long, the kids have disappeared and you’re left to literally clean up the crap. Oh, and by this point you’ve developed an emotional bond with the animal so you can’t just get rid of it.

    I believe, in someways, this equates to the promise of new…

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    Why My Biggest Year in Sales Wasn’t My Most Lucrative

    My biggest year in sales was 1989. I was 9 years-old. My most lucrative year in sales didn’t come until 16 years later. I pounded the pavement week after week pedaling my wares, Girl Scout Cookies. Going into that cookie season I wasn’t particularly psyched. It was cold. Even at 9 I didn’t really care about the spiffs offered. What got me motivated? My Dad; he had a plan. It was a good plan. It was a plan that resulted in a cookie sales record.

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    Below are 10 tactics that lead to a record sales year.

    1. Have a segmented and focused effort. I worked off of a map targeting the neighborhoods to pursue. I knew, everyday, who I was going to approach. And that map didn’t include my neighborhood. I sold in the Air Force Base housing occupied by single officers and Wright State University’s off-campus housing.

    2. Timing is everything. Sure, you can catch people at dinnertime but I found a more optimum time for cookie sales. The winter of 1989 was the same season the Bengals won the play-offs and reached the Superbowl. Selling on football Sundays was a piece of cake.

    3. Surround yourself with people that know more than you. At the age of 9 and with little sales experience I would’ve failed had I gone it alone. My Dad designed our sales strategy and my Parents drove me through the neighborhoods. I also had a troop of Girl Scouts encouraging me.

    4. Have a product that people want. Yes, selling cookies is often easier than selling a complex software product. But if you know how to position your product as a delicious and appetite-satisfying solution to their hunger, it’s easier to sell.

    5. Penetrate a market others are avoiding. As mentioned in the segmentation section, I avoided areas where I knew other Scouts would be selling. Everyone was trolling my neighborhood and of course booths were set-up at the supermarkets. I focused on the areas where there were no other children, but there was still a desire for what I was selling.

    6. Saturate the market. I didn’t hit up one apartment complex and move on. I approached every apartment in every complex in the area. Until you’ve reached a yes/no resolution throughout the entire market, don’t write it off.

    7. Work your network. Before social selling became the effective tactic it is now, I relied on my network. Of course, at the time my network consisted of family members scattered across the US. My network also worked their network chain and gathered orders in their offices.

    8. Move beyond the “No”. I overcame the literal doors closed in my face. As many “yes” answers I heard, I had just as many (if not more) “nos”. As a kid it was hard the first few times but I got over it. Process the “no” and move on.

    9. Back yourself with a trusted brand. Selling is much easier when you have a strong trusted brand behind you. People know and trust the Girl Scouts. They recognize the value in the product and trust where there money is going.

    10. Put forth the effort, it will pay off. I followed all the clichés. I planned the work and worked the planned. I gathered the low hanging fruit. I carried the ball across the goal line. I was persistent, worked harder, worked smarter, and sold a s!@t ton of cookies.

    I closed out the ’89 cookie season with a record number of boxes ordered. I didn’t make a profit that year but I certainly learned skills that allowed me to cash in on commissions later in life.

    Does Your Website Leverage SPACE ? ; Science, Play, Art, Creativity, and Exploration

    I’m an admitted museum junkie. I can walk the halls of any art, history, or science museum for hours. I love to learn and museums provide an opportunity to engage with things greater than me. I want to pass this love of learning on to my kids so we visit museums when we can. They love going to the Cincinnati Children’s Museum because they can interact with the exhibits. They have a dedicated Kids’ SPACE; Science, Play, Art, Creativity, and Exploration.

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    In many ways business websites also act as a virtual museum of sorts. They house information, some that mirrors relics, and are meant to serve the purpose of education. The problem is companies don’t create sites that engage.

    People visit your website because they’re seeking information. But people choose to stay on a website because they discover there’s more to learn. Adults, like kids, are naturally curious. Anything developed for a child, be it a toy, show, or establishment, is designed to harness that creativity. Why is it we assume adults are myopic when approaching self-education? Why is a company’s central information repository, a website, designed without imagination, foresight, or intellectual insight? It’s as if we want people to leave our site. “Here’s the information you were looking for, now calls us if you’re interested in learning more”. It doesn’t work that way. We’ve all seen the stats, Gartner states that 70% of the buying process occurs before a sales rep is engaged. Don’t you want your website to compensate during 70% of that journey?

