@ Clayton Kendall for a day

I’d like to thank the good folks at Clayton Kendall, who had me in for a “work-for-a-day” kind of second interview. I’ve applied for an Email Marketing Manager position with them, and I was one of three candidates to be invited back for a day. I was given several “tasks” to do, which involved providing some marketing strategies and other written tests. I think I did well.

I’ll let you know!


“We’re already doing that”

As part of my routine calling of past contacts, I called a bank that I had worked for in the past, and I told them about a predictive modeling software solution that gives community banks a structured way to create and enforce a sales culture within branches

They said, “we’re already doing that.”

But I think maybe not.

Just below, I alluded to “the old days” still being with us. Does anyone remember driving past a bank branch (or even seeing an ad from a bank) and seeing the words “Loan Sale” on a banner? I am embarassed for the folks who’d put those banners out. That’s one step above simply begging a customer for business.

There are various degrees of business intelligence involved with marketing. I’m going to relate several different marketing angles that I receive from three different book stores. See if you can tell the difference:

1. As someone who has purchased or rated [BOOK] by [AUTHOR], you might like to know that [THIS NEW BOOK] will be released on August 15, 2009.  You can pre-order yours at a savings of $8.48 by following the link below.

2. YIPPEE! Bargain books abound at [Bookstore], or

3. John, loyalty has its perks–here’s a $10 coupon just for you!

Another leading “Rewards” program sends me “40% off an item of your choice” coupon. It’s embedded with a “30% off all Dummies(r) Guides” (which I’m NOT currently shopping for), and “Hit DVDs Sale — $4.99 Selected Titles” (which I’m also NOT currently shopping for.)

All three of those aproaches are the type you’ll see in a variety of different marketplaces. But who is the one that’s really going to appeal directly to me as the customer? Clearly, the Amazon.com appeal (#1 above) is the most sophisticated, because it’s actually a part of an individual relationship that they know they have with me, and it’s one that they nurture.

Which do you think is most effective?

Knowing the Future

“The opportunity is to move from sense-and-respond decision-making to a predict-and-act model.” — Ambuj Goyal, General Manager of I.B.M.’s information management business.


There’s a lot to be said for not proceeding too quickly in an economy like this one. There’s also a lot to be said for knowing the future.

That’s the gist of the message to learn from IBM’s acquisition of SPSS, whose website features “customer intimacy” and “knowing what your customers will do, before they do it.”

In the old days, there was “test marketing.” In fact, today’s Wall Street Journal shows evidence that the “old days” are still with us. Today’s WSJ features a story about Procter and Gamble and a test market of a product they’re calling “Tide Basic” (a scaled-down version of their industry-leading Tide brand of laundry soap.)

P&G of course wants to know the future. They want to know how this product will be received, and so they have manufactured a little bit of it, which is “currently for sale in about 100 stores throughout the South.”

This is the “sense-and-respond” model of business marketing — P&G will measure actual sales of the new product and decide whether to roll it out, based on those sales.

With its acquisition of SPSS, IBM has just bet $1.2 billion that that model of decision-making is going to be too slow for future marketers. In fact, the NY Times article linked above suggests that most of the major software companies are continuing to invest heavily — to the tune of more than $15 billion — in the notion that more companies will rely on the “predict-and-act” scenario in the future:

Major technology companies have made a flurry of such purchases in recent years, grabbing suppliers of software that helps businesses and governments organize and analyze data to make better decisions. The industry segment is broadly known as business intelligence software. In the last couple of years, I.B.M., Oracle, SAP and Microsoft have collectively spent more than $15 billion buying makers of such software.

I think this is so important to understand that I’m planning a series of postings on this topic. Please stay tuned, and feel free to ask any questions that you might have.

“Social Media” cited in improvements to customer satisfaction

“A growing number of businesses are tracking social-media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to gauge consumer sentiment and avert potential public-relations problems,” according to the WSJ this morning.

“Ford Motor Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co., among others, are deploying software and assigning employees to monitor Internet postings and blogs. They’re also assigning senior leaders to craft corporate strategies for social media.”

Ford was able to avert a PR crisis with a fan website because of the quick response of its “head of social media.” PepsiCo responded quickly to criticism of a potentially offensive ad in a German-language publication. And an “emerging-media team” from Southwest Airlines shaped a positive media response to an emergency landing, citing Tweets that praised “great work by crew and customers onboard.”

“Social media have magnified the urgency of crisis communication,” says Shel Holtz, a communications consultant in Concord, Calif., and co-author of “Blogging for Business.” He says seemingly small incidents can quickly spread into bigger PR problems via the Web.”

