The Customer Isn’t Always Right

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We in business have all heard the comment  ”The customer is always right.” I’m here to tell you that is not really true. The better way to think about it is that the customer paying for your product or service has the last word … right or wrong!

 

For nearly 20 years I was the “customer” or “client” and I prided myself on being open-minded, acknowledging, when and where appropriate, that I did not have the answer to every question and/or problem. I even admitted that I made mistakes. It was sometimes painful yet always necessary. My goal on making mistakes has always been to bat better than 500. When I do that, I am a winner.

 

As I have gotten a little older, I also have come to realize there are very few things in life that are completely “black or white.” When you are living your life to the fullest, business or professional, you learn very quickly that many shades of gray replace pure “black and white.”  What I have also found is that the better quality managers and business leaders have the self-confidence and maturity to readily admit that life is full of gray areas and they don’t have all the answers. And the true industry icons I know are never shy about admitting that they make mistakes.

 

What makes these people so unique in my mind is that not only are they willing to admit to their mistakes, they are equally quick to compliment those who correct them. These icons want what is best for their company and it stops right there. Being right is nice, but having a successful business is much more rewarding.

 

─ Bill

The Power of the Hashtag

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When Isis Wenger was chosen for an employee recruitment campaign for OneLogin, she had no idea that she would spark a social movement, or rather a social media movement.

 

When Wenger, a platform engineer at OneLogin, posed for the ad she received an overwhelming response of negative feedback. Many people questioned whether the ad accurately portrayed what female engineers look like, some even claimed that she was “too pretty” to be an engineer.

 

Wenger took to social media and encouraged others to share their stories about diversity issues in technology. She shared a photo of herself holding a piece of paper that said “I help build enterprise software, #ILookLikeAnEngineer.” Not long after, the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer caught fire. Over the next week, the hashtag was tweeted over 50,000 times by other women in engineering.[i]

 

Gender disparity and sexism are prevalent issues in tech, engineering, science, and math industries and have recently come into the spotlight thanks to Ellen Pao. When the junior investing partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufiled & Byers, and former CEO of Reddit Inc., sued the venture capital firm for gender discrimination she made headlines.

 

Today, younger generations are taking their concerns to the web; protesting via social media. Just in the past year we’ve seen social movements concerning same-sex marriage, racial profiling, and transgender discrimination take over the web.

 

According to the Computing Research Association, the gender gap in tech-fields often begins in college. In 2011 only 12 percent of computer science and computer engineering degrees were awarded to women.[ii] Part of the solution is companies making their workplaces more inclusive and recruiting diverse candidates. Another part of the solution comes from women in the field encouraging aspiring engineers on the web, much like Wenger.

 

What do women in math and science really look like? Who are they? How many are there? While gender disparity has often been at the forefront of people’s concerns, this movement sparked by Wenger forces us all to take a deeper look. The #ILookLikeAnEngineer movement also reminds us all of the power of social media and the power in sharing one’s story.

 

-Lydia

 

[i] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/06/technology/hashtag-aims-to-break-gender-stereotypes-in-engineering.html?ref=technology

[ii] http://archive2.cra.org/uploads/documents/resources/taulbee/CS_Degree_and_Enrollment_Trends_2010-11.pdf

Chemistry is Key to Client/Agency Success

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When selecting an agency to partner with, I always counsel those doing the search to begin with “chemistry.” The two most important factors in client/agency relationships, in my opinion, are trust and respect. These two factors dictate how well the people involved get along – what their chemistry is likely to be. While creativity, price, and service always factor into the equation, what was always most important to me when I was a “client” was being comfortable that my agency contact was able and willing to tell me what I needed to hear, even if it wasn’t always what I wanted to hear.

 

In my estimation, every creative agency offers “arms and legs.” What sets the best agencies apart from the rest is the strength of conviction that allows them to speak up and share their point of view or perspective on important topics time after time after time. This is really what smart clients are paying for.

