Relationships Drive Business

Strengthening Customer Engagement to Propel Your Business

Long Time No See November 6, 2011

Filed under: Life in General,Strategy — Carla Bobka @ 9:22 pm

Hi,
It’s been a long time. A really long time. My last post was Sept 21, yikes.

 

I’m not going to make excuses. I could and you’d see right through them. Fact is, I’ve been taking the evenings off. The new job has me screaming busy all day, and when I get home all I want to do is talk to the kids and chill. And, dog gone it, it feels really good.

 

And I miss it. I miss the brain dump of thoughts. There’s a whole notebook on Evernote of blog post ideas. I just haven’t turned them into anything coherent yet.

 

So, I’m back. And the best way to ensure I stay back is to make a commitment. So here it is – I’ll blog 1-2 times a week. I’ll keep you updated on what’s happening in my world and in the parts of the marketing world that touch me.

 

Updates – remember the Groupon Goods adventure we talked about in Sept? It’s still pending. The deal hasn’t been signed yet. I’ve got product on both coasts. I’ve got shipping cartons standing ready and return policies to insert. IT has worked their magic so the nightly sales file records the sale properly. But there’s no deal signed between Groupon and the brand. Hurry up and wait has pretty much been the mantra.

 

Ditto on the other two new programs scheduled for Nov. launch. The complexities are fascinating. The myriad of partners still dizzying: front end developers, membership management vendor, fulfillment vendor, banking partner, payment gateway vendor, brand team, call center leadership x 2. And those are just the pieces I have interaction with. I don’t have visibility to the media partners, creative teams, manufacturing or finance.

 

What I’ve learned is nothing is simple. An IT now runs the world. Or at least it seems that way. Each of the partners mentioned above has an IT component. All those systems have to talk to each other. When they don’t, stuff doesn’t show up. The shipment doesn’t land on the front porch. The revenue doesn’t get to the bank. The product doesn’t appear on the website. It’s no wonder there are 9 conference call days every week.

 

AND I love it. I’m pretty sure I’m an adrenaline junkie. I like running at 160 mph. And I’ve got a killer team. They are so smart and capable and take so much initiative. They astound me. I don’t have to micro manage,they self organize.

 

Pretty much, I’ve landed in a great place. Great clients, great team. Fantastic products.

And I’m blogging again. That feels good. I will see you later this week. Promise

 

Crazy is as Crazy Does July 12, 2011

Filed under: Life in General — Carla Bobka @ 11:10 am
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Entries here this past week or so have been a little crazy.

 

We were in the midst of a series on mobile optimization with guest post-er Bob Watson, when Distinctive Gardens was named to AmEx OPEN’s Facebook Big Break.

 

Since then updates have been a mixed bag between the two. Its like having ADHD. Hopefully you don’t mind. 🙂

 

Here’s a taste of what’s to come:

  • Mobile – native vs. web apps, what you need to know
  • Distinctive Gardens – measuring impact on Big Break on their business
  • QR Codes – how does the funny looking ink slat impact mobile access to your business
  • Distinctive Gardens – video from Lisa

 

If you have questions for Distinctive Gardens, let me know. Jim, Bud and Lisa will be happy to answer. Just leave a note in comments.

~Carla

 

Memorial Day May 27, 2011

Filed under: Leadership,Life in General — Carla Bobka @ 9:53 pm
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This isn't my cemetary. It's in Franklin Township, Iowa. Writing this post I discovered I don't have a picture of Allen's Grove.

 

I just love Memorial Day Weekend.

It signals summer and a shift in schedules and cooking outside. Can’t you just smell the lighter fluid?

Most importantly it’s a collective moment to honor those who have given a piece of themselves, or all of themselves to fight for America.

Growing up we went to Allen’s Grove Cemetery for Memorial Day services. It was a family requirement, no excuses. And it was always beautiful and stirring. Our tiny, country cemetery was no more than an acre or so. In the middle of farm land, the plot of headstones surrounded by towering pine and oak trees. Generations of my family lie there along with those from other families in Scott County Iowa.

