Meerkat Cheat Sheet

Meerkat home page

Keep seeing “Meerkat” pop up in your social media feeds? Wondering if you need to care? Here’s a quick cheat sheet to give you some background:

http://meerkatapp.co

What is it? Live streaming video that people can watch from any device. Using the app, the Meerkat website says you can start the stream with one click and it appears instantly on Twitter.

The “Rules of Meerkat” page provides a few additional details:

  • Everything that happens on Meerkat happens on Twitter.
  • Streams will be pushed to followers in real time via push notifications.
  • People can only watch it live. No reruns.
  • Watchers can restream any stream to their followers in real time.
  • Scheduled streams will be distributed in the community by their subscribers.
  • Your own streams can be kept locally on your phone, but never on the cloud.
  • Everyone can watch on web.
  • Be kind.

The Meerkat website is awe-inspiring in its simplicity (see the screenshot above). In a world of so many overly complex business models, this is a fantastic example of how simplicity wins. Meerkat certainly won SXSW this year, with a little help from Twitter.

Who created it? Ben Rubin is being credited as the founder of Meerkat, a side project that took off in just the last few months. He’s worked on several start-up ventures and spent some time at Intel (Ben’s Public LinkedIn Profile).

Why it should matter to marketers? Because it combines Twitter and video in a way that wasn’t possible before. Think of all the situations where you might live tweet an event or create and post a video. Now, if you want to, you can combine those two things in a live video feed. Econsultancy did a nice post of eight ways brands might want to use Meerkat, including:

  • Live product demonstrations
  • Live events
  • Live interviews
  • Live product launches

Read the full post here.

I never think new apps are going to explode as fast as other people think they will, but I am often wrong. Are you planning to use Meerkat in your professional life? How?

Dale Carnegie – Still Relevant

How to Win Friends and Influence People

I’m a big believer in revisiting the classics. Even if they feel a little outdated, often the main lessons are still valuable. So, case in point, I decided to listen to the audio book of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

If you aren’t in sales or if just haven’t heard of it, here is a little background from Wikipedia:

  • Dale Carnegie (November 24, 1888 – November 1, 1955) was an American writer and the developer of popular courses in salesmanship, public speaking, and interpersonal skills.
  • Born into poverty on a farm in Missouri, he moved to New York City where he taught evening classes at a YMCA and eventually wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (1948), Lincoln the Unknown (1932), and several other books.
  • Many people have heard of Dale Carnegie through the training courses that still bear his name (http://www.dalecarnegie.com).

As I listened my way through the book, I had three distinct “impressions” of Carnegie’s approach.

Don’t be a jerk

It is hard to read this book and not think, “Ah, this is where the sales person learned that.” You become hyper aware of all the different tactics every sales person has ever used on you… e.g. asking questions to get you to talk about yourself, getting to yes-yes, etc. But above all else, Carnegie’s primary focus is treating everyone kindly and with respect. It seems obvious now – don’t be a jerk and you’ll win friends and influence people – but back in 1936, his approach shaped everything we now take for granted about how to treat angry customers and how to approach challenging sales situations.

Listening/reading the book almost 100 years later, I was struck by how some of his advice has been taken out of context. For example, we have all experienced pushy sales people who are so focused on asking you questions and trying to get you to say yes, that the interaction feels fake and pressured. Carnegie would have pointed out that they forgot to listen, and would have stressed the importance of putting the other person’s needs before your own (i.e. putting the customer experience first).

Overall, the book is a pleasant reminder not to be a selfish jerk, which led me to my next question…

But what if you have to deal with jerks?

In an age where we have public discourse about bullying, this book seems to have little or no examples of sticking up for yourself or standing your ground. In fact, it seems to go very far in the opposite direction – constantly encouraging the reader to consider every situation from the other person’s point of view, no matter how difficult, mean, or aggressive that person is being. Carnegie gives multiple examples of how to have difficult discussions without angering the other person, often by using passive aggressive language.

