Can I Help You? Nope, Just Looking



can I help youThis is one of my most favorite terms that fellow #METS fan and renowned blogger and podcaster, Kerel Cooper of treats me to every time one of our pitchers strikes out a batter looking. It is not a way that a batter wants to go down, especially at a crucial time in the game. I was thinking joking about this recently as with my relocation to New Jersey I have now changed this to, Can I help you? Nope, just turning around. Awful but so true. This got me really thinking about our activity online and our home base; our websites.

Nope Just Looking

This is something that we quickly reply when we walk into a store and we are greeted with a friendly but annoying salesperson who asks if they can help us. Generally we immediately reply, “no, thanks, I am just looking.”  Many times we have just entered the store and have not even had an opportunity to look around the store to familiarize ourselves with our surroundings. Isn’t this the same when we visit a website? We are just reading an article or arrived on a page that has us … then Woop, there it is! The pop up to subscribe. I know these perform well but, then again, it is industry folks or real customers who are just looking and have barely spent the 15 or less seconds on your site before being asked if they can be helped. The pop up is an offer in the same way that is like the salesperson asking your for help. We want to scream, can I just read at least 1 paragraph before you are shoving yourself down my throat? In retail it is the 20 second rule, in social media we have lessened it to 15 seconds or under.

Nope, Just Turning Around

When we went the wrong way, we have to turn around. Turning around – it can be a myriad of things. We can be in a store and go down he wrong aisle, or be driving and realize we are going headed the wrong way so we flip a U-ie. I am the queen of the u-ie. In Las Vegas, the traffic engineers developed a center lane that allowed a u-turn in the middle of the street into oncoming traffic (scary at first but then you become a pro … until you have family and friends come for visit and it freaks them out!) In New Jersey you are pretty much turning into a driveway and performing a 3 point turn on surface streets. Hmh. Let’s think about that for a minute. An easy means of turning around or a complicated means. How easy is it to find your website and garner the attention of visitors vs the ease of having them leave? We do not want them to leave but at the same time if they are dead weight where they would never buy or come back, shouldn’t it be easy for them to move on?

Turning Around and Bounce Rate

Turning around for a website is a bounce rate. We care about the numbers so it matters. A high bounce rate sucks, however, when we put it into perspective of how many businesses we drive by each day and see their sign but do not go in, that is, in essence, a bounce rate. We saw them, read their sign and never stopped for more. We either drove past or turned around. In website traffic, at least they stopped by to push the traffic but they also hit the back button or the dreaded  X. They turned around as they did not find what they were looking for. Sometimes what we are initially looking for has us dead set on getting THERE but there are alternatives. An alternative that performs as well as or almost as well but more convenient without the turning around is going to get the sale. Not sure? Look at your competitors and watch them and you will see how they easily they are to turn around from. Are you that easy? Or is it hard to turn around from you? Content matters but the ability to leave you without clicking the back button to the level of frustration never will get them back. When they turn around easily and go back to the search, the alternative comes into play. The alternative is not always 2nd best, it is the unknown and that makes people uneasy. Once we are forced to pay attention to them, we find that there is no just looking …we found what we are looking for.

We want what we want. We want to get there sometimes quickly or sometimes are on the fence or afforded a luxury of time. Time for certain products is limited; seasonal. In a way, I guess when we think like more like a consumer, we are seasonal as when we are offering our services, products we really have to consider more of the buyer than the launch. We get that confused or lost sometimes as while we are turning around or just looking at the target market, we forget that they can do that as well.

Hmh, I end it here, so short for me but looking for reactions on what when we are finding what we are looking for, even if it was an alternative and if we remember that the target may just be not ready.

photo credit: alexindigo

Being There To The End



being there to the end Sounds like a winner to me. Winners are there from the beginning to the end … and then some. Winners are those that seem invincible and as if everything they do is flawless as regardless if someone falls off the bandwagon and speaks out, there is an army that attacks and looks to seize and destroy. Sounds a bit like social media icon disease worship but, that is not what this is about. Sorry to disappoint but this is about being there to the end. I can equate it to a fan who is the eternal optimist that never gives up on rooting for the team or the person who never pays much mind to the amount of followers they have, they just are there consistently giving it their all. We all want to be a winner or why would we be here or why would anyone wake up every day and go to work, or plug in to what is going on in the world? We want to win at something. We sometimes may loathe our job but we go every day to collect that ever so special pay check. We can call in sick, we can use vacation time but the grass is not always greener as we still have to go back because we want to make it somewhere, somehow.

