Relationships Drive Business

Strengthening Customer Engagement to Propel Your Business

Four Ways Oprah Uses Email September 21, 2011

Oprah uses email marketing to engage with her fans even now that she’s not on TV.


What other media mogul do you know that gave out their personal email address on national TV? She gave it out during the very last show. The one where it was just her on stage for an hour saying goodbye after 25 years. Go ask your girlfriends, I bet they heard it, to.  I emailed her, that put me on her email list. Since then I’ve gotten a few emails from her. They read like Oprah talking, not like Oprah advertising.


O uses my email address judiciously. I have the sense she feels privileged to have it. She’s careful not to abuse the relationship.

There are 4 things Oprah does with email.

  1. Takes interest in my world – she asks how things are going.
  2. Updates on her – She tells me what she’s been up to
  3. Asks about 1 thing – She’ll ask my opinion on 1 topic
  4. No sell – She’s never asked me for money.


And BTW – she never uses a belittling Subject Line. There’s no “10 things you don’t know about X.” Her typical Subject line is “Happy 4th of July,” or “The next right decision.”  It’s respectful.


The opposite is true of another self-made millionaire who has an entrepreneur’s conference coming up in Dallas. I’m registered to go, but honestly I tuned out her emails 6 months ago. So much so, I can’t even tell you who the keynote speaker. Every email she sends is her trying to reach into my pocketbook to pad her own.  “Upgrade your registration for exclusive access” or “advertise my stuff to your friends.” It got old after email #2. She’s clearly only interested in how much money she can get out of me and my network.


Oprah has a lot to sell. Can you imagine trying to start a network? That’s a B-I-G job. In her email in August she said flat out it’s 10x harder than she thought it would be. And yet she’s never begged me to watch or asked me to buy an ad. She’s asked me what I think of a show. I mean, I know she’d like me to watch, sure. But she’s using my email the same way a girlfriend would – by asking my opinion and telling me a bit about her life.


I don’t have any friends who ask for money every time we talk.


Who else do you know who uses email really well?



Grabbing Your Community by the Heart July 19, 2011

There's nothing better than community.


Today is the final day of voting for American Express Open’s Facebook Big Break for Small Business. The clock stops ticking at midnight eastern time.


The tiny community of Dixon, Il and their neighbors are pulling out all the stops to help Bud and Jim at Distinctive Gardens win. You can vote here, if you haven’t already.


Here’s the comment stream on the pic. Would your neighbors do this for you? Just fantastic.


Want to go to a Big Break Party July 6, 2011

Distinctive Gardens has planned a big blowout party to tell their local community about being chosen as a American Express OPEN Facebook Big Break finalist.


Here’s the community invite:

Big Break Big Bash Invite


Lisa and Bud are having a band, booze and buffet to welcome their guests and launch the fun.  This Prezi is all they have seen so far.


I SO wish I could be there. Philly is just too darn far from Dixon, IL. What do you think their friends will say?


UPDATE, July 7 2011

Here’s coverage from their big party. The pavilion at the garden center is gorgeous. It looks like Bud is standing on a table, LOL.



A Birthday Gift from Anthopologie February 24, 2011

Filed under: Case Study — Carla Bobka @ 6:32 pm
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What do you think of my special birthday treat from Anthropologie?


Everybody Celebrates February 8, 2011

Facebook is a great place to share honors and accomplishments. Your fans will be thrilled for you and so will family and friends.
When you have a Facebook Page and you personal profile it can be confusing when you think about where to share first.  I believe in simple, so here’s what I recommend.
Share on your Page first. Then hit the share button on that post and tell your friends and family. Here’s what happens:
  1. Your fans find out.
  2. You don’t have to switch screens to share with your friends and family.
  3. Your friends see a picture of you next to your post, and they see that you have a business Page.
Believe it or not, at least some of your family has no idea you have a business Page. Actually, some of them probably have no idea what you do for a living. By posting in the order of Page/profile you help them understand that stuff a little bit better. Once they do there’s a chance they will help spread the word about your business.
Keep in mind this is for news and events that are worthy of sharing with both groups of people. Not every post to your business Page is worth sharing with your profile. Be judicious in what you make show up in your friends and family newsfeed.
What do you think? How do you share when you have news that’s so great you want everyone to know?

Joe Namath Blogs November 16, 2010

Filed under: Case Study,Ideas — Carla Bobka @ 2:36 pm
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Life after football leads to blogging. At least it does for All-star, All-American, Football Hall of Famer Joe Namath.

Last month Broadway Joe started blogging. He posts a couple days each week, talking about football, especially topics related to the Jets and Alabama’s Crimson Tide.

