Monday, November 18, 2019

What’s Your Favorite Thanksgiving Brand?

When you think of Thanksgiving, there are many brands that come to mind from the foods we eat to the activities before and after the large meal. But what brands are your favorites? Here are five of mine.

MACY’S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE
Whether you live in New York City or anywhere else, there is a particular parade that, since 1924, has become a family ritual to watch in person or on television. The three-hour parade is held from 9am to 12noon Eastern time on Thanksgiving Day, and it has been televised nationally on NBC since 1952. A unique aspect of working at Macy’s is that Macy
s employees have the option of marching in the parade. Would you march? (There is a website dedicated to the parade at https://www.macys.com/social/parade.)
 

BUTTERBALL TURKEY
Have you ever tried to cook a 15-pound or 25-pound turkey and run into trouble? Have no fear, if the turkey is a Butterball. This brand has a help center called the Turkey Talk Line. This help center began in 1981 when six home economists worked the phones that holiday season to answer 11,000 turkey-cooking questions. Since then, the Turkey Talk Line has grown in both the number of calls answered and the number of experts who respond. The Turkey Talk Line is open November and December each year and is staffed with 50 experts who answer more than 100,000 questions, for thousands of households in the United States and Canada. And in today’s social era, cooks can connect with the Turkey Talk Line via social media, live chat, texting, and even Amazon Alexa.

BEST BUY
One of the most-well known technology stores has become synonymous with Thanksgiving due to its array of deals. Many people choose to miss their Thanksgiving meal in order to line up to be first in line (or second or third) to enter the store. Best Buy opens its doors at 5pm on Thanksgiving Day to accommodate shoppers who want to get a great deal on a big screen TV or other tech gadgets at ridiculously low prices.

FOOD NETWORK
Some people test their cooking skills during Thanksgiving meal preparations. This is why the Food Network comes in handy. Many shows feature specific Thanksgiving recipes, and many chefs who have their own programs focus on the annual holiday. Here’s just one example from the myriad of Thanksgiving promotions on the channel’s website:

“Is the thought of cooking Thanksgiving dinner stressing you out? Don’t worry. Food Network is here to help! The cast of #TheKitchen including Sunny Anderson, Alex Guarnaschelli, Katie Lee, Jeff Mauro and Geoffrey Zakarian, will be joined by special guest Alton Brown to answer your cooking questions LIVE in a totally-interactive #ThanksgivingLive TV special! Tune in on Saturday, November 23, from 11 am-1 pm EST and get ready for expert advice, time-saving tips, and our favorite tried-and-tested Thanksgiving recipes!”

RECREATION EQUIPMENT INC. (REI)

According to REI’s website, “For the fifth time this Black Friday, REI Co-op will close all its stores, process no online payments, and pay all 13,000 employees to #OptOutside with friends and family. But this year, under the leadership of a new CEO and facing a global environmental crisis, the co-op is going a step further: asking its 13,000 employees and 18 million members to join in the fight for life outdoors – and life on this planet. The co-op is asking members and employees to “opt to act” – joining a nationwide clean-up effort this November, leaving the outdoors better than they found it when they #OptOutside on Black Friday and signing up for an employee-sourced, 52-week action plan to take small steps throughout the year to reduce their environmental footprint.”

What brands stand out to you on Thanksgiving? Or, are you too tired from your turkey meal to pay attention to advertising?


Image Credit: Macy’s.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Fall Back to Reading with 12 Thought-Provoking Business Books

Those of us who have a passion for reading begin the summer with a large pile of books that we hope to read. As often happens though, events intervene, and the pile of books seems just as high at the end of the summer as it was at the beginning. However, this past summer, I read a dozen business books containing memorable insights about leadership, marketing, and customer experiences, and I highly recommend that you add them to your fall or winter reading list. A suggested Tweet for each book is included at the end of each review, and Twitter handles for all authors and referenced links are provided at the end of the post.

HOW TO CREATE CUSTOMERS FOR LIFE by Bolivar J. Bueno
This book introduced the concept of “cult brands.” After defining a brand as a co-authored experience, a mutual relationship that lives between the customer and a brand, Bueno explained that a business does not control its brand. While you may control what your brand does, how your brand is perceived is entirely up to your customers. He explained that “Apple is the embodiment of a cult brand, a company that commands fanatical loyalty from its customers.” An example is when Apple fans line up for hours, sometimes even days, to purchase new versions of the iPhone before ever seeing or using one. Other examples of cult brands include Harley-Davidson, Southwest Airlines, and IKEA – based on the relationships they have forged with their customers. 