On Memorial Day the 2 drives going around the perimeter and through the center are lined with 300 full-size American flags. If you’ve ever wondered what the local Legion Post does, they put flags out on Memorial Day. And they plan the service.  We’d park along the highway with everyone else and walk in, through the quiet entrance marked with brick pillars and a wrought iron arch.

First thing we’d greet who ever else was there, neighbors, aunts and uncles. Gramma always rode with us. Then a walk over to our section. Headstones for Grampa, Dennis, the great Aunties and Uncles. My parents spot. (still empty, thank God.) The littlest cousins would ask who each stone was for and how they were related to them.  It’s how they know where they come from and where they belong in the world.

Then the service would start and we’d all look for a patch of shade. I don’t remember any of service in particular. All of them included a speaker, a story of bravery and heartbreak, Taps, 21 gun salute, and the silent folding of one flag by gray-haired, white gloved vets. By then the kids were fidgety, the sun was high and gnats were swarming. Then it was picnic time at Gramma’s. It was as though the folding of that flag signaled the beginning of summer and all that it brings.

God Bless every person who fought for our freedom. And the families they left behind. You are who has made us who we are. Thank you.

P.S. – In writing this I realized I don’t have a picture of Allen’s Grove in it’s Memorial Day splendor. Neither does my Mom. The image above was the closest I could find to what it looks like. Mom’s taking the camera along on Monday.

 

 

Google’s Sucker Punch May 20, 2011

Filed under: Ideas,Life in General,Strategy — Carla Bobka @ 6:52 pm
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Google is doing a global release of social search. Sixteen languages at once. Sounds like lots of sleepless nights and RedBull in Silicon Valley.  Social search will put links from your friends at the top of your search results. It will be more friendly or like friends have recommended certain things.  (Mashable article and Google’s How it Works video.)

Facebook is mad

Facebook is really worried about (or scared or mad about) Google’s social search tool. So much so that they hired a PR firm to bad mouth it. Most people I know consider what they did playing ugly. They got caught. But, I don’t expect that bothers them.

I don’t spend much time thinking about the soap opera unfolding between the Silicon Valley neighbors. I’m more interested in how social search effects me. This whole thing got me thinking about how I use search in different contexts. Google vs. Facebook.

  1. Google is a search Master. It searches everything. I expect them to include social.
  2. Facebook search is 2 things – it searches page/profile names within Facebook and it uses Bing to bring up a handful of web-wide results, way down at the bottom of the page.

Here is how I use each one.

My browser’s default search engine is set to Google. If someone else sneaks me over to Ask.com or Yahoo.com I go back and re-search on Google. A recent update to my Weather.com desktop app snuck in a change to Ask.com as my default search engine. (Despite UNchecking the box during installation.) I change it back to Google. And BTW – I think less of Weather.com because they tried to pull a fast one.

When I’m on Facebook I search for pages and profiles and apps within Facebook. I’m not looking for web-wide results. Bing puts a few options at the bottom, but I hardly ever click on them. Why? Because I’m looking for a Facebook Page. The only time I ever click through to the Bing result is if I’m frustrated at not finding the particular page on Facebook, so I go to the company’s website in hopes there’s a link back to Facebook there.  It is hard to find the right page within Facebook. Yesterday I searched for a local boutique called Polka Dots. There are dozens of Facebook Pages called Polka Dots. They were all dead ends. I searched over and over. I never did find it. So when stats say Facebook search is  the #2 search tool, I question why. My experience is that it’s because it’s so hard to find the right thing. (Of course that’s because so many businesses set up their page based on local thinking, and Facebook is a global platform.)

How do you use the search functionality within Facebook?

 

 

 

One Wild Year April 29, 2011

 

Tomorrow, April 30, 2011, is SocialPie’s anniversary. Thanks to all of you for coming along for the ride.

