Open Letter to Santa Claus

Dear Santa,

It’s been a while since I have written, 35 years give or take and a lot has happened since my last letter.  I’m taller now, I’ve grown facial hair, some of that hair is now grey, I’ve gone to college, gotten married, had kids, and started a company.  Overall life has been pretty good since my last letter, it’s had its ups and downs, but overall it’s been a fairly decent life.  You might be scratching your beard wondering why after all these years that I’ve decided to break my silence and contact you.  I have a request for Christmas.  Just one.

For Christmas I would like the government to help small businesses everywhere, we have all watched over the past couple of years as Wall Street has had just about every kind of assistance possible.  We have watched the government bailout financial institutions, auto makers, make closed door agreements with unions and more, all while small businesses and entrepreneurs have suffered due to the failing economy, many of them closing their doors and calling it quits.  So this year for Christmas is for you to get congress to do the following:

  • Lower small business taxes to encourage hiring, advertising, capital investment and more
  • Ease the restrictions on small business loans
  • Wave expensive government fees for the year such as the $16,000 fee to the  FTC in order for a call center to call consumers nationwide
  • Waive income tax for businesses making less than $500,000 if they reinvest the funds into their business
  • Encourage the unemployed with skills to start their own businesses
  • Make research grants accessible to smaller businesses

Santa, I think this would be a good start, I think that small businesses deserve a break don’t you?  After all over 50% of all companies are small businesses.  Let’s create an atmosphere of success in the small business sector and help small businesses thrive because their success is beneficial to everyone.

Santa I know you have connections in Washington and I hope that you will take my request seriously.  Please give my regards to the elves and Rudolph.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Joe Melle and the Throttle Media Blog will return in January.

Stupid people need services too.

If you are a business executive or owner or in the sales and marketing end of a business than you most likely at some point dealt with a client that wasn’t the brightest M&M in the bag.  I mean let’s face it not every client or prospective client that we talk to is going to be rocking the Richter scale of intelligence.  I cannot tell you how many times I have given a client information about what they should not do when conducting a marketing campaign, and what do you think they do?  If you are thinking they did exactly what I advised them not to do, then bingo you just won dinner for two at the stupid people diner.

If most of you are like me, there are times that you wish you could just crawl through the phone line and beat the person on the other end in the head until they comprehend, but the odds are this would make them just that much simpler and you would be even more frustrated.  I have often considered putting a wet bar next to my desk so that when the stupid line rings I can pour a drink to help ease the intense frustration I know is going to take place.

Seriously though, we all go through this and as much as we would like to just point blank ask the person we are dealing with if they are really this stupid, we can’t.  One, stupid people have feelings too, so we don’t want them to feel bad, secondly it’s just downright bad for business because the stupid people have money to spend too, not to mention you don’t want to get a bad reputation.  So how does one deal with these people?  Well to start with besides not being able to smack them,  (I think that might be illegal in one or two states, not sure I have to check with legal) it’s not really a good idea to verbally abuse them either, and you don’t even want to infer that they are stupid or that you think their ideas are stupid.   The best way to deal with these clients is to take a deep breath, and calmly explain why what they are doing or what they want just doesn’t work, and as you know people don’t like to be told that their ideas stink, or that they don’t know what they are talking about, so follow this with an alternative of what will work, and why and try to get them to follow your common sense advice.

At the end of the day you cannot force the client to do anything; all you can do is give them the benefit of your expertise.  At Throttle Media we require clients to sign an expectation agreement so that they understand exactly how things work, and if they choose to ignore the advice that they are paying us for, we warned them in advance and have their signature on file stating so.  Whatever you do just remember that whatever the outcome, keep your temper in check, bite your tongue because you could end up losing the client, not to mention the bad reputation this could cause your business.

Do Not Call = Do Not Help Small Business Survive

Anyone who is in the call center industry in the U.S. knows that you can’t call consumers that have registered with the Do Not Call list and this is not a bad thing, because there is nothing worse than getting call after call from marketing companies that want to sell you something.  At one time it was so bad that some people stopped answering their home phone or in some cases were even forced to change their phone numbers.  The creation of the Do Not Call list aimed to change all of that, so that people who did not want to get unsolicited phone calls could opt out of all calls with the exception of companies that they actually do business with and this is a good thing.

The U.S.  Government came up with a fairly decent system of making call centers and marketing companies have to download the DNC list and scrub it against their calling database to remove all numbers on that list.  I think this is a good system.  Before they can do this they have to register with the Federal Trade Commission, who maintains the Do Not Call list, and get a Subscription Account Number knows as a SAN.  They need to either register for every area code they will be calling which costs $55 per area code per year or if you want to call nationally the cost is $16,000 per year.  This is where the U.S. government and I stop agreeing.  While I think the DNC is a great idea, and while I do not have a problem with charging companies to access the list, after all it costs money to maintain this list, I do have a problem with the exceedingly high cost to a business to be able to conduct national campaigns.  Small businesses cannot afford this cost of doing business, it is too high, and while I do not disagree with having a fee involved I think $16,000 is a bit much, don’t you?

The U.S. economy over the last few years has declined substantially and small businesses are suffering greatly, many have gone out of business and those that are still in business are struggling to keep their head above the water.  You would think that the government would be doing whatever they can to help small businesses stay in business and by lowering these fees to an affordable cost would help a lot of businesses.  The government has bailed out banks and automakers, why don’t they help small businesses?  During this period of this down trodden economy why doesn’t the government waive this fee as a way of encouraging and stimulating small business?  Just a thought.

Who’s your Daddy? It’s not GoDaddy.com

When writing this blog I make it a point to try not to complain or whine about things that I don’t like, like so many articles I read do, I make every attempt to make my articles informative.  But I am going to break my golden rule of complaining and whining today and do it anyway.

