Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Tale of a Discontinued Product and Email Marketing

By now, everyone has heard the news that the Flip video camera will be discontinued. Cisco, Flip’s owner of two short years, will exit the Flip business and “align operations in support of Cisco’s network-centric platform strategy” according to Cisco CEO John Chambers. While the announcement was made in the mainstream media on April 12, as a Flip customer, I received an email from Flip on April 22.

The consumer-friendly mini camcorder was a trendsetter when it first appeared in 2007. Heavy users included non-profits, educators, and public relations professionals. The Flip video camera became an essential tool for people to tell their stories with video. And the Flip was so easy to use that it made everyone an instant videographer – okay, maybe not comparable to James Cameron or Steven Spielberg. The Flip was relatively inexpensive, ranging from $100-$250 and its built-in memory stored up to 30-minutes or 60-minutes of video. Also, the integrated software easily uploaded video to both PCs and Macs. Above all, the key strength of the Flip was that it allowed people to share, publish, and get easy access to video.

Some tech pundits believe that newer products have made the Flip obsolete. Smartphones including the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry all have video capabilities, so the question remains, would consumers choose a “one-product-with-a-multitude-of-capabilities” over one product that does one thing, and one thing well? Unfortunately, we will never know.

Joshua Goldman, Senior Editor of Digital Imaging of CNET, wrote, “Flip's disappearance will leave a big hole in the category. Hopefully these manufacturers will continue to innovate these devices instead of letting them die. I asked Kodak reps for a comment on Flip and they said they were surprised by the move given how fast their pocket video camera business was growing. They added that there will always be a role in the market for single-purpose devices as long as camera manufacturers continue to innovate in ways that are meaningful to the consumer.”

I have to wonder, why would Flip send an email to customers 10 days after the public announcement was made? If I, as a marketing expert, had penned the email, I might have offered something special to customers, maybe, a special Flip case that read “Cisco appreciates your Flip support” or a 50% discount on a new Flip (while they are still available) – or a discount on another Cisco product. Cisco seems to have lost sight of the fact that Flip customers really, really like their Flips – and Cisco has done nothing to address customer disappointment. The email fell flat – was their marketing team asleep?

The bottom line is that the Flip was a good product and liked by many, and when good products bite the dust, it’s sad. At least, Cisco said it will provide technical support for Flip video cameras until December 31, 2013. So, fellow Flip users, take lots of video with your Flips!

Watch This Video on YouTube: Flip Camera, RIP: Cisco to Discontinue Popular Video Camera as Part of Reorganization:


Flip Website: http://www.theflip.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/FlipVideoBrand

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/flipvideo

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/theflip

Cisco on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CiscoSystems

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Is that the same radio show on two stations?

This past weekend, I was driving in my car and listening to the radio. While I was in the process of changing stations, I thought I heard the same voices on two different stations. So, I toggled back and forth between the two stations a few times just to be sure - and lo and behold, my ears had not deceived me. I had definitely heard the same two voices: the same radio show host and her caller. There had been a two or three second delay in the conversation on the second station, but the topic of discussion was the same, which confirmed that I was listening to the same show. So, I wondered, why would the same program broadcast live on two different radio stations at the same time in the same market?

The radio program was a cooking show that is heard Saturday and Sunday mornings in Los Angeles, California. The odd thing is that, from 12 noon to 1pm on both days, the show is heard on two unaffiliated stations. In fact, the stations are competitors - they don't broadcast sports, rock, country, jazz, hip hop, easy listening, or religion. They both broadcast breaking news, traffic, weather, sports, and a recap of the news. But on weekends, when there is less interest in traffic jams and approaching weather systems, it would appear that there is an abundance of available listening time.

While I don’t spend much time listening to the radio except when in my car, I wonder what advertisers must think about this sticky situation. If I were an advertiser and allocated a chunk of my advertising budget to support the program on one station, would I be upset if listeners tuned into the show on the other station to avoid listening to my ads? Would I be annoyed if the pricing were less for advertisers on the other station? And lastly, would I be upset if famous radio personalities provided voiceovers to promote competitor products or services during the program on the other station?

Since I have never heard one program broadcast on two competing stations at the same time in the same city, as a marketing expert, this situation really struck me as odd. I can only hope that advertisers are offered an inexpensive ad rate or options to advertise on both stations. Otherwise, they should pull all of their ad dollars from this program - and not confuse listeners.