    I had a colleague who would argue during web design discussions “When was the last time you visited a site because it looks cool?” Valid question, and there is some truth to that … sorta. But when I think through the sites that keep me engaged it’s typically because they’re interactive.

    The information recall rate of individuals is 10%. Scientists have discovered that by engaging multiple senses that recall rate increases to 60%. Interactive sites are successful because they engage the senses; not just the traditional sight, feel, hear, taste, and smell. Interactive sites allow the visitors to build, create, contribute, learn, and stretch their imagination.

    Ideally, your website would be built by the customer. The challenge, of course, is everyone has a different idea of what they want. If I were to design the Zappos site it would only have stilettos and running shoes. But there will be commonality in the wants of your visitors, start with that. Engage them and build the site around their activity. Bonus points if you can build the site to respond to their activity. Provide them the ability to contribute and develop this hub of information that is meant for them.

    Indiana University engages its students in content creation. Everyday students upload proposed blogs to the University content management system, Compendium. The content director simply logs into the system, reviews and edits blogs for branding, grammar, etc and then publishes the blogs. IU generates hundreds of posts, in the voice of the student, every year, and with little work.

    Intel engages with its resellers on the web by providing the ability for resellers to pre-order products. They added an email inbox into their communications so resellers could view emails that were previously sent to them. They provided an event calendar so resellers could view when events were taking place and register their interest in joining them. They also provided a rating system for parts of the site with new products or features. This allowed resellers to vote for elements that were more relevant to them and drive the direction of the campaigns.

    Prudential set out to change how people prepare for retirement. They partnered with professors from leading universities to create The Challenge Lab, a destination where people can understand their behavioral challenges and learn how to overcome them. Through videos, experiments, expert articles and over 60 interactive pieces, the site breaks down five key challenges. It explains the science behind why we crave instant gratification. Why we put things off. Why we follow the herd. Why we misjudge risk. And what it means that we’re living longer. The Challenge Lab is a place where people who may not know anything about finance can understand something even more important: themselves.

    When evaluating your website remember to define a clear purpose, make it easy to understand, develop interactive elements, and let the customer drive the direction of the site.

    How do you engage in customers in your website development?

    For Those Professionals Longing for the Carefree Summer Days of Childhood

    My first summer after graduation was a bummer. It was my first reality check. Outside my office window I’d hear kids laughing at a nearby pool. I’d slump under the artificial light of the office. Remember how awesome the last day of school was? That was the best day of the year. We don’t get that experience anymore. Lazy mornings, running yourself ragged until you were a sweaty dirty mess, and then practically falling asleep at the dinner table from exhaustion. Eventually the envy of carefree summer days faded.

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    Then I had kids. I love how much fun they have at camp. They come home and rattle off a million exciting things they did that day. Now I don’t feel envy … not entirely. Now I have a desire to recapture those experiences. Granted, most of us can’t take 2 months off from work. However, there are ways to incorporate summer fun into your work.

    Below are 7 suggestions for doing just that.

    Take a field trip
    The best part of camp, besides no school, was taking a field trip. I was fun to break from the ordinary and see and learn new things. Why not afford yourself the same experience at work? Commit to one customer visit a week. Spend time interacting with your most valuable assets. Look into visiting some industry groups that service the space you target. Get out of town and hit-up some events this summer. Interact 2014, Inbound 2014, and Content Marketing World are all worthwhile events to attend this summer. This summer I will attend several of these events including Content Marketing World, SEAT 2014, Digital Marketing for Medical Devices, and 2014 CMO Spotlight on Healthcare & Life Sciences.

    Schedule arts & crafts
    So this was my least favorite part of camp. Weaving friendship bracelets and making leaf imprints were activities that made me cringe because they were out of my element. But that’s why they were good for me. Exercising your creative side is essential to success and balance. Take a basic design course, play around with tools like Canva, and consider switching from the written word to video for the summer. Personally, I’m considering an improv class to become more proficient and at-ease when speaking at events.