My company uses godaddy.com for its hosting and has for the last three years or so, we use them because they are inexpensive, and they don’t have an overage of technical issues, however I have a major issue with them.  Godaddy takes it upon themselves to determine what is spam and what is not and those emails that they determine are spam, they don’t allow to be delivered.  Now you don’t have to tell me that every host and ISP does this, I know this, after all I am the CEO of a company that offers Email Marketing services and I have over 15 years in that particular industry, but Godaddy goes beyond what everyone else does, they don’t just subscribe to the blacklists that everyone else does, they make their own rules.   They block emails based on content and they even block content based on attachments between a company’s internal email communications.

My company is currently in the process of creating a new updated website, and yesterday our programmer emailed me some files for me to approve and none of those emails came through to me based on the content of those files.  Exactly how was information sent internally on content for our website presenting any type of issue for anyone?  My issue is, who is Godaddy to make the decision of which emails I get and which I don’t get?  I pay them for hosting and email, should it not be my decision which emails or content we want blocked?  I wish I could say this was an isolated issue, but unfortunately it is not, this has happened several times in the past, both internally and with clients and vendors as well.

I understand the need to block certain content based on spam scores and reputations of domains and IP’s,  but this is taking things too far don’t you think?  As a company that is paying for a service shouldn’t we be making the decision of what gets through to our inboxes and what does not?  So you don’t think I just needed an audience I could whine to today, consider this, what if you were sending an important proposal to a client and the client never got it and due to this you lost a major contract? That might seem a bit extreme but not impossible, and even if you take it a step down and the email just wasn’t getting to them and you had to send it from your Gmail account instead of from your company email, doesn’t this make you look bad, unprofessional? I think it does.

So my message to Godaddy is quit meddling in our business affairs, we pay you for a service, let us decide what and who we want coming into our inbox.  I’m thinking of filing a complaint with Danica Patrick the Go Daddy Girl, maybe we can discuss this issue over dinner and drinks…..

Overcoming our Culture of Excuses – Guest Post – Alan Adler

Is our culture of excuses preventing businesses and organizations from thriving? Everywhere I go people tell me how the economy is keeping business from doing well and nonprofit leaders crying about how the economy is limiting their abilities. It is quit shocking to me that these same leaders are using the economy as their “excuse.” While no one can deny that the economy has caused challenges… the real culprits are ChangeChoice and Complexity. These three components, in aggregate, are responsible for a paradigm shift in US attitudes and behaviors. This phenomenon can be overcome if you accept that, whatever got you where YOU are today won’t take you to where YOU want to be in the future. It might be helpful to understand how this happened.

CHANGE is what we’ve lived through during the past 10 years, or as Time Magazine put it, “The decade from hell:”

  • The 9/11 Terrorist Attack
  • A War in Iraq
  • A War in Afghanistan
  • An Economic Crisis/Recession
  • A Banking Crisis
  • A Mortgage Crisis
  • A Housing Crisis
  • An Unemployment Crisis
  • An Energy Policy Crisis
  • A Conflicting Environmental Policy Crisis
  • A Generational Attitude Crisis in the Workplace… with four competing generations
  • A Technology Explosion (including use of the Internet)
  • The rise and use of Social Media

Ask yourself, are you the same person you were a year ago? If not, then how have you changed and how have others changed? How has your business or organization changed, to stay current? What got you where you are today won’t take you where you want to be in the future.

On top of all of this change, is CHOICE. To put it bluntly, we’re drowning in it… literally a sea of choice! As Sheena Iyengar states in her book, The Art of Choosing, “in 1994 there were 500,000 different consumer goods for sale in the United States. Today, there are more than 24 million.”

Have you shopped for Crest Toothpaste, lately? Finding the basic “regular” toothpaste or your personal brand preference can be very frustrating. You’ll have to sort through more than 33 variations; and those are just the adult choices!

The problem with so much choice is not limited to variety and price, there is another dimension… the immense growth in the number of businesses that market and distribute the choices available. According toEntrepreneur Magazine, the number of businesses has increased more than 31%, from 22.6 million in 2003 to more than 29.6 million in 2009.

COMPLEXITY has become a by-product of change and choice in that, relationships between customers and providers have grown more complex. Advances in technology have further exacerbated the complexity of relationships. As a further by-product, many new purchase channel options have become available, including increased usage of the Internet.

Take video rentals as one example. Just three years ago you had only one choice to rent a video…drive to the local video rental store. Today, there are five or more unique choices. It’s problematic and more difficult for businesses as well who are faced with managing the new distribution channels to keep up with consumer preferences.

This phenomenon can be tough to overcome, but can be done by:

  1. Sharpening your message
  2. Using “pull” vs. “push” marketing and sales strategies
  3. Providing outstanding customer experiences
  4. Combine the passion of intuition with the rigor of evidence.

 

Read about what progressive organizations are doing to overcome the challenging economy in the new bookGetting the Fish to Swim to YOU & Keeping Them in YOUR Boat… by Alan Adler. Inside are 160 strategies from documented case studies and 80 practices to avoid or stop that are working to attract and keep customers today and in the future. Follow Alan’s weekly blogs at www.gettingthefishtoswimtoyou.com.

 

Improving effectiveness is a matter of CHOICE!

 

Alan Adler is an award winning national marketing consultant, speaker, author, columnist and CRM pioneer. His new book Getting the Fish to Swim to YOU & Keeping Them in YOUR Boat: Marketing Wisdom to Attract & Retain Customers, is available at: www.gettingthefishtoswimtoyou.com.