Bueno identified seven golden rules of cult brands:
(1) The Golden Rule of Differentiation = Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different
(2) The Golden Rule of Courage = Cult brand inventors show daring and determination
(3) The Golden Rule of Fun = Cult brands sell lifestyles
(4) The Golden Rule of Listening = Listen to the choir and create cult brand evangelists (value their opinions)
(5) The Golden Rule of the Tribal Imperative = Cult brands always create customer communities
(6) The Golden Rule of Openness = Cult brands are inclusive
(7) The Golden Rule of Freedom = Cult brands promote personal freedom and draw power from their enemies

TWEET THIS: Successful brands add value to the customer experience across all touch points and are trusted because they CONSISTENTLY deliver on their promises. – BJ Bueno via @CultBranding #BrandTip

THE 10 STORIES GREAT LEADERS TELL by Paul Smith
To quote Paul Smith, “Every great leader is a great storyteller…[but] the first and most important part of being a great storyteller is knowing what stories to tell.” Smith explained that a leader must be able to answer these questions in order to become a great storyteller:
(1) Where we came from = a founding story
(2) Why we can’t stay here = a case-for-change story
(3) Where we’re going = a vision story
(4) How we’re going to get there = a strategy story
(5) What we believe = a corporate values story
(6) Who we serve = a customer story
(7) What we do for our customers = a sales story
(8) How we’re different from our competitors = a marketing story
(9) Why I lead the way I do = a leadership philosophy story
(10) Why you should want to work here = a recruiting story

TWEET THIS: Strategy is how you’ll get from where you are now to where you want to be, a journey. And what better way to describe a journey than a story? -@leadwithastory #LeadershipTip

CONVERSATION MARKETING by Kevin Lund
The sub-title of this book was “How to Be Relevant and Engage Your Customer by Speaking Human.” How often do brands “speak like humans” and ask customers, “How can I help you?” According to Lund, “In a business marketing setting, effective conversation elevates content from a tired commodity to prose that motivates. It humanizes a brand…The Conversation Age requires businesses to educate, motivate, inspire, and even entertain their customers, all while telling a human story. When brands speak human, this conversation begins and the journey from customer discovery to customer loyalty can begin.”

Lund’s content marketing strategy can be boiled down to three/five questions:
(1) What does your target audience need to know right now? (relevant, useful, trending)
(2) What’s the right angle? How can your brand talk about the issue in a unique way?
(3) What’s the punchline? What do you want them to do?

TWEET THIS: By integrating your brand with your audience, and earning their trust over time, you’ll enjoy a greater lifetime value with each customer. -@KLundT3 of @T3Custom #CX

LESSONS FROM THE MOUSE by Dennis Snow
The sub-title of this book was “A Guide for Applying Disney World’s Secrets of Success to Your Organization, Your Career, and Your Life.” I interviewed author Dennis Snow, a fellow alum of The Walt Disney Company, on my blog last summer (August 2018), and the link to my interview is provided at the end of this book review post. While Snow shared ten important lessons from working at Walt Disney World, my favorite was lesson number seven: “Never ever say ‘That’s not my job’ – don’t even think it.” No matter what industry you work in, the “it’s not my job syndrome” must not ever appear in your corporate culture.

TWEET THIS: A customer-focused culture is one in which everything is designed with the “lens of the customer” in mind. -@DennisSnow #CX #BrandExperience

USING YOUR BRAIN TO WIN by Holly G. Green
According to Green, “From the time we get up in the morning until we lay our heads on the pillow at night, we’re bombarded with information from countless sources. Advertising, emails, voicemails, texts, Twitter, Facebook, TV, radio, etc. They say that we live in the Information Age, but many days, it feels like the Distracted Age…Slowing down to go fast starts with actively seeking out information from a variety of sources. Pay attention to trends and events outside your industry. Then look for ways to apply that information to improve internal systems and processes or to add value to customers in new and better ways.”