 

No one has all the answers. Therefore, smart clients look forward to hearing a variety of opinions and viewpoints. This is critical to making the most informed decisions.

 

Surprisingly, from time to time I run into corporate marketers and managers who don’t welcome objectivity. These are people who don’t value their agency’s background or base of experience. They know what they want to do and be damned with what anyone else may think or say. More often than not, these are the people who fail. They fail as leaders, administrators, and team members. They are not good marketers. They are not good team leaders.

 

Agencies also fail, in my estimation, when they don’t have the strength of commitment to stand up for what they know is right. They have no guts. They are more concerned about making money than providing the one key service their clients need most … an honest point of view.

 

Honesty isn’t always an easy pill to deliver – especially by agencies that live hand to mouth; nor is it easy for the client whose business may be tanking to accept. That said, it is the only thing that really matters for both. I continue to be amazed by the people in business today who just don’t get it! They are often the same people who don’t think chemistry matters.

 

─ Bill

Content is King

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Content is king! But what does that mean? Let’s start by defining content marketing. According to Forbes, content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. While this sounds like a technical thing, all it really means is that brands need to focus on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content. The idea is to attract and retain your audience. Ultimately, your goal is to drive a profitable customer action. This action is usually to make the “cash registers ring.”

Why is content marketing important?

 

We live in a digital age. Information is so easily accessible via technology that people often use the Internet to find answers and solutions to their problems. This is one of the main reasons why businesses market online and why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become such a huge buzz-phrase in business. It’s important for your business to be the source of recent, relevant, and credible information, so that you are viewed as credible.

 

So to make a long answer short, content marketing is important because it helps people find you online.

 

How do I get started?

 

Getting started takes a bit of planning. You can’t just jump right into things.

 

  1. Determine your target audience. Deciding who you want to reach will inevitably help you decide how to reach them.
  2. Figure out the platform you want to use to push out your content. Is it your website, your blog, or even Facebook? Each platform is different and content needs to be tailored to each. Master one platform before employing the next. Quality over quantity is important.
  3. Decide on your end goal. Is it to increase traffic, drive sales, or help your SEO? It’s important to know your goals before coming up with content.
  4. Create a content calendar. Develop a working editorial calendar in which you can plan and track your content, and after it’s published, record results. This will help you tell a story with your content and also see what is working and what isn’t working.
  5. Optimize and learn. Make sure to report back on results of past content. Engagement is an important metric with content marketing, so try to optimize the plan towards that goal.

 

Hope this helps you have a better idea of content marketing and are ready to put your knowledge to good use!

 

─ Jacky

“Ti-i-i-ime is on my side. Yes, it is. Ti-i-i-ime is on my side. Yes, it is!”

Time-on-My-Side

At least these lyrics from Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones seem to be the thought of an increasing number of people these days … both professionally and personally. On the personal side, if a casual gathering or dinner party invite states that the party starts at 7 p.m., guests typically show up sometime around 7:30 or later. This seems a bit silly to me. If you want to go to a party and you are looking forward to seeing the people who will be gathered at the party, then it would make sense to me to maximize the time together and actually arrive when the party is set to start. Still, more times than not, being “fashionably late” is the norm. This is nothing new.

 

What is new (or at least more recent in rearing its ugly head) is the increasingly frequent examples of being late in the workplace. Late to work, late to meetings, working late at the office, working late from home … generally it seems a growing number of working professionals operate in a constant state of “late.”

 

How has the concept of “fashionably late” infiltrated the workplace?

 

Some consider it a generational difference. Some blame mobile technology. Still others say it is simply a by-product of an overall shift in how work is done today where we all work harder for less money.

 

I have a different thought, and this may hit too close to home for some. It may even offend.

 

Being late on a regular basis is NOT okay. It is rude and demonstrates little concern or respect for who you are getting together with and the value of their time.

 

Don’t tell me you lead a “busy life.” Who doesn’t? In today’s world most everyone’s life is busy, and, as such, being busy cannot be used as an excuse. Adapt! The reality is that the latecomers have a lack of respect for others and they feel their time is more important than everyone who is forced to wait for their grand entrance.

 

If you are going to an 11 a.m. meeting that is 30 minutes away on a good day and you leave your office at 10:35 a.m., you are going to be at least five minutes late. In reality, by the time you actually get to your car, drive to the meeting, get out of your car and into the meeting room, say any pleasantries (or apologies for your tardiness) and are set to actually meet, the group will likely be 10 to 15 minutes late in starting. Or, if they started without you, they will need to waste additional time bringing you up to speed.

 

Beyond being inconsiderate to those in the room, think about the wasted productivity for the company. If there are 10 people in the meeting, your thoughtlessness costs each person time. For simple math let’s say it was 10 minutes. That’s 100 collective minutes wasted. Nearly two full hours of lost productivity wasted by you! How should that time get billed? What should I put on my time sheet? Should I bill you for it?

 

A now classic and legendary trait of the late great University of North Carolina basketball coach, Dean Smith, was extreme punctuality. Here’s a quote that I embrace from his book, The Carolina Way:

 

“Our former players still talk about how serious we were about this. Players knew I used to arrive early for meetings and practices, and I expected everyone to be there and ready to go. Tardiness is the height of arrogance. In effect, you’re saying, ‘My time is more important that yours.’ Being on time is being considerate of others. We disciplined our players for being late. This went back to our philosophy of not having many rules but enforcing the ones we had. Being on time was one of them.”

 

Now, in fairness, there are indeed times when people are going to be late. Even with all of the best intentions in the world, things do happen that prevent punctuality. Yet these occurrences should be the exception and not the rule.

 

My advice. Don’t be rude and inconsiderate. Take a page from Coach Smith’s playbook and plan accordingly. If a meeting is scheduled to start at 11 a.m., be sure you plan your morning in a way that allows you to be in your seat at 10:45 a.m. That way, if something goes awry, you still have a 15-minute window to ensure that you are indeed on time. You can call me old fashioned, you may think I’m putting too much into this, and I’m happy to debate this at another time. For now, I need to submit this blog entry. It’s due at 2 p.m. and I don’t want it to be late!

 

─ Drew

HOW DO WE CONTINUE TO STAY IN BUSINESS AFTER 30 YEARS?

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Often people ask how we’ve managed to stay in business for more than 30 years. The first answer is, “Well, it hasn’t been easy.”

 

We’ve had the same challenges as other businesses over the years – recessions, gaining/losing/keeping accounts, keeping ideas fresh and exciting, staying on course, day-to-day business routine, horrific 911 and its repercussion, and, of course, staffing.

 

My husband started the business in 1985, set on competing with all NYC and LA agencies of similar intent. He set ours up as he wished those large agencies had worked with him when he was the head of PR in major U.S. family-owned and operated corporations. The intent was to work hands-on, be easily accessible, demonstrate mutual respect, all the while being kind, resourceful, creative, and mutually successful.

 

We’ve managed to stay ahead of the curve and find that to be fun and exciting. We often suggest ideas and get wide eyes and stares in return. Then, in three to five years those very same ideas pop up everywhere and all of a sudden are the latest and greatest. We already had those tactics in place with clients. That’s our job.

 

I have to say that staffing has been a challenge. It’s hard to keep people motivated, excited, and at the top of their game. There are a lot of outside challenges today with two-parent-working families, not enough hours in the day, satisfying individual wants and needs, and staying on track in the midst of constant interruptions.

 

Yet solid staffing is also an opportunity. Over the years we learned to seize the opportunity to find the very best people who fit in with our business philosophy. Our staff takes pride in having careers, not just jobs. They strive to stay on top of the news and latest trends. They work together and are extremely creative. They have respect for one another and their workplace. They enjoy being on the DeeterUSA team. And that makes each work day the best for everyone!

 

─ Linda