Lots has happened in the last year. Not just with SocialPie, but in every part of life. Here’s a look at handful of milestones:

1. I’ve written 52 newsletters and 142 blog posts.
2. I’ve built 29 Facebook Pages, given 8 speeches and tweeted a bazillion times.
3. SocialPie was hired by real customers to write social media strategies, and I love doing it.
4. I became a Great Aunt.
5. My husband got a job after 18 months of unemployment. He loves it, despite the commute.
6. Our dear friends,Jay and Doreen celebrated their 20st Anniversary. The pic above is from the surprise party we threw them.

Share your story. What happened to you in the last 12 months?

 

 

 

Favs this Week – April 18 thru 22 2011 April 24, 2011

Filed under: Ideas,Life in General,Resources — Carla Bobka @ 6:37 pm
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People ask me how I keep up on changes happening on social platforms. It is hard for sure. There’s no way to read everything, there’s just too much information.

Below are things I’ve read over the prior week that have struck me as important or influenced my thinking. You’ll see the link and 1 sentence about what struck me in the post. Take a closer look if something sounds interesting.

Thanks to Duct Tape Marketing for the idea.

This week:

The Cummins Blog – my sister writes this blog to capture the craziness and funny moments of her brood of kids. She has 6. Five are adopted. Four were foster – adoptions. Two are African American. One is a dwarf. Two are girls. Four are boys. One is getting married in June. One is 6.

I just finished reading “Graceful” by Seth Godin. Recommended reading, for sure. One line that really got me was about anxiety: “Anxiety is experiencing failure in advance.” Wow. I’m not anxiety prone, but I certainly have moments of it. Not any more, I’m going to only face failure when it actually shows up.

 

This year I’m trying to get my head around SEO. Not to do it professionally, but to do it better for the benefit of SocialPie. This post from ReadWriteWeb helps.  How to Optimize Your FAcebook Page for Search Engines.

 

Here’s another from ReadWriteWeb on mass customization. They claim it’s for real this time. I’m skeptical. I’ve had a pair of “custom” jeans on order since Jan 10. We are on the 3rd fitting and they still aren’t anywhere near being comfortable. And it’s taken 4 months. If that’s the future, it’s not for me. Do you think it is for you (as business person and as consumer)? Let me know your thoughts on this one.

 

Have a great weekend. I’ll be outside watching for spring to arrive.

 

Homeland Security: Your Facebook Friend April 23, 2011

Terrorist threats will now be posted to Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes. When appropriate.

The Department of Homeland Security has announced that one way they will inform the public of terror alerts is by using social media. They will only bother with the biggies – Facebook and Twitter.

Take the word to the people, where the people spend their time. What do you think? Read more from the Associated Press article here.

Personally, I have a lot of questions.

Overall, I think it is potentially a good idea. AND it needs to be carefully planned. Otherwise it will nuts. Or invisible.

First question:  How? Here’s what I mean. On Facebook I get updates from friends in my newsfeed. Do I need to be a friend of Homeland Security to get that update? (I’d hope they would consider me a friend without my opting in.)

Maybe there will be an update window pop open as soon as I log into Facebook:

“Please read this important message from the Dept. of Homeland Security:  Terror Alert Elevated. Travelers through U.S. airports are asked to be extra vigilant from May 5-6. Click here to tell your friends.”

Do you suppose it will pop up on my phone when I open my Facebook mobile app? Hmm…

Now Twitter. Do I need to follow @HomelandSecurity so I get the tweet? Problem #1 – That user name doesn’t exist. People use it; they just type it in. But it isn’t anyone’s account.

@DHSJournal exists, and it is a verified account for Department of Homeland Security. The account has 32,698 followers. But honestly, if I saw a tweet like “@DHSJournal Travelers be cautious in US airports May 2-4” I don’t think it would register with me as a terror alert. Maybe they could let @LadyGaga know. She has 9,489,232 followers. That way her people could talk to the people.

The other thing is, we’ve seen hoaxes on Twitter. Big ones. Remember the boy who supposedly floated away in a homemade aircraft. The one that looked like a Jiffy Pop pan? I sure hope Twitter execs are in on how this is going to work.

So far I haven’t seen any details about how it will work. I’ve got my fingers crossed they are working on that.

Do you have any ideas on how to do this in an effective way?  Drop me a note in the comments section.