TWEET THIS: At weekly management meetings, talk about an idea or technique from another industry and how it might apply to your business. -@HollyGGreen #BizTip

BUILD AN A-TEAM by Whitney Johnson
Whitney’s best teambuilding advice is to be a CEO, defined as a Chief Encouragement Officer, because “You don’t win unless your team does.” In addition, managers need to know the seven accelerants of learning, which include:
(1) The right risks = become a talent developer
(2) Distinctive strengths = pinpoint employees’ talents and utilize them
(3) Embrace constraints = use time limits to motivate and hone focus
(4) Battle against entitlement = celebrate success and be generous in helping employees fulfill their potential
(5) Step back to grow = sacrifice short-term productivity to encourage curve jumping
(6) Give failure its due = let employees take on uncomfortable challenges and support them through failures
(7) Be discovery driven = shift players on your team as their skills and talents emerge

TWEET THIS: In the first week of employment, hold a strategy session with a new hire, just as you would a customer. In fact, a new hire is a customer, a highly important, long-term customer. -@JohnsonWhitney #EmployeeExperience

THE SERVICE CULTURE HANDBOOK by Jeff Toister
Toister began his book by sharing a story about how a Tampa International Airport employee went above and beyond the call of duty to reunite a six-year-old boy with his lost stuffed animal. This was an unforgettable example of when “employees are obsessed with service,” and can happen once Toister’s directives are followed:
(1) Define your culture
(2) Engage employees with your culture
(3) Align your business around a customer-focused culture
(4) Set goals that drive your culture
(5) Hire employees who will embrace your culture
(6) Train employees to embody your culture
(7) Empower employees to support your culture
(8) Make sure that leaders/leadership team support, communicate, and live the culture
(9) Commit to a customer-focused culture for the long-term

Toister also pointed out that it’s important for organizations to remember that not every brand can be Disney, Southwest, Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton, or Amazon. “Trying to copy another company’s culture is an exercise in futility. There are too many things that vary from company to company, such as, business models, target customers, product line, organizational history, and even the skills and personalities of the employees.”

Lastly, since employees are the secret sauce in this discussion, Toister suggests creating an Ideal Candidate Profile for the hiring process that includes the following elements:
(1) Organizational must-haves
(2) Organizational nice-to-haves
(3) Job-specific must-haves
(4) Job-specific nice-to-haves

TWEET THIS: A hero moment occurs any time an employee, a team, or an entire company rises to the occasion to provide customers with outstanding service. -@Toister #CX #BrandExperience

KICK-ASS LEADERSHIP by Dr. Deborah Osgood
The sub-title of this book was “Discover What Makes Great Leaders Tick,” and six leaders representing a variety of businesses and the military were featured. Ten characteristics that make leaders tick were introduced and explained: adaptability, perseverance, networking, teamwork, focus, courage, conviction, innovation, self-discipline, and passion.

TWEET THIS: The more we can collaborate to inspire others to find their leader within, the better! -@OsgoodandAssoc #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding

CUSTOMER UNDERSTANDING: THREE WAYS TO PUT THE “CUSTOMER” IN CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AND AT THE HEART OF YOUR BUSINESS by Annette Franz
On page three, Franz asked, “Is your company guilty of not putting the customer in customer experience?” While the theme was how to CREATE A CUSTOMER-CENTRIC BUSINESS, first, you must know who your customers are. After providing a definition of customer experience as “the sum of all interactions that a customer has with an organization,” she suggested that too many businesses focus on customer satisfaction metrics, rather than on the customers themselves. 

Does your business ask, how will a change impact the customer? Will this product or service change add value, or does it create pain? How often are customers’ best interests included in new product or service design discussions? Do you empathize with customers? Do you have a customer journey map? Have you aligned your business around the customer? And lastly, Franz discussed Jeff Bezos’ empty chair concept. At Amazon meetings, Bezos includes an empty chair to represent the customer. This is a constant reminder that everything Amazon does is for the customer. Does your business operate in this manner?

TWEET THIS: Put the customer in customer experience – and make the customer experience your highest priority. -@AnnetteFranz #CX #BizTip #BrandExperience

SUSTAINED LEADERSHIP WBS (WORK BREAKDOWN STRUCTURE) by Thomas G. Reid
In his book of nearly 700 pages, Reid explained, “The Sustained Leadership WBS will guide those who wish to learn more about being a leader to understand the skills, actions, and characteristics of successful leadership, offer a roadmap for assessing  their current leadership acumen, and provide a personalized course of study and actions to improve their leadership.” 

A memorable quote by Andy Stanley in Vince Molinaro’s book, The Leadership Contract, was shared, “When a leader attempts to become well-rounded, he brings down the average of the organization’s leadership quotient – which brings down the level of the leaders around him. Don’t strive to be a well-rounded leader. Instead, discover your zone and stay there. Then delegate everything else.”