    Work it to work it
    There’s no better time to enjoy the outdoors. At camp you would swim, run, hike, play ball, and camp-out. Many of these activities can be incorporated into your day-to-day routine. Host some meetings outdoors, go for a run at lunch, or conduct team building at a local ropes course. Outdoor activity stimulates the mind and can help overcome those mental barriers. This summer I begin training for my first ultramarathon so I plan to be extra creative in my work …..

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    Make new friends
    Use this time to expand your network. Set aside time everyday this summer to engage with, and grow, your network of peers. This could include attending networking events and should certainly involve spending time on social networks. Read and engage with content, identify and reach out to influencers in your space, and get caught up on those LinkedIn recommendations you promised people. I want to deliver 1 new recommendation each week.

    Experiment with a good book
    Remember those summer reading programs hosted by the library. It usually involved a map and you would chart the books you read along the path. Sometimes there were even incentives. I have a stack of business literature that I’d like to get through this summer. Take advantage of the longer daylight hours and read outside, during your commute, or while on the beach. A few of my favorites include:
    - “Decisive
    - “Revenue Engine
    - “Running the Gauntlet
    - “The Inmates are Running the Asylum
    - “HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Change Management
    - “Nudge
    - “The Wiki Man
    - “The Accidental Creative
    - “The Greatest Words You Never Heard
    Next on my list is “The Physics of Business Growth; Mindsets, System, and Process”.

    Eat a snow cone and have a picnic
    Dine outside. Grab a blanket, a Chipotle burrito and pop-a-squat under a tree. It’s amazing what an hour outside in nature will do for your well-being. There are also snow cone trucks, like Kona Ice and Snowie,that will come to your office building. Treat your employees to some summer fun … and remember to invite me!

    Keep a summer journal
    The first week back to school always included a “What I did on my summer vacation” project. Get a jump start on that. Identify objectives for the summer and then document progress against those goals. You can track that progress through that blog you’ve been meaning to start or using tools like infographics and videos. You’ll progress in your development and learn a few new skills. I have my 6-year old doing this and I am following suit. My big summer project involves becoming more strategic with content development and more familiar with customers.

    How are you bringing traditional summer fun into your professional life?

    Is Your Business Story Mother Goose or Grimm?

    Over coffee with a friend we chatted about life…. actually about the expectations we had of our lives and how they compared to reality. My friend made a comparison to Mother Goose stories. You enter phases of your life with a belief that you’ll follow a nursery rhyme storybook path. Thanks a lot Disney! Those expectations are only exacerbated by the “Facebook Effect” where everyone lives a life of carefully structured posts and perfectly posed photographs demonstrating the perfection of family, friends, and jobs.

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    As I sipped my coffee and nodded in agreement I thought to myself, are our lives more Mother Goose or Grimm?

    Studying German in college introduced me to the Grimm Brothers which afforded me the chance to learn the origins of those well known fairy tales. I was surprised to learn that Rapunzel was knocked up, Rumpelstiltskin ripped himself in half during a fit of madness, and the Evil Queen in “Snow White” was sentenced to death by having her feet placed in burning shoes while others watched as she danced until she dropped dead.

    The Grimm brother told stories of warning that were uncensored and also controversial. But they were more impactful and memorable to those who listened to the stories.

    They are also more relatable. We associate more with the ugly and raw truth, not the unrealistic fairy tales that turn us into skeptics.

    So when it comes to the stories we tell in business, should we focus on the fairy tale, or the Grimm story?

    When I listen to businesses tell their story I appreciate the honesty and transparency of those that reveal their struggles. It’s a relief to know you’re not alone when it comes to misaligned organizational leadership, unachievable sales quotas, reduced budgets and resources, and lack of strategic direction. Those unexpected curve-balls, torturous eliminations, and fits of rage found in the Grimm stories are also found within the four walls of most businesses.

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    When telling your story, focus on reality. The journey and successes are more inspirational when the origins are relatable. It’s also good to note in your story that “Happily Ever After” is not an objective. Successful companies understand that there is no conclusion to their story, merely an ongoing process focused on incremental improvement.

    Explain the resistance you faced and how you overcame it. Define the change needed in your organization and how you implemented change management. Talk about how you selected and executed key projects with the little budget you were allocated.