Keep it simple – most of his posts are video, it works best for his style. He saves the typing for Facebook. If you’re a huge Crimson Tide or Jets  fan, you can get your very own pre-game analysis from one of the legends. There’s no stat guy, just Joe telling you how the day’s match up stacks up, and what he’d worry about if he was suited up.

Joe’s on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, too.

He has 21,000 fans on Facebook. A good number of them found him through Facebook Ads. The team that set Joe up with his on-line footprint used a $20/day ad budget targeting Jets and Tide fans on Facebook. They averaged 350 “likes” per day using the ads. And they got about another 150 “likes” per day through word of mouth and links from the blog.

The other tactic the team used to get exposure to the Facebook Page was for Joe to post on other athletes Pages. He went to Mohamed Ali’s page, and Shaq’s page and Crimson Tide’s page. And Gary Vaynerchuk’s page. If you know about Gary, he’s a huge Jet’s fan with a goal to own the team one day. And he has 53,000 Facebook Fans.

Fans who want to know what Joe thinks during a game, follow him on Twitter. He tweets from his iPad during the game. He’ll tell you what caused a bad pass like only a guy who’s done it can. Shot him a tweet and there’s a good chance you’ll a note back.

Joe is doing what he does best – talking about his passion to other people passionate about the same thing. You can do the same thing.

Here’s 5 things to keep in mind as you define strategy around your passion:

  1. Know what you are passionate about. For Joe, that’s 2 football teams and the topics that surround them.
  2. Pick a content method that works for your style. For Joe that’s video.
  3. Repurpose your content on multiple platforms. Post the videos on multiple platforms.
  4. Advertise where people can find you.  Shoe – string budgets work.
  5. Stick with it. There’s no Superbowl ring for the guys who don’t come to practice. Commit to a 3 month of program and find a coach.

Inside the Customer’s Head November 11, 2010

Wednesday comScore offered a web session reviewing e-commerce trends from Q3 2010 and covering trends emerging for the upcoming holiday shopping season.  The session promised to hit on “e-commerce highlights from the third quarter of 2010, and will include a preview of online holiday shopping trends and an early read on consumer sentiment heading into the busy shopping season.”

comScore, Inc. is a global leader in measuring the digital world. Learn more about them here.

I’m sharing my notes in hopes you can take away some nuggets to grow your business by responding to consumer trends. What’s any of it have with social media? It’s a look inside the head of the consumer. Gear your social media conversations toward the way consumers are thinking right now.

Within the context of the session e-commerce is defined as worldwide retail shopping done on US based sites, excluding travel, cars and auction purchases.


  • Q3 ecommerce was up 8% over 2009 (2009 was very soft); back to a positive growth pattern.
  • E-commerce is approaching 10% of overall spending.
  • During the height of the recession e-commerce spend went negative to the tune of 1-2%
  • Decline in overall spending during the recession dropped by nearly 10%; e-commerce lost less biz than brick and mortar spending.
  • Ecommerce spend rebound since the recession has surpassed pre-recession levels; brick & mortar spending has not rebounded as much.
  • Consumers #1 concern is unemployment; uniform across income levels and for both employed and unemployed. (see chart below)
  • Inflation is #2 concern
  • 58% of people believe the unemployment rate will begin to improve 12 or more months from now. Consumers get it, and they expect this to last a long time. Expect cautious spend until those 58% believe recovery is closer.
  • Upper income segment is more optimistic about unemployment ending. If this is your market you have a more promising outlook.
  • Consumers are compensating by changing spend in 3 ways:
    • Reducing gift spending (61%)
    • Choosing other brands than previously (57%)
    • Shopping different retailers to save money (31%).
  • Top 25 retailers are gaining market share over smaller competitors; they outspend them on marketing to gain share, and offering discounts to lure customers.
  • Retailers who only sell online are growing faster than those with both online and brick & mortar outposts.
  • Websites with visitor growth are either purely e-commerce, like Amazon; or those whose internet presence interacts with their brick & mortar locations. Like Apple where consumers search the web for classes held in brick & mortar locations. Or Best Buy where you can buy online and pick-up product in-store.
  • Hot trends – sales via Groupon and LivingSocial visit growth has been phenomenal.
    • Hard to tell if there is seasonality to either of them, not enough data yet.
    • See category trends in the chart below.
  • Mobile e-commerce is growing, but not quite there yet – marketers are still figuring out how to reach the mobile user w/ something to buy rather than just give them information on the go.

Now the hard part – What’s any of this mean for your business? How can you use it to grow your share?

As always, drop me a note if you’d like help sorting through ideas.

This recession's joblessness is much different than any other recession.

Consumer categories and expected growth.