This incredible quote will remain with me and join my list of favorite leadership quotes. How often do you encounter leaders who think and act as if they must be well-rounded in every aspect of a business? As this quote explains, this perspective causes damage.

TWEET THIS: Choosing to be a leader is neither simple nor easy. -@_TomGReid #LeadershipTip

THE CUSTOMER-CENTRICITY PLAYBOOK by Peter Fader and Sarah Toms
In a follow-up book to Fader’s Customer Centricity, Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage (link to my review at end of this post), Fader and Toms provided an alternative perspective to customer-centricity. First, they defined customer centricity as “the alignment of the development and delivery of a company’s products and services with the current and future needs of its highest-value customers while also recognizing and celebrating customer heterogeneity.” And if you’re a baseball fan and a Dodgers fan, you’ll enjoy the case study that ends the book entitled, “The Los Angeles Dodgers – A Home Run for Customer Centricity.”

Readers learned how to:
(1) Develop a customer-centric strategy
(2) Understand the right way to think about customer lifetime value (CLV)
(3) Finetune investments in customer acquisition and retention
(4) Foster a culture that sustains customer centricity and understands the link between CLV and market valuation
(5) Understand customer relationship management (CRM) systems

TWEET THIS: If I could pull out my magic wand and wave it and see the future value of each and every customer, I would run my business differently. -@faderp #CX #BrandExperience

TWEET THIS: For me, customer experience is surfacing all of your expertise, your goodies, and your secret sauce to your customers. -@SarahEToms #CX #BrandExperience

LEADING SO PEOPLE WILL FOLLOW by Erika Andersen
In this, the third leadership book I’ve read by Andersen (links to other reviews are provided at the end of this post), a fairy tale and its highlights are referenced throughout the book. The fairy tale demonstrated six timeless attributes of an effective leader. The attributes are listed below:
(1) Farsightedness = Leaders see possible futures that are good for a business, articulate their vision in a compelling and inclusive way, model their vision, see past obstacles, and invite others to participate in the vision
(2) Passionate = Leaders commit honestly, make a clear case without being dogmatic, invite dialogue about their passion, act in support of their passion, and remain committed despite adversity and setbacks
(3) Courageous = Leaders make necessary/tough choices, put themselves at risk for the good of the business, do things that are personally difficult, take full responsibility for their actions, admit and apologize for mistakes
(4) Wise = Leaders are deeply curious/listen, assess situations objectively, reflect on and learn from their experiences, see patterns and share their insights with others, act based on what they believe is morally right
(5) Generous = Leaders assume positive intent, share power and authority, share knowledge, freely give credit/praise/reward, provide the resources necessary for others to succeed
(6) Trustworthy = Leaders tell the truth as they understand it, do what they say they will do, keep confidences, speak and act for the greater good, act capable and get results

When looking at leaders you’ve known and followed over the years, how many of these attributes have you personally witnessed? Do you agree that Andersen’s set of tools are necessary? I do!

TWEET THIS: You CAN become the leader people will follow. -@erikaandersen #LeadershipTip #LeadershipDevelopment

To make this list a baker’s dozen (13 books), here’s a work of fiction: 
THE LAST ALIBI by David Ellis
This is a murder mystery, a legal thriller, and a who-dunit all wrapped into one. A big surprise will leave the reader shaking his or her head long after the final page.

You can follow and learn more about the authors on Twitter:
BJ Bueno @CultBranding
Paul Smith @LeadWithAStory
Kevin Lund @KLundT3 and @T3Custom
Dennis Snow @DennisSnow
Holly Green @HollyGGreen
Whitney Johnson @JohnsonWhitney
Jeff Toister @Toister (Book’s website: www.serviceculturebook.com)
Dr. Deborah Osgood @OsgoodandAssoc
Annette Franz @AnnetteFranz and @CXJourney
Thomas G. Reid @_TomGReid
Erika Andersen @erikaandersen
Peter Fader and Sarah Toms @faderp and @sarahetoms
David Ellis @DavidEllisBooks

Post referenced in review of Dennis Snow’s book:
“Why Your Brand Needs a University and Other Tips for an Amazing Brand Experience”
http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2018/08/why-your-brand-needs-university-and.html 

Stories referenced in review of Jeff Toister’s book:
“Boy leaves stuffed tiger at TPA, returns to a tale of tiger's big adventure”
http://www.tampaairport.com/boy-leaves-stuffed-tiger-tpa-returns-tale-tigers-big-adventure
and
“Stuffed Giraffe Shows What Customer Service Is All About”
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/stuffed-giraffe-shows-wha_b_1524038
and
“Great Customer Service Never Ends: Joshie the Giraffe - Part 2”
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-hurn/great-customer-service-ne_b_8340954.html

Concept referenced in review of Annette Franz’s book:
“Why You Need an Empty Chair at Important Meetings”
https://www.management-issues.com/opinion/6675/why-you-need-an-empty-chair-at-important-meetings

Book referenced in review of Thomas G. Reid’s book:
The Leadership Contract by Vince Molinaro
https://theleadershipcontract.com/books

My review of Faber’s first book on Business2Community.com:
Is Your Business Customer-Centric?
https://www.business2community.com/customer-experience/business-customer-centric-0634144

Other Erika Andersen book reviews:
Review of: Being Strategic: Plan for Success, Out-Think Your Competitors, Stay Ahead of Change
http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2011/07/want-to-be-nicknamed-strategy-guru.html
and
Review of:
Be Bad First: Get Good at Things Fast to Stay Ready for the Future
http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2018/10/fall-reading-recap-leadership-branding.html


Image Credit: Debbie Laskey’s Library.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Always Have a Conversation with Your Audience

The best part of social media, and especially my favorite platforms Twitter and Instagram, is the people I meet from all over the world and the information they share. Recently, I met Bart Egnal, and due to his passion for leadership, I invited him to appear on my Blog to share his expertise. Highlights of our conversation follow a brief introduction.

Bart Egnal has 20 years of experience as a speech writer, executive coach, and leadership development professional. He is the a author of Leading Through Language: Choosing Words That Influence and Inspire (available on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.ca/Leading-Through-Language-Choosing-Influence/dp/1119087716). He built The Humphrey Group into a global company by finding like-minded people who believe in the power of inspirational communication. He lives in Toronto, Canada, with his amazing wife, three wild children, and a fierce eight-pound wiener dog. You can find Bart on Twitter (@THG_Bart), his podcast (https://soundcloud.com/inspirepodcast), and his company's website (www.thehumphreygroup.com).

QUESTION: We “met” after I read an article you wrote about social media and the decision you and your company, The Humphrey Group, made to leave Twitter. I was inspired by your article and then wrote a Blog post (link provided at end of this post). What three pieces of advice would you give to a leadership team that might be considering the same decision?
BART EGNAL: It was a tough decision because of the pressure to "be social." My advice: You have to love the channel for its own sake, you have to have a client base that connects with you on it, and you have to "feed the beast" and keep up the stream to make your presence sustainable.

QUESTION: How do you see the employee experience tied into or aligned with the customer experience, ultimately what I refer to as the overall brand experience?
BART EGNAL: Deeply tied. Our vision is to make The Humphrey Group the go-to company for inspirational communication. Obviously, that's for clients who want to lead and inspire, but equally important is how we want to attract talent who shares our passion, and then give them a great place to work. Our brand is built on both what our clients and our team experience. We can never stop working on making both of those great.

QUESTION: Everyone has heard about “McDonald’s University” and “Disney University,” where employees learn about corporate culture before direct interaction with customers. Do you think every company should create a similar form of initial and repeat training?
BART EGNAL: Ideally yes! Of course, you need a certain amount of scale to make such an endeavour possible. But every employee should learn about what the company stands for, it's "WHY," before doing any work. This is both so they are energized but also so they can share that raison d'etre with clients. If you don't have the size of Disney, you can do that through conversations.

QUESTION: As a public speaker, you must have some communication tricks up your sleeve to keep your audiences engaged. What three tips would you like to share to improve my readers’ public speaking skills?
BART EGNAL: Remember: You're never giving a presentation or speech, you're always having a CONVERSATION with your audience. So connect with the room, be personal and be vulnerable. We've (thankfully) left behind the age of the "sage on the stage," and audiences want to connect in an authentic way with speakers. And a tip: they aren't there to read your slides - they want to hear from you.

QUESTION: What three things must everyone do to create a memorable personal brand?
BART EGNAL: I'm not a brand expert, but when it comes to leadership communication, it all starts with knowing yourself and what you stand for. This is fundamental to authenticity. Once you know that, define the ideas you want to convey so you can be ready to lead. And finally, you have to work at it. I just told a client I was coaching last week that those who look like naturals have often worked unnaturally hard at it.