    Remember, even the origins of those fairy tale Mother Goose nursery rhymes were sinister. “Baa Baa Black Sheep” is about taxation. “Three Blind Mice” tells the story of 3 conspirators burned at the stake for trying to overthrow the queen. “Ring Around the Rosie” is a song about the Black Plague.

    Even the happiest of stories started in a dark place.

    What’s your Grimm Fairy Tale?

    Analytics Worth Measuring; My Dad Would Be Proud

    As a kid I dreaded math homework. I’d often approach my Dad for help and his response was always “let me take a look at it for a few minutes”. I’d sigh, knowing that this wouldn’t be a short assignment. That’s what happens when your father studied economics in college simply because he thought it was “fun”. He’d brush up on my math homework and then proceed to delve into math theory. I didn’t care about the “why” behind the numbers, I just wanted to know how to the solve the problem. But he taught me a valuable lesson (one of many). In order to understand how to do something, you must first understand the why.

    This is certainly true when looking at business analytics. In conversations with companies across many industries there’s consistency in the struggle to find good analytical resources. A demand in the marketing space right now is finding those individuals who cannot only evaluate the marketing and sales data, but also make business recommendations based on that output.

    Beyond the Campaign
    Companies must evaluate beyond the standard campaign metrics. Click through rates and conversion rates are good, but require more analysis. Static metrics won’t tell a story or provide the breadth of information necessary to analyze for opportunity.

    You must evaluate trends. Benchmark data and identify trends in performance across both audiences and pieces of content. You must also dig into those metrics.

    For example, if you A/B test an email and email A has a click through of 8% and email B of 3% was email A the better performing email? Not necessarily. Drill down into who actually clicked through your communications. If more of your target audience (for example, Director Level and above) clicked through email B and lower level influencers clicked through email A, then I would say email B was actually more effective.

    What Makes Them Tick?
    Also take time to analyze the behavior of a contact and look for indicators around motivation, interest, and decision making. When looking at a customer’s digital body language many often see a string of activity, like this:
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    But they should be asking questions like:
    Who are they?
    Where are they?
    What are they using?
    When are they doing it?
    Why are they doing it?
    How did they do it?

    Example Metrics Tied to Business Challenges
    Even better, when developing your communication strategy, is start with the end goal in mind. Define a few key business issues that face your organization.

    1. Let’s say you have a partner channel and you want to identify which partners to allocate additional budget to. You’d want to determine Partner Revenue Potential, examine opportunity conversion, evaluate revenue performance, and understand engagement with partner focused marketing material as well as the use of marketing materials provided for use by partners.
    a. Which partners have the greatest potential to drive revenue?
    b. Which partners are generating the greatest return on investment?
    c. Where should future resources and money be allocated?

    2. Firms should understand the cost of their recruitment efforts. They should measure the effectiveness of their recruitment efforts and communications. Calculate the cost per recruit. Understand the cost of acquiring candidates and the cost of converting candidates to recruits.
    a. Is this an area where you should focus additional resources and budget?

    3. Companies should investigate trends within the regions they operate and begin to gain insight into the effectiveness of their communication outreach.
    a. Are there geographic trends you should acknowledge and use in segmented communications?
    b. Which campaigns, web pages, forms, and emails are most effective in each region?
    c. Have you A/B tested by region?
    d. How did this testing perform?
    e. Are different keywords used regionally to reach our site?
    f. Are the keywords used by region, incorporated into your outbound communications to resonate with that regional audience?

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    4. The customer experience extends beyond the direct recipients of your services. Understanding the engagement of your audiences, both external and internal, and taking steps to enhance their experiences is essential to a healthy organization.
    a. What’s the average turnover rate?
    b. Based on the exercise above, you know the cost of bringing on talent. What is the cost of retaining talent, and what revenue does the firm lose because of turnover?
    c. How does your turnover compare to industry benchmarks?

    5. Firms must identify which parts of the organization are leading, and which are lagging. Companies should identify which regions are demonstrating the greatest growth or loss. This information should guide their decisions around where to focus communications, allocate money, and recruit new sales reps. It should direct the customization and personalization of communications based on regional engagement. This data will also provide insight into revenue potential and strength by geographic location.

