Tuesday, October 30

Human Connections with Your Customers through the Marketing Experience Matrix

For marketers, what is this matrix? In the movie, The Matrix, it was a rebellion against machines. In the instances laid out here, it’s about 21st century business communications between your stakeholders (customers) and your organization. Whether you are a service company, retailer or a brand, today’s customer demands more from you than in the past.

Here is where all your multi-channel marketing all blends together into an enticing and successful customer journey. This engagement matrix will be online or offline. In any strategy like this it’s important to connect with your customer in a positive, personalized manner. Although this is not customarily a part of traditional marketing methods, even the user experience on your website is a part of it. People no longer tolerate hard-to-navigate websites, they just move on to the competitor’s seamless digital experience.

Rather than rebelling against data, let customer analytics help you advance your marketing goals

Even the most experienced marketers confuse the customer experience with customer service. They’re also an important cog of the matrix – defining them initially is key:
  • Customer service is an action performed in reaction to a customer comment, request, complaint or question. Customer service is performed once you have a customer, and it is part of your customer retention strategy. 
  • Customer experience is everything you can do proactively to attract a prospective customer, as well as to promote general good will about your business once your customer enters the funnel. The experience is engagement in every form, not just public relations.
The days of guerilla marketing are over. You can no longer get away with sneaky or deceptive marketing tactics; today customers are savvy. You no longer “own” your message; commerce transacts in a democratized world. We live in a world where the customer has just as much weight as you do when it comes to influencing purchase paths. Storytelling is good for your brand, but having the customer join you in the engagement matrix is far more powerful.

Connecting – in this matrix – is a combination of human engagement, marketing and data to fully reach human beings. Know your customers.

Empower your customers to be stakeholders. Be sure they understand that they are an engaged and appreciated stakeholder. Realize that communication and engagement is no longer “us” vs. them; it’s about all of us, together. This strategy works best when we want to clearly send across a message. It’s all about human conversation, personalization and engagement on the customer’s terms – not yours.

When it comes to social media, don’t invade and alienate customers. You need to meet and greet them on a personalized plane. You can safely assume, according to Pew Internet survey, that your customer is on Facebook. According to the survey, while 89% of Americans currently use the internet, eight in ten online Americans (68%) use Facebook).

Although Facebook is king, Twitter is the home of the hashtag, and people are hit by hashtags on traditional media every day. People who are new to Twitter go to the site to see what a hashtag means. While they are stopping by, they might just check to see if their favorite brand is part of the conversation. Wouldn’t it be sad if your account had no visible interactions? What a super impression it would make for one of your customers to see a vibrant conversation from your brand with their stakeholders.

Considering your all-important social media marketing plan, incorporate social listening. Hear what is being said about your brand and jump in to promulgate a conversation. Don’t let negative social comments stay unanswered. You need to respond publicly and quickly. Make it known to the world that you have taken action and cooperated to elevate your customer’s experience.

You may choose to have a dedicated social media team, but consider every front-facing employee to be an ambassador for your brand. Front facing can be as obvious as a team member in store or an employee on social media with your company name in their bio. Every word they say in public reflects on you and your brand. Part of my customer engagement matrix includes a Social Media Policy for your employees.

Interact with your customer. Use your CRM best practices and extract enough personal data to connect on a one-on-one basis. A simple entre to this on social is to build a database of customer’s birthdays. A simple comment, such as “happy birthday” goes a long way to build a connection.

Jump into the matrix of customer engagement through offline methods as well as online.

Follow your customer’s journey, but don’t think you can pinpoint a persona by generalizations. For example, a study from IBM and the National Retail Federation shows that 98% of the digital native Generation Z (those born between the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s) prefer to shop in stores than online. (But, interestingly, they form most of their brand relationships by engaging with brands online).

Shopping in-store for any generation is a high touch experience. The customer can run their fingers across your product, hold it with their hands to make the final purchase decision. Through this high-touch experience, customers build an emotional attachment to the product which is difficult to replicate online.

By using customer data analysis, today’s in-store experience can be remarkably personal. When a customer goes to the register to pay for items; personalized suggestions for additional products can be at your team member’s fingertips.

Word of mouth in the digital age is just as powerful as in the old days, perhaps even more respected today. Every customer needs to walk away from any connection with your brand with a positive feeling of inclusion.

Remember that “No problem” is not a valid comment – we’re sorry, we care and we appreciate your concern. Words make a difference in how the customer understands their value. Humanize your response, connect personally with your stakeholders and watch your bottom line grow!

Tuesday, May 29

When Technology Black Swan Huawei Blueprints Future Vision, people listen

Black swans are the ultimate outliers. They have the ability to surprise and disrupt the status quo.

I was recently in Shenzhen and was permitted access to Huawei’s campus. I know I didn’t see it all, but I saw enough to get me thinking. I had heard lots of stories, but reality was even more interesting. Seeing and talking to the people gave me new insights. I’d heard that in China, tech employees worked 10 hours straight a day. Not really. The offices, campus and the university (yes, a University where all employees study) are perhaps even more modern and inviting than many I’ve seen in the United States.

It was hard to take in everything, but I was fascinated by the fact that Huawei  founder Ren Zhengfei’s office overlooks a most exquisite man-made lake.  This lake is open for anyone to walk and enjoy. Most interesting was the fact that black swans were imported to live in the lake. It wasn’t until I had returned home that I realized their significance. Black Swans!

Upon reflection, China’s Huawei is the ultimate black swan. Rare and unexpected, its employee owned (privately held) status allows it to disrupt common business models and even technology. There are no outside shareholders to answer to and they foster the philosophy of “we’re all in this together” as well as collectivism. Huawei looks at the world considerably different than the majority of the Interbrand 100 companies. (In 2017, they were number seventy on the list and are the youngest technology manufacturer on the list.)

Founded in 1987, they’ve risen from obscurity to one of the top growing brands in the world. According to the 2018 China RepTrak® study, conducted by the Reputation Institute, Huawei has been ranked as the most reputable Chinese corporate brand in their home country. In the study, “How to Win on Reputation in China: Understanding Chinese vs. Multi National Companies,” they out-performed Apple (a one time a classic black swan) in terms of transparency and open communication “Compared to Apple, Huawei is 2x more genuine”.  They are clearly the fastest rising 31 year old startup.

Black swans catch the competition by surprise. Huawei began their journey as a small telecommunications supplier, but quickly grew from home spun to acquiring major contracts. The black swan strategy is clear in their progress. Rather than going after telecoms in economically advanced major cities, Founder Ren chose to go after rural areas where competition was small and need was great. At a time when The Art of War was a popular tactical and strategic philosophy, he chose to "surround the city with the countryside." Huawei would cover the provinces with employees to support and service their equipment, signifying their devotion to a customer-centric philosophy. After being hugely successful in the countryside, they soon conquered the metropolitan cities.

Monday, February 19

The Top 5 Secrets To Selling On eBay

Lots of folks tell me they want to become an online seller. Too many try to tell you how easy it is and others don't want to put forth the effort to make a few dollars. In my experience, every dollar in helps out towards extras at home and with family.

Bottom line? It isn’t simple – especially the part where you actually try to make a profit. You have to keep up with changes in the marketplace — like shifts in consumer buying behaviors — study from tried and true experts, and practice!

The best place to get a feel for any online sales is to begin on eBay. I’ve written many bestselling books on the subject, and I’m a Top Rated Seller on the site. Remember that you can’t make a dime if you don’t actually list anything, and you probably won’t be successful without making a few mistakes.  My newest book, eBay Business All-in-One For Dummies 4th edition, answers just about any question you may have from sourcing products to staying in line with the tax man.

But, you can also learn from the successes and mistakes of others. So in this post, I want to offer some advice on how to create listings that sell – and how to earn the most profits from those sales!

Listing title

Nothing is more important than your title. You’ve no doubt heard about SEO (search engine optimization). Well, you can apply these same practices on eBay to increase sales. It’s all about “keywords” – the terms people will use to search for your item. Note that rarely would anyone search for a “beautiful” sweater. More than likely, someone would search for a sweater in a certain size, color, fabric, brand name, sleeve length – get it? Do not waste your 80 characters (total allowed on eBay for your item title) on fluffy adjectives or adverbs. The item title does not have to be a proper sentence; instead, be sure to make the verbiage descriptive with practical details. Since eBay buyers see less than the full title listing when browsing (mobile only shows 25 characters), keep the less important words at the end. Search will find the matching words anywhere in your title when someone searches for them.

Tip: Use tools like Google’s Keyword Tool (used by advertisers who place ads with Google) or Title Builder, an eBay-centric search tool to identify top keywords people search for.