Companies can’t get away with bad behavior because social media puts them under too much scrutiny; it only takes one blog post or tweet or YouTube video to kick-start a flood of criticism leading to damaged reputations and lost customers. All those conversations are the motivation companies have needed to start providing excellent service, if for no other reason than to avoid fast-spreading conversations about just how bad they are.


An Early Rothschild was a Cataloguer

In 1755, Mayer Amschel Rothschild’s parents both died. He was eleven years old, and had four younger brothers and sisters. He was sent to Hanover to stay with the Oppenheim family. In the six years he spent in Hanover,

he saw many wealthy and powerful men and their agents….How, he must have asked himself, did they use their money? What did they spend it on?…His specialty was old coins. In the days when he had helped his parents run their business he had learned to identify specimens which were unusual because of their fine moulding or antiquity…Some time in the 1760s, he begain supplying coins to [prince William of Hesse], always at bargain prices, sometimes at less than cost. He was not interested in immediate profit. He was building a relationship…In the meantime he set up in business as a general trader. The eighteen-year-old head of the family dealt in all kinds of cloth, in wine and skins, in anything brought by merchants to the fairs and markets of Frankfurt which might yield a profit, while at the time continuing to act as a money-changer. But…he had developed a taste for and a knowledge of luxury items affordable only by a discerning and wealthy clientele. So, year by year, he ploughed surplus cash into his side-line. Year by year, he produced a catalogue for his customers, describing the rare and beautiful objects which he could offer. And, year by year, these increased in variety and value. By 1783 he was able to offer besides coins, medals and prints, “several figurines, stone sculptures and framed pictures set with diamonds. If any art lover wishes to examine these items we will deliver them and arrange the lowest possible prices.” These catalogues were distributed to noble courts within a wide radius of Frankfurt…

(From “Rothschild: A Story of Wealth and Power,” by Derek Wilson, pgs 9-11, emphasis added.)

Successful PR at HyperActive

At HyperActive, we worked with a PR consultant named Mary Ann Bohrer, who was really helpful in generating and solidifying the PR results we obtained at HyperActive. Here are just a few of those “hits”:

FS/TEC: HyperActive Technologies’ drive-thru solutions
QSRweb.com (video)

“HyperActive Technologies Breaks Investment Drought”

Hardee’s Franchisee Streamlines Drive-Thru Efficiency
Hospitality Technology Magazine, December 2008

“HyperActive moves beyond one-product strategy”
Pittsburgh Business Times, December 8, 2008

“Silicon Valley’s Coolest Investments”
Forbes.com, January 2008

“CMU Students Create ‘Revolutionary’ Fast Food Robot”
Channel 4 News, Pittsburgh (video) November 20, 2007

“Making Fast Food Even Faster”
New York Times, October 28, 2007

“HyperActive Technologies puts fresh into faster food”

“For fast-food help, call in the robots”

Took a few days off

Part of the “inner gyroscope” thing. I know, the search for work should be full-time work, and I’m up for that. Monday I mailed the first 30 from my Dun & Bradstreet list (www.zapdata.com) of Pittsburgh area software firms. No bites on that yet — one returned — but I’ve also created a series of documents so that I can phone and otherwise follow-up with each individual that I write to. The process of direct mail and follow-up is one I intend to farm over the next several weeks, as a way of building up a current network of contacts, perhaps gaining such project work as is available out there, and even leading to a full-time position.

Awesome printer for printing envelopes

For a long time, I’ve advocated “individualized mass mailings” as a way of reaching the marketplace. Sure, we live in an electronic era — but we’re still human beings, and we still have that sense of touch. That’s why I think personalized mailings are an effective way to go. I’ll find out more as I go along — I’ve just started a mailing with some 40o pieces to go out.

I’m finding that a cheap old Canon IP 1800 is doing an awesome job printing my envelopes. (At HyperActive, we recently had a fight with a new Toshiba printer that SUCKED at envelopes — so badly that I barely did one.)

An Assessment

a little help from your friends
a little help from your friends

At the time I was let go, I was totally focused on doing my own job — my thought was that the company itself would be my vehicle to success, and in the words of Carnegie, “put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.”

Well, I had done that, to the exclusion of having joined any networking groups, or having met any people in the (local software industry) outside of the industry.

I haven’t posted for a few days — and I’m not normally one to “take a few days off,” especially in a situation like this one. But you have to recharge yourself. You have to take time and give your “inner gyroscope” time to right itself. That’s what I’ve been doing, and here, in my unique (or not-so-unique) situation, I’ve taken that time, done an assessment of myself (in general terms, I guess, but as it leads to a plan of action), and I’m ready to move forward.