    6. Organizations can also begin to understand sales revenue potential. They can begin to see not only which reps are driving the most revenue, but which are driving the most referrals. Companies can identify which reps have the greatest potential to grown their book of business through referrals and existing client growth. In short, you can begin to understand which sales reps you should invest in.
    a. Where should you hire more reps (or open new offices) based on revenue activity in different geographic regions?
    b. Based on sales performance, sales retention, and regional growth/loss where should we focus efforts on recruitment as well as retention efforts?
    c. Which reps are driving the most revenue, and driving the most referrals?
    d. Which reps have the greatest potential to grown their book of business through referrals and existing client growth?
    e. Which sales reps should we invest in?
    f. What is the sales productivity score?
    g. Based on this report, which reps are driving the highest productivity and how does that correlate to revenue generated?

    What data do you analyze to think beyond the campaign?

    Are You A Leader, Or Just A Grenade Thrower?

    You know how kids will beg and plead for a new pet? They’ll promise to care for it, feed it, walk it … nothing but empty promises. You give in, agree, and welcome this new animal into your house. Before too long, the kids have disappeared and you’re left to literally clean up the crap. Oh, and by this point you’ve developed an emotional bond with the animal so you can’t just get rid of it.

    I believe, in someways, this equates to the promise of new leadership in an organization. Companies invest in, and become attached to, someone they believe will truly make a positive impact. These people boast of previous success, say all the right words, generate excitement, and paint a big picture. But, sometimes companies have invested in a grenade thrower, not a leader.

    Grenade throwers are those “big picture” people, who lack the glasses necessary to develop true vision. They’ll come into an organization, throw around some big ideas (the grenades), get everyone running, and then leave employees with nothing but shrapnel. The company is deconstructed and left to pick up the pieces.

    Grenade Thrower

    Below are 6 grenade-qualifying questions to ask yourself.

    1. Can you actually define the strategy? A leader understands that a great idea is only the beginning. Leaders will research and try to prove why their good idea could be a bad idea in order to overcome objections and uncover flaws. Leaders can also document their strategy. Grenade throwers often think of a great idea, introduce it in a meeting, and then want to begin work. Leaders map a journey to their vision, grenade throwers are scattered and inconsistent in their communications.

    2. Can you define the plan to execute the strategy? Leaders don’t need to define the project plans, but they do need a strong understanding of the time and resources required. Leaders become aware of inter-dependencies and seek council with those who know best. Grenade throwers are quick to eliminate a process or system. Because technology often creates an external appearance of simplicity, grenade throwers believe process and technology changes to be fast and uncomplicated. Grenade throwers are foolish.

    3. Are your decisions fact based or opinion based? So you believe the company needs to “re-brand”. You want new messaging, new logos, new websites, and a new sales process. A leader has determined what deliverables are required by speaking with customers, analysts, and employees. They research and understand the reasons for existing brands and processes. They analyze, consult, and engage. Grenade throwers believe that these are the easiest things to change and will result in quick wins. Grenade throwers are misguided and rely on their opinion of what is best.

    4. Are you committed? Leaders believe in their vision and will stick around, even when there are roadblocks. They are emotionally invested and understand the investment the company has made in them. Grenade throwers are out the door as soon as something better, or easier, comes along. They often fail to implement a transition plan as well. Grenade throwers create long-term destruction.

    5. Are you supporting the team, or is the team supporting you? Yes, there should be mutual support. However, your job as a leader is to enable those executing your vision to succeed. Leaders enable, grenade throwers cripple.

    How would those in your organization answer these questions? Do you work with leaders or grenade throwers?

    The Greatest Disruptor In Business, And My Unrealized Dream As A Professional Wrestler

    I remember the first time I fell in love. I was 5-years old, going on 6. I heard this swell of music, the roar of a crowd, and watched as a man dressed in a sequined cape and Speedo sunglasses made his way to the ring. I watched as this man, The “Macho Man” Randy Savage wrestled the Honkytonk Man. He climbed to the top rope, raised both hand into the air, and jumped.

    I was in love.

    Not with the man, but with the wrestling.

    Every Saturday morning I’d sit in front of the television and watch. I’d listen as Hulk Hogan told me to say my prayers and eat my vitamins. I reeled in shock when Shawn Michaels threw Martney Jannetty through the barbershop window. I cheered when Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth reunited. I was a loyal viewer, WWE magazine subscriber, and attended the events when they rolled into town.

