Do you have meetings about what to have meetings about?

Do you feel like you have meetings about what to have meetings about? During important meetings do you find yourself drifting away and daydreaming about the place you really wished you were at?  You are not alone.  According to American professionals attend on average nearly 62 meetings per month and that 50% of the time spent in meetings is wasted.  Bob at productivity hacks thinks that it is more like 90% and I am inclined to agree with him.  Meetings for the most part are a huge waste of time and drain on resources and most of the time they accomplish absolutely nothing.

Years ago I worked for G.E.  Capital and while it was a great company to work for and my memories of those years for the most part are positive ones, one thing that  I noticed while working  there was the never ending  flow of meetings.  With several hundred people on the floor of the call center  it was not unusual for it to be a difficult thing to find a manager on the floor.  Why?  Because they were in meetings, sometimes all day.  I have found that meetings rarely accomplish what you had hoped it would, and in my opinion it’s not unusual for a meeting accomplish nothing.   Don’t get me wrong, meetings are a necessity in business, having a Monday morning staff meeting to discuss the weeks agenda is useful and comes in handy and morning sales meetings often motivate sales people to go out there and hustle and to bring in the sales.  But most meetings are counterproductive, think about your last hour long meetings, you got there at 8, you talked to a couple of your coworkers about football for 10 minutes, the person holding the meeting was late, when they finally got there at 8:10, it took them around five minutes to get organized and the meeting finally started, and lo and behold someone brought something up completely off subject and the meeting went in a direction other than its purpose,  the meeting ended at 9 and all in all about 15 minutes was spent actually discussing the actual topic of the meeting, so about 45 minutes of time was actually wasted.

Let’s do some basic math, as of 2010 G.E. had around 113,000 U.S. employees so let’s say only 15 minutes is wasted in three meetings a week (like that few meetings is possible) which is 45 minutes x 113,000 per week equaling 5,085,000 minutes.   Now let’s say the average employee is making $40,000 a year which  is around $19.23 an hour which means that a wasted 45 minutes a week is costing the company $14.42 a week per employee times 113,000 equals just over $1.6 million dollars a week,  which is a staggering $84 million dollars per year.

Now that might be a dramatic example, but the point is a lot of resources are wasted in meetings, resources that could be put to good use elsewhere.  I believe that managers belong on the floor, the field, or wherever their employees are, not stuck in a room discussing some policy that nobody really gives a damn about.  Let managers manage, let policy makers make policy.  You dig?

B2B Telemarketing, still a viable strategy?

We all remember the days when B2B telemarketing campaigns were at the top of the business marketing dog pile, whereas today these calls are few compared to B2B telemarketing’s heyday in the 80’s and 90’s.  What happened?  Technology is what happened, as the Internet became the number one source of marketing there were fewer reasons to use telemarketing as a marketing tool.  Today we have so many digital marketing options available to us; Email Marketing, Search Engine Marketing and Optimization, Banner Advertising, and Social Media all which can measure results and have proven their effectiveness.  That being said why would any business ever consider using a call center to conduct B2B marketing?  Because nobody else is….

Everyday people get slammed with emails, and banner ads, and Tweets and LinkedIn messages from companies who all have something to sell, most of us don’t even pay attention to the majority of these commercial messages because there are just so many of them.  How many of you received a phone call yesterday about a business product or service?  How about the day before that?  Last week?  Most of you can probably answer none, or very few and the reason for that is obvious because everyone is concentrating on marketing digitally and telemarketing is an outdated and old fashioned way to market.  The fact that nobody is doing it and that very few B2B sales are being placed is the reason why you should consider it.  I am not suggesting that you stop using digital marketing; I am suggesting that you include telemarketing as part of your overall strategy in combination with digital marketing.  The fact that  businesses are not getting tons of calls means that by calling you just might get their attention, especially if you are using it as part of a larger strategy in combination with Email, PPC,  a Webinar, Social Media,  etc.

While B2C telemarketing is huge, B2B has died down over the years and that means it might just be the edge you need to close more deals.  Telemarketing is also a good way to drive attendance to an event such as a Webinar, and think about how many times you have seen an email or post on Facebook or LinkedIn that you found interesting and had planned on following up on, but just never got around to it, that follow up phone call just might be the push that is needed to close the deal.

Evolution or death.

In today’s business world things change so often that it is very difficult to keep up, just as you think you understand how things work, everything changes.  The business world today is constantly changing, constantly evolving, and in order for a business to survive it must be dynamic and able to change along with the external environment in which it exists.  In the last few years technology has surpassed all our expectations from smart phones that allow us to do everything from sending and receiving faxes to video conferencing to the vast dynamics of Web 2.0 and as a business we need to embrace this technology and we need to change how we operate as a business allowing for the change and evolution that is constantly taking place.