About half way through the book, this started to feel like a huge hole to me. In a professional environment, particularly as a female, I don’t like the idea of being indirect, passive, or of avoiding conflict to make the other person happy. At first glance, Carnegie could be interpreted as telling us to avoid rocking the boat, that only nice people get ahead, and that making everyone happy is the path to success. But by the end of the book, I decided that wasn’t his point at all…

Jerks are people too

When you consider How to Win Friends and Influence People in its totality, Carnegie isn’t pushing specific sales tactics (though they are too often used in isolation) and he isn’t suggesting that we should all remove our spines to make others happy. Instead, I believe he’s encouraging us to remember the humanity of the person sitting across the table from us, regardless of how difficult that may be. I’m sure this sounds overly dramatic, but I’m wondering if Carnegie has more in common with Gandhi than a top sales person. What would the world be like if in every situation we ignored our ego, stopped trying to be right, and considered the other person’s point of view? I bet we’d all have more friends…

“If you treat people with dignity, respect and friendliness, you can turn enemies into friends. An enemy is nothing but a friend in disguise.” – Ted Turner on Master Class

 

 

Congrats, Rosebud Restaurants

Great email subject line

Congratulations, Rosebud Restaurants.  You may have written one of the best email subject lines of all time. You have my attention.

What makes a good email subject line? Out of curiosity, I tried to find an email subject line “hall of fame”.  I was unsuccessful, so if you can find one, please let me know.  In the example above, it is a perfect subject line for me because:

  1. It is short – I got the point in one glance at my phone
  2. It made me chuckle – because I agree, not because it was stupid
  3. It is topical – it has been a terrible winter
  4. It is targeted – I love wine and believe wine dinners do help
  5. It does not have an exclamation point – seriously, can we prove that an exclamation point results in more click-through? Because if not, let’s all calm down

There seems to be a million different formulas for drafting a good email subject line.  Here are some resources to get you started:

HubSpot: Best Email Subject Lines: HubSpot gets it done again.  They tend to create HUGE volumes of marketing content, so while a lot of it is worth reading,  some of it isn’t.  They are also masters of repurposing content (as they did with this list, if you read all the way to the end).  But keeping that in mind, I agree with most of their Best Email Subject Lines List.  The two I would remove: #5 and #17.

15 Email Subject Line Formulas That Work: I love how straightforward and not gimmick-y these are.  In many industries, it is critical to develop a trusting relationship with your customers.  Tricking a potential customer into opening an email from you does not build trust.  Using a well crafted subject line does. Note: If you read the full article you’ll see that they believe in company newsletters.  I am not sold, but we’ll save that for another blog post.

Recycled Phrases: Above all else, Rosebud’s subject line made me open the email because it was relevant to me – on a crappy winter day, wine makes me happy.  If I did not enjoy wine, or if it was not winter, I would not have opened the email.  The next time you are tempted to write a “cute” subject line without regard to your target audience, please read Recycled Phrases and ask yourself what Linzie Hunter would do with it.  Marketing should never been spam.  But at least Linzie figured out a way to turn spam into art.

Forgotten your New Year’s Resolution yet?

March 2015

How are your New Year’s Resolutions going?  Have you forgotten them or have you made progress?  March is a great time to spend a few minutes checking in with yourself – here are some questions to ask:

How am I doing? Whatever your answer – be honest and try very hard not to judge yourself.  It is too easy to give up just because you haven’t made as much progress as you would like (or no progress at all). If you are doing really well, celebrate that.  If you are not, pat yourself on the back for revisiting your resolution and continue with the other questions listed here.

Am I on track?  Hopefully, when you made your resolutions at the beginning of the year, you also made a plan to achieve them.  No matter how simple (“stick to two cups of coffee each day”) or how complicated (“start a business”), if you have a plan, then you know if you are tracking to that plan or not.  If you are doing really well, celebrate that.  If you are not, pat yourself on the back for revisiting your plan, adjust as necessary, and continue with the other questions listed here.

What issues are standing in my way? Any plan, goal, or resolution is going to have challenges.  What can you do to make the going easier/more productive/more effective?  For a lot of people, the size of the resolution is the problem.  Big steps are easy to delay.  Break down your goal in to as many micro-movements as possible… even if you only write two sentences a day, eventually your novel will be complete.