The Beginning

Beginnings are insightful and full of a force inside us that drives us to want. We are excited about the new and all that it brings, even the fear as we know we can conquer it. We want to win. We want to excel, we want and want. We can only win by being better than everyone else. The beginning is hard as we are filled with so many emotions, ideas and want/need as we try and learn the ins and outs and how we can make our mark. In the beginning, we want people to notice and then after a while are pretty much ashamed as to now new and for lack of a better term, messy we were. Our posts were naive, our abilities and stamina were lacking but, at the time, it was stellar to us. We all cringe when we think about it. I think back to my first day of cross country practice and how great I felt being a part of the team but how awful I really was. I was a winner to me as I actually jogged a few miles but really looking back on that day, I was full of energy and wanting … wanting to please and show that I could be a member of the elite team.

How We Train

We train and practice to win. This is in everything we do. Not sure? Let’s say it this way. We learn how to win by becoming familiar and pushing ourselves. This can be physically or mentally. Physically we feel it more than mentally. Physically we feel it in every morsel of our body but, mentally we feel it in overload. We become frozen and all of our thoughts are mushed together where we feel we cannot form a thought that makes sense. In both instances, we feel that we need time away but the reality is that we need to stretch the body to rid it of the lactic acid that has built up and, for the brain, write out the thoughts to move on to others. It is how we train to become better. We cannot become better and win unless we train. Sure, there are some that have a talent like no other (singers, sprinters, swimmers, baseball players, pianists, writers, etc) but they all train to become better. Their talent is there but regardless they still have to train to become better as you cannot go from zero to sixty without a lot of understanding of the mechanisms behind it. The best of the best train and continue to as ok is just that ok. And, who just wants to be ok? I know I do not.

Being There To The End

Being there to the end is what makes a winner a winner. But, then again, it is more that being there to the end. It is being there before everyone, working harder than anyone and hitting the ground running. I have re-learned this though my son, Andrew. As we have recently relocated to New Jersey he just wanted to play football. Pretty simple I suppose as he thought it was going to be like his soccer league in Las Vegas. Well, it is not. His practices for the first 2 weeks are 2 hour practices which consist of conditioning which is required by the state. He is in drills with the “big” kids. Stretching, running, jumping, mock blocking, catching, throwing and more running. He has never been so tired but yet when they said they had practice on Saturday at 10, he was up at 7, watching the clock until it was time to put the cleats on and go to practice. He will get in the line with the older boys so that he can watch them and try and mimic them but knowing that he is not as good and risking that they will laugh at him (and some do) but, yet, he knows he is learning from them. He could care less if a coach sees as he cares about the other players more. In is eyes they can teach him and then the coach can see him. Sounds  bit like blogging where we have to earn our spot and gain an audience so that the “coaches” a/k/a the a-listers will notice.

Winners are there always. They are there first and last. They watch and listen; they get made fun of and they come back for more. Pain is secondary as the will to be a winner at what we want to achieve is always first. Sometimes we lost sight of that as we work so hard to achieve and while we may know that is next, we lose the fight. The recognition has us on air so we want to ride that wave for as long as we can because we are exhausted or for some we get this feeling inside that catapults us into that next flight that rejuvenates the fight inside us. The fight is always there if we are going to be there to the end. Hurdles are intimidating (and high for someone who is short) but never something we cannot overcome with practice. I guess the old adage of the more we give the more we get is so true. I am the luckiest person in the world watching my 6  year old with so much passion in his eyes to push so hard for a big kid to say “hey little man, nice catch.” I guess we can equate it to a blog post that gets spread around that we never thought would even make a dent.