    The "Macho Man" Randy Savage

    I was a weird kid, but I loved it. I always imagined becoming apart of that energy. I dreamed of becoming a professional wrestler with the WWE

    Fast-forward 28 years and I’m still in love. I still sit ringside and am a subscriber to the WWE Network. Last night I watched in surprise as Brock Lessner ended The Undertaker’s 21-match Wrestlemania streak. Yes, I KNOW IT’S FAKE! At 5 I knew it was fake. But I still love it. And I still dream of working with the WWE.

    My love of wrestling has evolved from the excitement around the events, to a fascination with the business. I believe that the WWE has defined true business disruption. And the disruptor is Vince McMahon, Chairman and CEO of the WWE.

    He came from a family of wrestling entertainers. His Father was the promoter for the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Vince became apart of the organization with a goal of disrupting the business. See, back in “the day” these wrestling federations were made up of regional offices. There was an unspoken understanding that regions would not invade each others territories. Vince McMahon didn’t care. He saw opportunity and began promoting to all regions and recruiting wrestlers in those other regions.

    He broke the rules. And then he broke the mold. He signed Hulk Hogan who, to this day, is THE brand of all professional wrestling.

    Not only did Vince disrupt the industry, but he revolutionized sports entertainment. He uncovered a new revenue stream by promoting pay-per-view events, like Wrestlemania. He’s continued to expand his brand and media reach through print, promotional toys, a movie studio, an interactive mobile app, and now a network. He’s survived rising competition through ruthless business practices.

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    But what’s allowed the WWE to endure, is its story-telling.

    Capitalizing on story-telling, the WWE has retained loyal fans, and acquired new ones through 4 decades of the Wrestling Boom, the Attitude Era, the McMahon-Helmsley Era, and the New WWE Era. Watching now, it’s certainly not the same “kid friendly” show that I remember as a child. In the 80s the WWE knew that to acquire new fans they had to appeal to a family audience. Over the years, as they recognized revenue potential, they adjusted their stories to meet the demands of their viewers and win the older crowd who would spend money. The fans of the WWE drove the direction of the brand.

    It’s the stories that keep you coming back. And the fans still drive the direction of the show. With the WWE app, fans can vote on who competes in matches. Interactive television. It’s these stories that reaffirm the brand of the WWE and that keep fans loyal.

    The WWE is an organization that’s fascinating to watch. I’m continually impressed with their risk-taking in business, and in the ring. Perhaps I’ll never climb to that top rope, arms raised high, like I always dreamed. But maybe I can disrupt business much like my first love.

    Are Your Marketing Metrics Causing You To Live In A World Of Pure Imagination?

    This weekend I introduced my children to “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. The original movie with Gene Wilder, quite possibly the funniest man ever. There’s a scene when Willy Wonka first emerges from the factory. I always found this scene to be rather bizarre (much like the entire movie I guess), but as I was reading this weekend I learned something very interesting about this part of the movie.

    In an interview, Wilder said he was initially hesitant about taking on the role, but finally accepted the role under one condition:

    “ When I make my first entrance, I’d like to come out of the door carrying a cane and then walk toward the crowd with a limp. After the crowd sees Willy Wonka is a cripple, they all whisper to themselves and then become deathly quiet. As I walk toward them, my cane sinks into one of the cobblestones I’m walking on and stands straight up, by itself… but I keep on walking, until I realize that I no longer have my cane. I start to fall forward, and just before I hit the ground, I do a beautiful forward somersault and bounce back up, to great applause.”

    The interviewer asked why.

    Wilder replied, “because from that time on, no one will know if I’m lying or telling the truth.”

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    And he was correct. Throughout the movie you’re never really certain what is real, and what is illusion.

    This is also true when evaluating marketing performance. Numbers can be deceiving, and they require analysis and discussion to get to the truth. Below are steps I recommend taking when evaluating marketing campaign performance. Putting aside “leads” and revenue, these analytics provide some insight into your campaign engagement. These actions will allow you to better separate illusion from reality.

    1. Define your goal metrics and expectations. Hypothesize. This allows you to compare the outcome against something, and then discuss why the output under/over performed against those expectations.