To quote the motto of a famous department store, "Be everywhere, do everything, and never fail to astonish the customer." As one listener of this radio show on two stations and a potential customer of all the advertisers, I was astonished but not in a good way. (P.S. Thanks, Macy's.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tactics for Welcoming New Employees, Increasing Productivity and Developing Effective Leaders

Please welcome Ron Thomas to my blog. Ron is a Principal at StrategyFocusedHR, a strategic human resources consultancy based in New York City, and he previously served in senior-level HR roles with Martha Stewart Living and IBM. He was recently named to the “Top 25 HR Influencers for 2011” by HR Examiner, and his work has been featured in Inc. Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Workforce Management, Chief Learning Officer Magazine, and Crain's New York Business. He is also a contributing author for a new book entitled, Creative Onboarding Program by Doris Sims. Ron serves on the Expert Advisory Panel on Talent Management Strategy at the Human Capital Institute, is a member of McKinsey's Quarterly Online Executive Panel, and was named to the HR Hall of Fame by HR Network of New York. Ron and I recently discussed a variety of personnel and leadership topics, and I would like to share some of Ron’s insights. For more about Ron, visit his blog
and follow him on Twitter.

What are the best onboarding (organizational socialization) strategies to welcome new employees?

RON THOMAS: Here are my strategies:

  • Make a connection from the first contact with the prospective employee – and maintain it throughout the entire recruiting process, and once the employee is hired, use the onboarding session to talk about your culture, standards, mission, and values.
  • Use the onboarding session as an opportunity to convey to the employee that he/she made the right decision in joining your company.
  • Train all hiring managers so that they pick up the baton following the orientation/onboarding session and welcome the new employee into their department.
  • Include employees who recently completed the onboarding process to stop by.
  • Schedule a special lunch for the new employee on his/her first day.
  • Make sure that everything is ready for the new employee including a desk, computer, phone, supplies, employee contact list, etc.
  • Provide an introduction to all team members.
  • Set up a mentor within the department to make the transition smooth.
  • Arrange a department lunch for sometime during the first week or two.
  • A timeline should be built into the first year of the employee’s tenure to periodically check the pulse of his/her work progress.
  • Describe the company’s outings and community involvement opportunities.
  • Describe the company’s corporate social responsibilities (CSR) initiatives.

Should management tailor its tactics to fit the personalities of its employees or the other way around?

RON THOMAS: Management should tailor its efforts around engaging the employee base. Managers should recognize that they are in the business of growing people toward their potential. If a leader truly believes that people are an organization’s greatest asset, then he/she is on the way toward creating an engaged workforce.

What are your five tips for increasing workplace productivity?

RON THOMAS: Here are my top five tips:

  • Develop good listening habits.
  • Create an open environment and connect with employees.
  • Develop a transparent approach to one’s leadership style and keep employees fully in the loop at all times.
  • Develop an atmosphere that is collaborative.
  • Create a “we are all in this together” atmosphere.
How have mobile tablets and smartphones changed the business landscape and helped or hampered productivity?

RON THOMAS: Mobile phones/tablets have changed the dynamic of certain functions within organizations. Doctors and medical personnel can use a tablet not only for demonstration, but patient history, prescriptions, and authorizations. Salespeople can flip through entire product catalogs and showcase demonstration videos at their fingertips. Training departments can become mobile with YouTube demonstrations and mobile webinars. Thanks to social media, those who cannot attend events (workshops, seminars, tradeshow keynote presentations) in person can “attend” on Twitter and watch the constant stream of Tweets – and also comment.

What are the five most important qualities of a good leader?

RON THOMAS: Here are my top five:

  • Be authentic.
  • Be self-aware.
  • Strive for transparency.
  • Be collaborative.
  • Believe that people are an asset to your organization – and demonstrate that belief by your actions.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Importance of Corporate Culture, Brand Ambassadors, and Believing in Your Employees

Please welcome William Powell to my blog. William is a candid, witty, and passionate professional who is known for his work over the last decade as an advisor for leadership development, organizational culture development, and employee engagement. He is known internationally by for-profits, non-profits, and individuals for his valuable insights not only in the area of self-leadership, but also as a valued consultant, dynamic speaker, and trusted coach. Bottom line, William Powell knows leadership and how to do it well. We recently discussed a variety of leadership topics, and I would like to share William’s compelling observations. For more about William, visit his blog and follow him on Twitter.


WILLIAM POWELL: One of the most important things in creating a healthy culture is to start with the values that will support the culture you want. Culture is based on behavior, behavior is driven by decisions, and decisions are governed by values. You can't micro-manage a culture. It must be organic and natural.