Being there to to the end is working harder than anyone which is not easy as we dictate that by what others allow us to see. I can say I am working harder than anyone but yet my Twitter does not tell that lately but maybe being a bit absent does. It is not always what people think, it is what we do. So what are you doing to be there until the end?

photo credit:  Brian J. McDermott


Being New



new to me Being new is hard. We do not always think about it as so much of our lives brings familiarity to us. The stores that we shop, the aisles of the grocery store, the streets we drive. We can hardly remember a time when we did not know where we were going, the channels on the television, the light switches and the plugs in our homes. We have to stop and think for a second and realize that for some, everything is new. EVERYTHING. Sure, we get a new job, a new client, a new car but and while that is exciting and new to us, the rest of our lives are so stable that we forget so much about being the new kid on the block. The new kid has to learn relearn how to create a comfort zone that gives a sense of stability.

Creating a Comfort Zone

Comfort zones are defined within us. Each of us has one and we are drawn back to it in times when we are feeling that uneasiness of being new or unsure of what we are doing. When we are so new to something and have nothing that is familiar, we look around anxiously as if everyone knows that we are new. My relocation to New Jersey has caused me to dig really deep to find the comfort zones. Yes, I lived in NJ for 30 years before moving to Vegas, however, I now have a 6 year old that I did not have when I lived here before. I live in an area that is as foreign to me as self serve gas is to NJ (note to self, DO NOT get out of the car at the gas station to pump gas). My comfort zones are still unknown right now as when I think of what I have experienced over the past 2 weeks with getting lost more than one person should be allotted in a lifetime to trying to get acclimated to the time zone, it all gets a bit fuzzy.

Making Sense of it All

In our own marketing and advertising, it all makes sense to us, because we know it and are so close to it. That is not always the case for someone new. A new customer has no idea of the facade of the building, the streets to get there, the pages on the website to navigate, the credibility of the business. They have to make sense of it all within themselves. That we can attribute to brand image which is valid but has the new customer taken the time to really develop an image of you in a way that you would like them to do or were you chosen because they could not find someone else in that moment? Was there something that they saw of yours (webpage, Twitter, FB, building, flyer, etc) that satisfied an immediate need and that gave them a sense of familiarity that brought them to a comfort zone?

When we are new, we rely solely and exclusively upon others. Their directions, guidance and recommendations, we are at their mercy. We are so vulnerable that it can almost make your skin crawl thinking about it. Imagine for just a second not knowing where the plugs are in your house. Insane. Imagine having to ask someone or Google where the nearest bank is and then how to get there and let’s not forget how to get back or to another destination as no need to come all the way back home when the post office is around the block from the bank. Now think of your new customers. Are they experiencing complete and utter newness not only to you but to the area itself? How can you help them and create a long lasting relationship? Talk to them, see what they are struggling with and how you can help. Online, are you walking them through your website? Do you have a page that is for first time visitors that explains your site and how they can maneuver their way around to get to know  you and also find what they need? Make sense of it all for them.

Adjusting and Becoming a Familiar Face

We are resilient and we adjust to so many situations in life that we tend to look back at the times when we were so scared and laugh. For parents, remember the days leading up to the birth and the fear that overcomes you from how am I going to get this kid out of me to I have no idea how to take care of a baby. After a few days which lead into months which lead into years, we realize that we did know how to take care of a baby. For me now, I do know that I know how to drive and can adjust to the narrow streets, the one ways and traffic challenges that comes with being in New Jersey. It takes a bit of planning and more thought than I am used to but it also allows me to become a familiar face in certain stores, areas of town and gives people a chance to be helpful. It is very easy to say you are helpful to others until it comes into play from those who need the help. I already know which places I will return to and which ones I will drive by and risk getting lost to find its competitor.

We are all new to something at times. How we adjust many times is how we are greeted, guided and treated. Let’s turn that around to our own businesses, job and life. How are we treating those who are new to us? Are we ensuring that they are not going to drive by and risk getting lost finding our competitor?

photo credit: Alan Vernon.