QUESTION: Lastly, one of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): "Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others" What does that quote mean to you?
BART EGNAL: Great quote! In this day and age, leadership is increasingly de-coupled from hierarchy and from credentials. Leading rarely is about your skills or aptitude or title. It's about how you can create followership in others. Where will you lead them? What will be inspiring to them? That's what this means to me.

My gratitude and appreciation to Bart for appearing on my Blog and for sharing his inspiring insights.

Blog post referenced above in first question:

Social Media: Brand Builder or Mission Distraction?
http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2019/09/social-media-brand-builder-or-mission.html

Image Credit: Bart Egnal quote with WordSwag app.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

How Will Your Brand Commemorate September 11?

Waves of Flags, Pepperdine University, Malibu, California
If you were alive on September 11, 2001, your life was forever changed by the events in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in rural Pennsylvania. Terrorism arrived in the United States - and the country would never be the same.

This September marks the 18th anniversary of that tragedy, and while war and terrorism still exist, we will always remember the people who perished on that September morning. And we will always celebrate the first responders who rushed into harm's way.

In those first few days after September 11, 2001, most brands added an American flag to their homepages with messages of condolences for the lives lost. Since social media did not exist, there were no Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram posts that gained hundreds of thousands of comments, likes, or retweets. But today is different. Social media has provided opportunities for everyone's voices to be heard.

On September 11, 2012, President Barack Obama proclaimed the date as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. While US government buildings fly their American flags at half-staff, Americans are urged to perform a day of service and make a positive difference in their communities.

2019 will mark the twelfth year that Malibu's Pepperdine University will showcase the annual Waves of Flags, a display of 2,977 full-size flags. There are 2,887 American flags for each American life lost and 90  international flags representing the home countries of those from abroad who died.

No one can forget Budweiser's ad featuring the iconic Clydesdales that aired only once (during the 2002 Super Bowl - here's the link: https://youtu.be/J3eQmzw6n3k). "The horses pay tribute to the memory of the fallen of September 11th with an unforgettable, breath-taking bow. Many have never forgotten the commercial that never aired again...[Budweiser] had to get approval from members of Congress, the ad community, and from New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani," reported Shirley Washington.

There are some inspiring ways for your brand to commemorate September 11, but you may also wish to remain silent. There are traditional marketing avenues, such as, email marketing, website messages, and advertising. And then there is social media. Your brand can combine efforts with competitors or aligned brands as well.

While some in the marketing arena think it best for brands to remain silent on September 11, the reality is that consumers look to brands to make an emotional connection. When a connection is made, often long-term loyalty happens. On this very important day in American history, people remember the brands that spoke out. So, how will your brand commemorate September 11?





Image Credits: Debbie Laskey Photography and Twitter.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Social Media: Brand Builder or Mission Distraction?

I read a blog post recently with an unusual perspective whose theme has remained with me. 

The title of the post was "Farewell, Twitter," and the writer was Bart Egnal, President and CEO of The Humphrey Group, a leadership and communications consulting company with offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and Mexico City. 

Here's the link for the post: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/farewell-twitter-bart-egnal?trk=prof-post.

According to Egnal:

On December 31, 2016, after 3 years on Twitter, The Humphrey Group sent its last tweet. And though we will keep our LinkedIn profile, we intend to invest little time or energy into our social media presence in the coming years.

This wasn’t a snap decision; we had spent 36 months increasing our commitment to, “have a conversation” with our clients, staff and industry voices. We had sent over 1700 tweets. Our Founder, Judith Humphrey, and I both wrote about leadership communication online for publications like Fast Company, the Globe & Mail, and Canadian Business, and shared that content through our social media channels. When my book, Leading Through Language, was published a year ago, I did extensive interviews and used social media to connect with listeners around the world.

But despite all these efforts, we decided that to really do right by Twitter would require us to invest substantial time and energy - and doing so would take our team away from the actual work we do with clients. The result was our decision to shutter the account and continue to focus on building client relationships the old fashioned way: one conversation, one course, one coaching session at a time.

I can’t say whether social media is for you or your company - but I am happy to take a moment to share the lessons we learned through our 3-year foray into social media. One caveat: the lessons we learned may not apply to you or your business. They reflect the fact that our company focuses on business-to-business relationships, does its work in person, and has grown almost exclusively through word-of-mouth. We don’t expect this Twitter shut down to have much impact. Clients can still reach us through email, or even that archaic device, the phone. Whatever method we do initially connect, it’s likely that we’ll end up talking in person. If the last three years on social media have reinforced anything to us, it’s that the ability to actually speak to people never gets old.

(1) Lesson One: If you launch it, they won’t come.

(2) Lesson Two: To be heard on Twitter you must create content - which may require you and your team to spend less time actually doing what you love.

(3) Lesson Three: You can’t outsource Twitter and expect it to be meaningful.

(4) Lesson Four: Meaningful connections are still best forged in person.

There are many reasons why businesses, translation, brands, develop a social media presence. Some do so because the President/CEO thinks it may be necessary. For the more forward-thinking brands, they develop a digital footprint because there is a strategic social media plan, an alignment with the overall marketing plan, that features content that consistently reflects the brand's voice, positioning, and mission. Brands must also have personnel to create quality content on a consistent basis. Without these elements, a Facebook page, a Twitter page, an Instagram page, a LinkedIn page, etc., are simply not possible.

However, to quote Erik Qualman (@equalman on Twitter): "We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it."

What do you think? Have you stopped using one or more social platforms? Please chime in.



Image Credit: Twitter.



My thanks to Bart Egnal for the inspiration for this post. Bart can be found on Twitter at @THG_Bart, on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/bartegnal, his Amazon author page at https://www.amazon.com/Bart-Egnal/e/B014Q8YJV2/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1, and on his company's page at http://humphreygroup.com.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Want to Fly Free with Frontier Airlines? There's a Catch!


Frontier Airlines aims to become America’s Greenest Airline. Its fleet is 39% more fuel-efficient than its competitors, and it has been named the industry's most fuel-efficient airline by The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). While Frontier may be known as the green airline, the company's mission goes beyond the green logo and the menagerie of animals on its airplane tails.

Frontier's mission is evident in August 2019, with the launch of a memorable promotion. Frontier encourages everyone to live greener lives and invites everyone with the last name “Green” to fly for free on Tuesday, August 13, 2019.

According to Frontier's website (www.flyfrontier.com/deals/green): here's how to get a free flight on August 13, 2019:
(1) Confirm that your last name is Green or Greene
(2) Book a flight that departs on August 13, 2019
(3) Frontier will refund your trip!

There was small print, and it read as follows:

Individuals with the last name Green or Greene will be eligible to receive refunds for one way or round trip nonstop domestic travel on August 13, 2019. Flights must be booked on flyfrontier.com. Individuals who are eligible for this promotion will be refunded for round trip flights if both segments of travel are purchased on one PNR, the first segment departs between 12:00AM and 11:59PM on August 13, 2019, and the return segment arrives by 11:59PM on August 20, 2019. Eligible participants will receive a full refund, up to $400. Refunds will be rewarded to to the original booking contact person by September 15, 2019. (In the airline and travel industries, a passenger name record (PNR) is a record in the database of a computer reservation system that consists of the personal information for a passenger and his/her itinerary.)
Eligible participants in this promotion must have documentation that Green or Greene is legally their last name. Promotion is applicable only to individuals with the last name Green or Greene. Their immediate families (spouses, parents, children, siblings, and their respective spouses) are not eligible for this promotion if their last name is not Green or Greene.

Barry Biffle, President and CEO of Frontier Airlines, explained, “Our fleet’s fuel efficiency is unmatched by other U.S. airlines and allows Frontier to deliver not only the lowest fares but the most sustainable approach to flying. We are proud to serve communities across the U.S. and understand the importance of being good stewards of the environment. We’re focused on lessening Frontier’s impact on the environment and continually search for innovative solutions and technology to achieve that.”
 

Now the catch...upon hearing about this promotion last week, I sent a Tweet to Frontier Airlines and also tagged the brand on an Instagram post asking if my great-grandfather's name of "Green" would allow me to get a free ticket. Seven days after the Tweet and Instagram post, I still have not received any response from Frontier. The promotional campaign was well-executed and certainly memorable. But, what if I had not visited Frontier's website and read the small print? As those of us who understand social media and promote its benefits when it comes to customer service and customer experiences, this silence speaks volumes. At the very least, someone who monitors Frontier's digital footprint should have responded. Would your brand have responded to me?