Starting with values will easily provide clarity for vision and then mission. Most companies already have a vision and mission, but if a company doesn't create the desired culture, it’s pretty much pointless. It's a mixed message and not only will the culture not happen, but there will be even less employee engagement. Vision and culture must match, and if you begin with values, it minimizes the chance of having culture and vision fight against one another.


WILLIAM POWELL: Tony Hseih, CEO of Zappos: Tony has redefined business for the 21st century. He has set a precedent of customer service and employee engagement that has quickly become the new standard for market industry leaders. Through his workshops and training programs, Tony continues to support the development of other leaders.

Douglas Conant, CEO of Campbell Soup Company: Douglas and his executive team have decided to make their employee engagement efforts “world-class,” in his own words. He has seen the measurable difference in their bottom line by enabling leaders throughout the organization to improve the emotional commitment from their teams.

James Quigley, CEO of Deloitte: Jim is a passionate leader who models and advocates mutual trust between employees and leadership. He encourages members of the leadership team within his organization to respect their people, help employees find their authentic voice and leadership style, and to demonstrate a genuine advocacy for their professional development.

John Noseworthy M.D., CEO of The Mayo Clinic: John has found an amazing way to protect the confidentiality of patients while simultaneously embracing social media in the area of health care. Recently, The Mayo Clinic has begun allowing patients to post their stories on the clinic’s blog. This allows Mayo Clinic customers/patients to have a voice, evangelize the Mayo Clinic brand, and advertise simultaneously.

Brian Dunn, CEO of Best Buy: Brian is focused on creating a fun and inspiring workplace while still maintaining sustainable solutions. He doesn’t buy into the pressure of Wall Street because he has a different view of Wall Street’s purpose. In his words, “Wall Street doesn’t care what a company is doing unless it is a means to a better outcome. Best Buy believes that its sustainability strategy will lead to a better outcome.”


WILLIAM POWELL: In short, position your brand in a way that allows the employees to emotionally connect with it. What does the brand mean to the employee? Does that brand represent a place that is the bane of their existence that they tolerate in order to get a paycheck? Is it a place where they stay because it’s familiar even if they don’t feel very valued there? The lower the level of employee engagement, the lower the chance of an employee being a brand ambassador.

If your brand represents an organization that cares about people and values their voice and contributions, then people will be quick to share that brand with others. There’s a reason that the people at Zappos, who are incidentally being paid similar to other call centers, love their brand. Just look at Apple, Zappos, Southwest, and Google.


WILLIAM POWELL: A too-common mistake made by leaders is viewing leadership as external to the “team.” One of the things I consistently see being done poorly is the erroneous perception that being the leader somehow excludes someone from the team. Being a leader is still being a member of the team – just with different responsibilities. When a leader begins to view him/her as external to the team or work group, his/her behavior changes and those who are “led” will pick up on it immediately. An atmosphere of distrust develops and slowly erodes productivity. Usually the problems remain hidden until they fester into a giant mess – and no one knows where to begin to fix the mess. It either devolves into a command and control leadership style or one with little-to-no accountability, because no one has the courage to point out the 300-pound gorilla in the room.


WILLIAM POWELL: My least favorite leadership buzzword is tolerance because it implies judgment. There is this sense of “My opinion/way/idea is superior or better than yours, but since I am the leader and try to promote a good atmosphere, I will tolerate your inferior thoughts.” I believe the word “acceptance” is much more appropriate. I can disagree with the premise of what someone may say or do but still accept him/her and his/her actions. No judgment, just acknowledging the differences and choosing to accept things as they are. Some may scream semantics, but I think there’s more to it than that.


WILLIAM POWELL: What, I only get to pick 5? Well, if I must...

It’s so common for leaders to read only leadership books, but leadership requires so much more than just a focus on leadership. What I mean is that having influence with others is important, but so is creating an environment that allows others to flourish with their gifts and talents. I can influence people all day long and never give them the opportunity to be who they were created to be. That being said, here is my list...

1. The Orange Revolution, How One Great Team Can Transform An Entire Organization by Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton

2. As One, Individual Action Collective Power by Mehrad Baghai & James Quigley (CEO of Deloitte)

3. The Power Of Positive Deviance, How Unlikely Innovators Solve The World's Toughest Problems by Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin & Monique Sternin

4. Start With Why, How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action by Simon Sinek

5. Personal Ecology, Self Management and The Art Of Cultivating Healthy Relationships by William Powell


WILLIAM POWELL: Two easy answers: fear and ignorance. Nothing is more frightening than having the wrong news go out at the wrong time and then spending time and money cleaning up a PR nightmare. If you’re a CEO, you probably just got a cold chill down your back. Relax! We hear of a news story where an employee put the organization in a very compromising situation and we freak out. How often do we hear about those...once every 3 months? Once every two months? Once a month? You have a better chance at winning the lottery than having to deal with some rogue employee - who thinks he is acting on behalf of the company when he is most definitely not. But here’s the key: your organization hired employees – so start trusting them. If you don’t feel you can trust them, you may want to re-think your recruiting process!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Does drama impact your workplace?