You may post up to 12 pictures at no charge, but most new items can be illustrated completely in just three or four clear, well-lit photos. Be sure the photos you upload are at least 500 pixels wide or you run the risk of eBay rejecting them. Use multiple photos if you are selling a collectible or rare piece so that you cover every possible angle. Be sure to photograph any flaws so the customer can effectively evaluate an item’s condition before bidding on or buying vintage items. If you would also like to show images within your description, go to the HTML description builder and use the code . When shooting images of jewelry, coins or anything detailed, use your camera’s macro setting. Do not use any fancy backgrounds that may distract from your item.

Tip: To accurately portray colors of metals, use a Cloud Dome (or Cloud Dome Nimbus for smartphone cameras). It holds your camera steady and uses an algorithim to reflect light at exact angles for the best images possible.

Price it right

Check eBay’s completed listings search to see if your item actually sells well on the site and how much similar ones have sold for in recent auctions. Prices and trends may change by the minute and there is no point in listing when an item isn’t selling well. Check current listings too: How many sellers are selling your item? And at what price? As with any market, eBay items sell based on supply and demand. Choose your items carefully, price strategically and put slow selling items in your store. If you have a bit of wiggle room in your pricing, consider using eBay’s “Make Offer” option when listing. This way you can determine the sale price based on a customer’s offer. You can make up to 3 counter-offers to a buyer. Free shipping is also a good strategy for attracting customers and can make your listing seem more appealing than another seller with the same or a similar item – buyers feel like their money is going further, and there’s no guessing as to what cost the final invoice may reflect.

Tip: Double check your profit margin before you list. Although eBay has fee calculators, one of the better ones I have found is at http://finalfeecalc.com/ – this tool takes fees, expenses and discounts into account and gives you a picture of how much you will make on your item if you sell it at a certain price point.

The Value of Customer Service 

Good customer service will set you apart (and give you a leg-up on the competition from big brands) by letting the customer know you care. Communicate with your customer, even within your description. Let the customer know you are invested in their happiness with the purchase. Sell to international customers; American goods are very popular overseas. Putting the customer first through stellar customer service promotes repeat business and helps you reach the goal of Top Seller Status (where you receive a discount on final value fees and are advantaged by eBay’s Best Match search algorithm).

Tip: Print out “thank you” notes and include them in your orders. Include information about you, your website or other merchandise you carry. Consider also offering customers a discount on their next order.

Ship the item out FAST!

Know when your auction listings are scheduled to end, and be prepared to immediately pack and ship any items that have sold. For “Buy It Now” listings, set aside a few minutes each day to take care of shipping needs. Once the customer has sent you money, the item belongs to him or her – it no longer has a place in your inventory area. Print your shipping label within 24 hours and post it to eBay and they will notify the buyer.

Keep a stock of shipping supplies (padded envelopes and free Priority Mail® packaging here) that match the items you sell. Use First Class mail whenever possible for items less than 13 (15.9 if you're using online postage) ounces and send them in a bubble wrap envelope to save on weight.

Tip: When it comes to shipping costs, box weight can make a big difference, so you might consider Priority Mail® Flat Rate Boxes, depending on the size and shape of the item. Priority Mail® Regional Rate Boxes can also be an economical option, depending on your shipping destination. Use the postal zone charts at this link to calculate shipping rates from your ZIP Code.

Remember, Top Rated Seller Status, which can increase your profit margin, is impacted by how buyers rate your customer service, shipping time and shipping costs.

Monday, January 15

5 Features Entrepreneurs Need on a Smartphone - found them on the Huawei Mate 10

Today’s smartphones are so full of features that its hard to distinguish one from another. They’re all great. But what I’m looking for is innovation. Features that will actually make a difference and add value to this tiny computer we all carry everywhere.

I received the Huawei Mate 10 Pro at the launch event in Munich last year. I didn’t review the phone then (since so many people did). I wanted to live with the phone and give it a real, hands-on, daily driver report. (As an aside, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro was named as the best Android phone of 2017 by Android Authority.)

While I appreciate a sexy phone and a great screen, innovation is my primary reason for selecting a smartphone. The Pro model I tested adds features of an OLED screen, 128 GB storage (no Micro SD card slot) and 6 GB of ram.

Without giving full specs (read on the Huawei website), you should know the basic firepower behind these phones is powered by amazing engine, where all parts work as a SoC (system on a chip) :