Many don’t like change, believe me I know I am not real big on it myself, but not all change is bad and technology is one of those changes that is a good thing for business.  We need to embrace technology because it offers us so much, it allows us to work smart, not hard and for small businesses it offers us opportunities that didn’t exist in the past.  As a small business today you can create relationships all over the globe using social media, you can have customers across the country as easily as across the street; technology has made all of this possible.  I have heard the argument that small mom and pop businesses don’t need all this technology that while it may benefit larger businesses, that it doesn’t really affect small local businesses, such as hair dressers, boutiques, and the array of small businesses one would find in every small town and neighborhood across the country.  I completely disagree; small businesses need this technology just as much as anyone else, to begin with some small businesses now have the opportunity of doing business outside the physical area in which they exist.  Obviously this doesn’t apply to every small business, a barber needs to have a physical relationship with his customers, so then why embrace this technology?  My answer is why not?  Why not use social media to stay connected to your customers, to ensure they stay your customers, and why not use this to create new customers in your immediate area.  Remember if you are not doing it, you can bet your competitor probably is.

Not all your customers are shopping online.

We live in a world where technology rules just about everything that we do and as advertisers we embrace that technology because it affords us marketing opportunities that never before have we seen the likes of; from Search Engine Marketing and Optimization to Email Marketing to Social Media the world is now at our fingertips and getting to our customers has never been easier or more efficient.  The majority of consumers are not only online but are shopping online, it’s better to shop online than to stand in line is the mentality of most people.

While this new world of technology we live in is terrific for business, businesses need to realize that while the majority are online,  not all are; there is a small percentage of adults who are not online, and granted it is a small percentage in today’s world, but they do exist.  Also there are those that are online but are not comfortable purchasing online because they don’t feel it is safe.  Don’t get me wrong this is a small minority, but regardless it is important as a business that we not forget about them, because those minorities’ sales still add up, and the loss of those sales would still have an adverse effect on the bottom line.  Depending on what type of business that you are in, it’s a good idea to have an offline purchase option; if you are a retailer, allowing people to print the order form and providing them an address to send it to may keep those that don’t wish to purchase online as part of your customer base.

While online advertising is definitely the best way to reach the masses, keep some options open for traditional advertising such as direct mail, T.V. and Radio and any other venue that you traditionally have used to reach your customer.  Again, while they may be the minority do you really want to turn away customers with money in hand?

All Hail Facebook, The King of Internet Marketing

Traditionally advertising has always been a push strategy, which is a fairly simple concept; a push strategy is as the name suggests; it is pushing your product directly to the customer via various mediums which traditionally were T.V., Radio, and print, trade shows, etc.  With the advent of the Internet the push strategy was still in play by using email marketing, banner advertisements, etc., these still used the same concept.  Even SEO originally used a push strategy using various technologies to push products to end users, but then things started to change and SEO gravitated to a pull strategy.   A pull strategy is the opposite of a push strategy in the sense instead of pushing a product out to a customer; the goal is to pull the customer in by motivating them to actively seek out your brand or product.   The Internet has given consumers access to a plethora of information, creating well informed consumers who come armed with information and know exactly what they want and that has changed how we market.

Then came social media which not only changed how we market but completely changed the concept of marketing and advertising completely.  Unlike traditional advertising, including traditional Internet marketing, social media created relationship marketing which instead of looking at just the short term sale that many traditional advertising looked at it considers the long term and its purpose is to create customer loyalty through interaction and relationships.  Social Media is completely redefining how we do business, we no longer just sell our products, we have to market ourselves as a company and even the individuals within the company.  Social media has had the most dramatic increases in advertising that we have ever seen and of course Facebook is at the forefront of this dynamic new concept of marketing.

In just two short years the increases in Facebook advertising is nothing short of spectacular; in 2009 U.S. businesses spent just over $500 million dollars advertising on Facebook and that number more than doubled the following year to $1.2 billion and this year is forecasted to hit $2.1 billion and $2.8 billion in 2012.  If these numbers hold true the increase between 2009 and 2012 will be over 400% in the U.S. and almost 700% worldwide.

In 2009 the total online advertising revenue in the U.S. was over $22 billion, of which Facebook had 2.4% of that total and in 2010 they had 4.7% and it is estimated that it will be 7.7% this year and 8.8% by 2012.  This is incredible for just one company to have such a large portion of online advertising.

Facebook has over 500 million users, it is estimated that Google has 300 million users and Facebook is less expensive than Google with the PPC rate below $1.  I am not a Google basher, actually I am quite fond of Google, but Search Engine Marketing is being left in the dust compared to Social Media.

It is obvious that Social Media is here to stay and that it is and has changed how businesses market themselves, and that Facebook is king of the heap, however I would like to caution people to not put all their eggs in one basket and not to depend on any one company for advertising regardless of how successful they are.  Remember MySpace?