Some words can cause drama just by thinking about them or by speaking them out loud in a crowded conference room: change agent, transformation, workplace dynamics, boundaries, power struggles, and attitude. Motivational speaker and communications expert Marlene Chism turns these words inside out in her book, Stop Workplace Drama – Train Your Team to Have No Complaints, No Excuses, and No Regrets. Chism explains why drama is so pervasive in the workplace but also offers insights how to eliminate it.

After informing readers about the difference between two simple statements: “the drama is the situation” versus “your drama is how you react to it,” Chism empowers readers with an appropriate quote: “The one with clarity navigates the ship.” While you may not be able to change a fellow employee’s behavior or put an end to someone’s annoying complaints, you possess the power to change your reaction, your behavior, and how you move forward with your projects and, let’s face it, your life.

According to Chism, “all drama has one thing in common: a lack of clarity.” This lack of clarity can be found in the following situations:

  • Constantly changing directions
  • Conflicting desires that hamper productivity
  • Confusion
  • Not knowing who the boss is
  • Failing to enforce the rules
  • Instability
  • Insubordination
  • Incongruent behavior
  • Constant misunderstandings
  • Lack of boundaries
  • Resentment
  • People pleasing and manipulation
  • Analysis paralysis
  • Waiting for everyone to understand and agree

On the other hand, clarity can result in improved productivity, project completion, and motivated employees. So the question is, why waste so much time hiding the clarity and allowing workplace drama to fester?

To learn more, visit: www.MarleneChism.com & www.StopWorkplaceDrama.com

Read Marlene’s Blog: http://stopworkplacedrama.com/blog

Connect with Marlene on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stopyourdrama

Connect with Marlene on Facebook:


Connect with Marlene on YouTube:


Friday, April 1, 2011

When you’re on the road, do you notice RED CARS?

Author, innovator, and workplace dynamics coach Laura Goodrich thinks everyone can be more successful in the workplace if they just focus on “seeing red cars.” Does this sound like weird advice? If you read her manifesto, “Seeing Red Cars – Think It, See It, Do It,” you will learn how to “drive yourself, your team, and your organization to a positive future.”

Consider this scenario: how many times have you been in a meeting with co-workers, supervisors, subordinates, members of other departments, and after someone assigned you a task, you thought: I can’t do that – how many times? You have an internal discussion with yourself and begin to list the reasons why you cannot accomplish the project: not if I have to work with the people on my team, not without more resources, not without a larger budget, not without a different deadline, etc. Based on Laura Goodrich’s vast research, a myriad of examples, and yes, even your (the reader’s) real-life examples, we tend to focus on “what we don’t want” which leads to unwanted results.

Now, instead of the first response, consider this alternative: If I focus on my strengths, I can accomplish the assigned task. With this mindset, you can build a positive future for your team and entire organization. Try the “Seeing Red Cars” mentality – if you think about red cars on the road, you immediately start seeing them all over: one parked by the mailbox, one making a left turn at the corner, one leaving the drive-thru at McDonalds. You begin to wonder, does everyone have a red car? The answer is no, but you are noticing red cars because you are focused on red cars. Now, imagine how different your workplace would be if all employees focused their energies in a positive manner. Results would dramatically change: product launches would happen quicker, deadlines would be met with less resistance, opposing departments would no longer complain about working together.

Which of the following two team members would you want to work with?

Choice 1: Does anyone really say this? Sadly, too many employees speak or behave like this uninspired example.

“What I want is to engage in a conversation and say something offensive so that the other person says something that is equally or even more offensive. I’ll then respond in kind and storm away from the conversation steaming mad.”

Choice 2: Here’s an example of the Seeing Red Cars mentality:

“I want to effectively manage conversations so that I bring out the best in others and create trusted and open conversation.”

As Laura Goodrich says, “In situations large and small, it comes down to intention and actions. It takes discipline, but it really works. It’s simple, but not easy.” So, try looking for red cars, and you just might witness impressive changes in your workplace.

For more about Seeing Red Cars:


Read some Seeing Red Cars hero stories:


Follow Seeing Red Cars on Twitter:


Follow Laura on Twitter:


Follow Laura on YouTube:


Connect with Laura on Facebook:


Listen to Laura on BlogTalkRadio: