Relationships Drive Business

Strengthening Customer Engagement to Propel Your Business

Memorial Day May 27, 2011

Filed under: Leadership,Life in General — Carla Bobka @ 9:53 pm
Tags: , ,

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.



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?




Facebook Changes Business Pages February 11, 2011

This afternoon Facebook rolled out some major changes to Business Pages. They look different. The act different. It ROCKS.

Here’s a picture highlighting the visual changes. The functional changes for admins are things clients have been asking for endlessly. Take a tour of your Page in Preview mode. Get used to the changes, dig through it. Decide if you want the changes early or if you want to wait until March when Facebook hoists them on you. You only get the new admin functions if you take the new look. No pick and choose.

Happy digging.

When you look at the new layout there are lots of changes. Stuff you know is moved. Take your time and enjoy!


Merry Christmas December 25, 2010

Filed under: Life in General — Carla Bobka @ 6:16 am
Tags: ,

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

And to all my Jewish friends, enjoy a wonderful day with your family.


Merry Christmas December 9, 2010

Filed under: Life in General — Carla Bobka @ 2:30 am
Tags: ,
Love 2010 Christmas Card
Get custom photo Christmas cards online at
View the entire collection of cards.

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.