Are these still the right resolutions?  Let’s remember that everything we learned in our business classes about sunk costs, nimble business models, and responding to a changing market place also applies to our personal lives.  If your resolution isn’t working for you – don’t beat yourself up, just stop doing it.  Create new goals that address your life now, and better yet, the life you see yourself living in 2016.  Then get excited about moving in that direction.

Are you noticing a theme? This post is a great example of teaching what you most need to learn (Richard Bach never seems to get enough credit for saying that).  I am extraordinarily good at beating myself up for not perfectly completing each step of my plan, or for not creating the perfect plan, or for not being ahead of the plan, etc etc etc.  The best way I have found to break that habit is to CELEBRATE.  Celebrate small steps of progress.  Celebrate your flexibility when there is a change in plan.  And celebrate how well you bounce back when you miss a step.  I’m not saying we all deserve participation trophies for showing up at work each day, but for those of us who have spent years beating ourselves up over imperfection, training our brain to be comfortable with the process of working towards a goal is an incredibly useful skill.

Need some resources? (of course you do):

A little inspiration from Twitter: https://twitter.com/hashtag/habits

http://lauravanderkam.com/best-of/ – I’ll be doing some posts on her work in the future, but her “best of” page is a great way to browse through her content.

http://gettingthingsdone.com/fivesteps/ – David Allen… because he literally wrote a book called “Getting Things Done.”

http://blog.kimberlywilson.com/2006/06/hip-tranquil-chick-podcast-36-hip.html and http://blog.kimberlywilson.com – I’ve followed Kimberly Wilson for almost a decade.  She won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m continually amazed by how much she accomplishes each week and by her business savvy, despite the girly/yoga persona she has created.

Where else do you look for inspiration? How do you stay on track with your resolutions?

Happy Employees or Happy Customers – Which Comes First?

starbucks-654727_1280

In school, you discuss employee morale in HR courses and customer morale in Marketing courses. Should they really be separate?

Howard Schultz of Starbucks said: “We built the Starbucks brand first with our people, not with the consumers. Because we believed that the best way to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers was to hire and train great people, we invested in employees.”

For me, Starbucks has always been top-of-mind when I think about how powerfully employees (HR) impact an overall brand experience (marketing). Starbucks’ leadership seems to be very focused on a simple equation – happy employees + clear brand direction + consistently good product = happy loyal (addicted) customers. Very early on, Starbucks was known for the benefits they gave to all employees – part time included. But beyond health insurance, the company leadership has created a culture of support, highlighted by Steve Cooper in 2012 and by Dr. Noelle Nelson in her book “Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy”. Several years ago, Starbucks executives visited their coffee shops and noticed that even good employees were sometimes losing their tempers when faced with agitated customers. Instead of coming down on the individual employees, they developed new training material that eliminated the stress of these situations. The executives at Starbucks found what was making their employees unhappy and empowered them with the support they needed to put a smile back on their faces.

Interestingly, Apple also knows that keeping its talent happy is critical to keeping its customers happy. The tech giant is known for industry leading product design, and its executives understand that Apple’s reputation hinges on retaining the best and brightest minds in the industry. What do bright minds need? New challenges. Enter Apple Car. There is a ton of talk about whether or not an Apple car makes sense (Read for a quick overview: http://www.cnbc.com/id/102455350#.), but I’ve been paying attention to the story because I’m interested in the rumors that the Apple car project is a practical way for Apple to keep its best talent from being poached by Tesla and other hot companies. An uber expensive, high-profile project just to keep your best employees? Why not? After all, would Apple be Apple without those people?

So which comes first – the happy employee or the happy customer? Is one more important than the other? I think the Starbucks and Apple examples suggest that happy employees are critical to the long-term happiness of your customers.

Though it seems pervasive, not every business leader believes “the customer is always right”. As an account executive, I very clearly remember the first time my manager took my side in a discussion and said the client was wrong. It was so empowering. That isn’t to say that we didn’t want a happy, satisfied client – that is always the goal. But my manager also cared about me, so I felt supported and able to deal with the challenge.

As marketers, we’re taught to stay laser focused on the customer experience. Let’s not forget that our own experience within the company is a critical piece of that puzzle.

What other companies are good at this? Who should we be watching?