Image Credit: Frontier Airlines and Instagram.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Leadership Is a Marathon, Not a 100-Yard Dash

Doug Dickerson, a leadership expert, trainer, and author first appeared on my Blog back in 2010, after I read his inspiring book, Leaders Without Borders: 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders. Doug has more than 30 years of experience in various leadership positions, and he strives to inspire others to become better equipped as leaders. You can find Doug on Twitter, on his Blog, and on his author page on Amazon. He appeared again on my Blog in 2018 when we discussed leadership priorities and leaders' legacies. With leadership always a hot topic, it's always a good time for another Q&A with Doug, and highlights follow below.

QUESTION: According to your bio on Amazon, one of your claims to fame is "to challenge one's traditional ways of thinking about leadership." Can you please elaborate with a few examples?
DOUG DICKERSON: Over the years, I've always tried to look at things from a different perspective rather than just traditional ways. For example, not long ago I wrote an article entitled "Sacred Cows and Breaking Rules." I wrote this article to challenge the traditional ways of looking at leadership. In the article, I make the case that we cannot hold onto our sacred cows in leadership if they are no longer relevant or when it hinders progress. There's no reason to hold onto sacred cows and traditions at the expense of progress just because our traditions mandate it. It's not about being contrary just for the sake of stirring things up, but rather in all things leadership, we need to constantly evaluate what we do, why we do it, and is it the best course of action for today. I like to challenge my own points of view, and I try to do the same for my readers.

QUESTION: What are three ways that modern-day leaders do not understand their employees?
DOUG DICKERSON: Possible reasons include:
(1) They are out of touch with their people. The point here is that relationships are essential to the connection between leaders and employees. If a leader is out of touch with his or her people, is not invested in the lives of his or her people, they will never fully understand him or her.
(2) They don't communicate. The modern-day leader needs to create and welcome an environment in which open, honest, and regular communication takes place.
(3) They don't understand that their employees want to feel that they are contributing and making a difference. They want to be recognized and appreciated for their contributions.

QUESTION: What three ways can modern-day leaders improve the overall employee experience?
DOUG DICKERSON: Here are my three ways:
(1) Regularly communicate values and vision and the importance of their role in fulfilling them.
(2) Be loyal and have their backs.
(3) Be approachable and stay humble.

QUESTION: What's your favorite leadership quote, and why?
DOUG DICKERSON: Actually it comes from a verse of Scripture found in James 1:19. The Message translation reads this way: "Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear." I like it because of how it speaks to the temperament of a leader in the following three ways: Listen more than you talk. Choose your words carefully. Be even-tempered. That's just good leadership advice.

QUESTION: If you could have dinner with any leader from history, who would it be and why?
DOUG DICKERSON: Winston Churchill. He was a remarkable leader during one of the most consequential times in history. He rallied the people to believe they could win (never, never, never give up!). He was inspiring. He was determined. He had his flaws. But it was his leadership and grit that changed the course of history and life as we know it today.

TWEET THIS: Leadership is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash. ~@DougDickersonSC

QUESTION: You wrote a recent blog post entitled, "Thriving Leadership in a Calloused World," and my favorite quote was "Leadership is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash." Can you please elaborate?
DOUG DICKERSON: Leadership growth and development is a lifelong journey. It's not one to be rushed. I also recently wrote that in leadership, especially among younger leaders, there’s a tendency or temptation to want to rush the process. They want to be at a place in leadership in two or three years that has taken 30 years for others. And while the motivation and desire are commendable, there are no shortcuts on the road to maturity.

As leaders, we are always growing (or should be) and always learning. If there ever comes a time when we think we know it all or have learned it all, then we have embraced that "100-yard dash" mentality. And in leadership, that's a dangerous place to be. With a "marathon" mentality, we understand that it truly is a journey. A journey of learning, growing, maturing, successes, failures, bumps, and bruises. The 100-yard dash is over quick. The marathon takes a while - and in leadership, we need to remember, it's a marathon.


My gratitude and appreciation to Doug for appearing again on my Blog and for sharing his inspiring leadership insights.


Articles referenced in this post:
A Review of “Leaders Without Borders: 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders” by Debbie Laskey
http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2010/10/review-of-leaders-without-borders-9.html

Tips to Develop Your Leadership Legacy by Debbie Laskey
http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2018/07/tips-to-develop-your-leadership-legacy.html

Sacred Cows and Breaking Rules by Doug Dickerson
https://www.dougdickerson.net/2019/06/19/sacred-cows-and-breaking-rules/

Thriving Leadership in a Calloused World by Doug Dickerson
https://www.dougdickerson.net/2019/06/03/thriving-leadership-in-a-calloused-world/

Image Credit: Doug Dickerson.