    2. Review analytics daily. If you can catch issues, errors, and opportunities for improvement early, the more likely your campaign will be a success. All too often I see people evaluate the analytics once the campaign has concluded and by then it’s too late.

    3. Think beyond campaign analysis overview reports. Those are certainly good high level gimpses, but I’d also suggest drilling down into campaign engagement reports. These analytics breaks down engagement activity by both inbound and outbound activities as well as defining the leads generated.

    4. Review form submission data. Form submission data should show you the form entry for each individual contact who submitted that particular form. If it’s a longer campaign you also want to consider form submission trend reports. These allow you to look at changes in form submissions throughout the lifecycle of a campaign. This is especially relevant when there are multiple channels driving activity to the form, like using social media or if the form resides on a website.

    5. Avoid email click-through link breakdown reports. Instead identify reports that will show you the email click-through with query strong breakdown. Email click-through link breakdown reports will show you overall clicks, but that can be deceiving because it counts clicks through to unsubscribe links. The click-though with query string breakdown will show you clicks against each link within the email. It’s more of an honest report.

    6. View your marketing activity as a program. Set a standard that activity in your marketing department should be viewed as a holistic program, and less as siloed campaigns.

    7. Identify, or build, dashboards around trend metrics, campaign activity performance, form performance, and benchmarks which allow you to understand your marketing performance as compared to others in your industry.

    8. Understand the health of your database. Data quality affects how you perceive the performance of your communications. So many companies continuously include inactive contacts into their campaigns. Inaccurate data results in misleading performance. You could be performing better than you realize. You could be misdirected because inaccurate data is poisoning your metrics.

    How do you choose to evaluate success and failure of marketing programs?

    Are We Liars, Or Survivors? Work and Parental Confessions Revealed!

    As I was preparing a turkey sandwich for my Son, I found myself receiving the usual instructions. “Cut the crusts off please” he asked. I sighed. Really? 5-years old and we’re still doing this. Instead of arguing with him I find myself engaging in passive aggressive behavior. I cut the crusts off, and when he’s not looking, I place the crust remnants inside the sandwich. It’s silly, but it’s validation that he can’t even taste the crust.

    It also got me thinking about the same feeling I would have at work sometimes. Pouring hours into a project plan would typically result in no one reading it. I used to hide ridiculous tasks inside project schedules to see if anyone would actually read them.

    Thinking back I started to wonder, am I liar, or am I simply finding ways to survive the day? Fearing I was alone in this behavior I asked my social connections to share their work and parental confessions. As you’ll see, most were much more forthcoming about their parental lies.

    Work Confessions

    “Over 7 years ago I was well over 100% for the year and my boss wanted to see my pipeline on a spread sheet so I named all the law firms after the players on the 1985 KC Royals team, then 3 months later I listed guys I grew up playing basketball with. She never caught me.”

    “I was required at one point in my career to file a weekly activity report as a product manager. It had to be at least two pages long (the longer the better as my manager would gather our departments reports together into an impressive 20+ page report) and send it around every Friday night. On every single weekly report for over a year, buried deep in the middle of the third page, I wrote the sentence “Anyone who reads this sentence and brings me this report to me or e-mails me within 72 hours of right now (date/time inserted) I will gladly pay them $20 and buy them lunch.” In over a year of having to write these weekly reports no one ever once asked for the $20 or the free lunch. My friends and I started calling the weekly reports our TPS Reports.”

    “We have an IT person who buries ridiculous web content in the test environment. Made me giggle! I would catch it and email him back with funny stuff in my responses. We so often end up tuning down things we read because of the fast and furious pace we have to keep. Once in a while, I need a reminder to slow down and pay attention.”

    Website-Day-True-Office-Confessions

    Parental Confessions

    “I let my kids watch PG 13 movies as long as they promise not to repeat the cuss words. I just don’t have the energy to battle such a trivial thing as cuss words in movies.”

    “I concealed cooked onions in my son’s spaghetti sauce for years. Finely chopped, they are practically invisible.”

    “I am sick and guilty of giving my 3 yr old fun dip this morning for breakfast.”