Brand Loyalty or Loyalty to the Rewards?



brand loyalty or loyalty to the rewardsBrand loyalty it is what brands try and build with each customer or even before they become a customer. The ad copy, the branding, the packaging, the commercials are all set to speak to the buyer to create the emotional connection of need. You need to buy this brand because it does this or buy this one over that one because this one does this and that one does not. The buyer has hear, listen and react to the message and understand the differentiators and choose the one that best fits their needs.The brands themselves are branding their brand through creating the need but the consumers are choosing the brands that best fulfill their needs. Diapers, we may recall Pampers but yet find that Huggies fulfill the needs and is a better or more practical choice for us. We may prefer Pampers but Huggies does the job just fine. Think of making a grocery list where we write down that we need salad dressing, ketchup, cereal, we go to the product itself and not the brand name. However, most times as we are writing, we know what brands we will be bringing home. We do not need to write down Heinz ketchup as we know we are buying Heinz so ketchup suffices. As a  consumer, you are buying them and thinking only of them but why? Is it because that is what you always buy or is it driven by some sort of reward?

Brand Loyalty

Consumers that are loyal to a brand do not see any other on the shelf; there is no attention paid to the other brands pricing, packaging, location or advances to try and lure them away. Those that are brand loyal know that they were and still are being targeted with messages and pay close attention to the details. We know pricing of the brand we purchase, and, while different stores may vary on the pricing we know that over time it all evens out. As a brand there is a two fold of loyalty here (when carried at a local retailer and not their own exclusive shop) as there is loyalty to the retailer as well as the brand. As brand loyalists, we know the quality of the product or service and we feel we are receiving the ultimate value as even if the “other” brand is discounted by the retailer this week we will still make that sacrifice and pay just a little bit more than usual for our brand. We will not stray and be a brand switcher.

Loyalty to the Rewards

As consumers we cannot ignore the rewards and discounts. The door buster sales, the buy one get one, the three for X dollars. The sale items are merchandised so that we see them on the end caps of stores, the front display, the extra $.25 in the coupon that the retailer will double. We are inundated with these specials and discounts. The reward of receiving the coupon, for some keeps them loyal by making them come and buy. What happens when the rewards stop coming. Do they still buy? Do they always buy when you extend the reward? Depends on how the reward is presented and the attention given to it. Did we know that we needed before the reward was introduced to us or did the reward create the urgent need within us? Reward based loyalty is not new as casinos have built entire programs around rewarding customers for spending money at their establishment. the more they gamble, the more points and rewards they earn. This benefits they receive from losing money act as a buffer and a change of mindset as the focus is off of the loss and on what they are getting for free.  The same concept applies when we receive a 30% off coupon or see an ad on tv for up to 80% off. We forget that we are spending money to receive the reward.

Brand Loyalty vs Loyalty to the Rewards

As a brand that is relying upon retailers to sell their product, it is hard to tell if people are brand loyal or loyal to the reward. If sales are spiked during a promotion like the Superbowl or a seasonal event like the kickoff to summer and the BBQ season, we cannot look at that as brand loyalty for all buyers. Some are buyers all year round of chips, salsa, beer, hot dogs, hamburgers, buns, condiments, etc. We can better gauge brand loyalty for stand alone retailers who can track sale for sale their customer buying habits. In casinos, we can see habits of gamblers where they come in for certain promotions where they can earn double the points or for a big giveaway. The casinos know that their gamblers are choosing them this week but the very next week or even the next day, they are headed off to the casino down the road for their rewards. Free or the thought of winning matters and drives them. This is not loyalty to the brand, it is loyalty to the reward.

True brand loyalists will purchase regardless of the reward. The reward is an added benefit. If Diet Pepsi is not on sale at my grocery store, I may only indulge in one sleeve and when I have to make a mid week trip for something I either ran out of or forgot to put on the list, I will head over to the other grocery store to see their special on Diet Pepsi. Diet Coke is not an alternative. I will spend a bit more for a 12 pack or do without before I buy Diet Coke. Coca Cola could give me a 12 pack for free and I will donate it before I drink it. I am that loyal to Diet Pepsi. This is loyalty to the brand and not the reward.

Are your customers loyal to you or the reward? Or is it something completely different where they continue to purchase from you or refer you because the presumed risk of trying them is too high? This is something that we need to look at when we are considering discounting, targeting and how we interact with our customers. Are people only purchasing due to the feeling like they are receiving something back? If your prices are lowered by 20% will that pull the trigger and make them buy? For reward loyalists, you can raise your prices 50% and then discount 20% and they will buy whereas the loyalist will be willing to pay the 50% spike.

Again, can you readily identify those that are loyal to you or the reward?

photo credit: Travel 2.0