    “My Son is a self proclaimed vegetarian – who eats bacon. (Aka The baconarian). When he asks where bacon comes from we say bacon. We tell everyone who visits if he starts talking about bacon it comes from bacon. We often call it bacon-bacon because turkey-bacon comes from turkey.”

    “I put sweet echo aces drops in my Daughter’s milk because she won’t take vitamins . She thinks milk without it tastes funny. Little lies for a good cause.”

    “I tell my Daughter places are closed when I just don’t want to deal with the “but why can’t we go to toys r us right now?”, or some other place.”

    “My kids are allergic to penicillin, so anything that I don’t want them to eat has penicillin in it.”

    “Sometimes we tell my Daughter that a restaurant doesn’t serve chocolate milk because we don’t want her to have the sugar.”

    “It’s against the law to stay up after 8:30 on a school night.” So there.”

    “It’s your FAVORITE! Or “I have to see you take 3-bites” and look away as the fork goes in the mouth. Before you know it, the plate of food is nearly eaten ’cause Mommy didn’t SEE you eat it!”

    I think you’ll agree that these confessions equate to survival. What are your confessions?

    The Value of a Corporate Playgroup; What I Do Every Friday at Four O’clock

    My schedule is unpredictable. Between travel, project deadlines, and family commitments each week brings something new. And I like that. However, there is one hour of the week that always remains constant. Friday’s at 4:00 p.m. Every Friday at 4 I have my Corporate Playgroup.

    As a resident of the Midwest I’ve been plagued by the Polar Vortex. And, as an adult, I’m going stir crazy, but my children are worse. They need entertainment. Lately, their entertainment has included torturing each other. Having their friends over to the house has been a source of relief. The kids can vent their pent up energy. They play make-believe, work on arts and crafts, and build cities out of LEGOs. Playgroups are a creative outlet for kids. They share, learn, and have fun. Shouldn’t adults benefit from the same togetherness? That’s why I have a Corporate Playgroup.

    It’s started about 2 years ago. At one time Hubspot hosted their “Live Weekly Marketing Update”. Every Friday at 4:00 three of us would settle into the Knowledge Room (that really was the name of the conference room) with some beer and open minds. We’d listen as Hubspot discussed trending topics from that week. Our little group would debate these trends and then would spend 30 minutes sharing an external marketing campaign or story we found relevant or compelling. It was a great way to wrap up the week, joke about our stressful projects, and gain inspiration from sources outside of our organization.

    Adults At Play

    Our little group of three quickly turned into 5 people, then 6 people, and pretty soon we had others from sales, development, and HR joining our Friday at 4 playgroup. I recognized that marketing was not a topic relevant to marketers alone. Sales wanted to contribute to the conversations, HR had marketing related challenges to overcome, and our developers wanted to better understand the business drivers behind our requests. And conversely, I gained insight into other areas of the business. I learned what our reps were hearing from prospects in the field, I could better gauge awareness when HR would talk about recruiting events, and I became a more effective manager by understanding all the steps required to build and create what we were demanding. Most importantly though, I made some great friends.

    These colleagues became trusted advisors. People whose opinions I valued. Eventually Hubspot discontinued their program, but we still met every Friday at 4. We continued to share our weekly takeaways, funny videos, and continued our collaboration. But, just as our playgroup grew, it eventually began to dwindle. We lost the first of our playgroup to a fantastic social media position with the University of Notre Dame. Then, in early summer, I bid my farewell followed shortly by a few others. When I left, I vowed that Fridays at 4 would continue. They were sacred.

    Now, 8 months later, we all still meet, over the phone, every Friday at 4:00 p.m. And what’s great is not only do we still meet, but our playgroup has evolved. Because most of us have moved on to new companies, we’re all working in various industries and touching different parts of marketing. I get to hear about all the awesome projects my friends are working on. Their work in content marketing, social media, and demand generation is exciting. My playgroup is not only a time to catch up and share work, but it’s also a fantastic source of inspiration. I’m so very proud of my friends.

    So, if you ever invite me to a meeting on Friday at 4:00, you’ll know why I’ve declined. That’s my time for education, inspiration, and fun. Not that we’d complain if Hubspot brought back their show ;) Additionally, our playgroup is not exclusionary, we always welcome new members from all walks of business.


    raymos_hilario moon@mailxu.com