Saturday, January 4, 2014

Coaching: Will I make the cut?

The new year has begun with me starting a new/old job. I have re-joined Computer Explorers as Marketing Coordinator and Franchise Support. This means that the lovely lady who replaced me when I left the team in June will continue with operational duties, some of which I will miss and some...not so much. Anyone that knows me knows that I always set out to do a perfect job. Something that sets me up for some bad self-esteem and feelings of failure...because no one can be perfect. One needs to count on a perfect storm in order to be perfect.

For those not in the franchise industry, a franchise support person is a combination of quality control clerk, business partner, therapist and coach to the individual franchisees. It is this last one that I am struggling with this morning. Coach.

As I write this it was just announced that Wade Phillips was fired as the defensive coordinator of the Houston Texans, this just a few weeks after Gary Kubiak was fired as head coach. If you follow football at all you know that after the season the Texans had this year, something needed to be done, maybe this was it. Does failure to perform always fall on the coach? What if I cannot coach franchisees to increased production? Will it be all my fault?

Merriam-Webster defines a coach as someone who teaches, trains and directs a team. I can do all of these verbs - but anyone who has ever heard of Vince Lombardi knows that teaching and training is not all a coach does. A coach inspires!

I KNOW that to increase sales (or business development as it seems to have been white washed into lately) - That one needs to believe in a product, They need to believe in it so hard that any one they talk to is willing to invest hard earned money in it, they need to talk to people, they need to connect with people, they need to know that after they make the sale the rest of their team will follow up and deliver all that the sales person has promised.

How do I do this for my franchisees? Technology education has changed in the last 30 years. Parent's are not longer thrilled to have their kids learn to use the computer...Children practically pop out of the womb understanding click and drag, cut and paste. Technology education is now coding and creating - it is using technology to understand concepts in a way that we never dreamed of 30 years ago...all while clicking and dragging and cutting and pasting appropriately, and being sure that no child has not learned how to find and use the technology tools that will make them successful. Where is the balance between basics and the dream?...all this while getting the people who sign the checks to agree and find the funds in an economy that is stagnant at best? This is a HUGE challenge.

Will I be able to inspire them to jump over or bull doze through the road blocks?....One thing is for sure - I won't be perfect but I will try.

as a side note: I hope that anyone reading this who thinks that corporate franchisors are in business solely for the maybe thinks a bit differently. Some of us are in the business to see success for our partners and customers. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Did You Know? Stories That Should Be Told

There are fascinating things on the internet! Stories that, if I were an author or film maker I would completely research, devour and bring to the masses. Alas, I am neither of these things, I am just a fan of the obscure, and I will share with you.

Sister Juliette was a sharp shooting nun who left the order to join the French Resistence during World War Two. I looked all over and could not find a book about this woman.  This has got to be a great story. Why did she become a nun? Was her decision to leave hard? Did her faith interfere or enhance her drive to kill Nazis?

If anyone knows of a biography about her please leave the title in the comments below.

I am a huge fan of the golden age of Hollywood. I love black and white movies. One of my favorite actresses is Hedy Lamarr. Not only was Ms. Lamarr beautiful she was courageous and smart too. She escaped her controlling Austrian husband, who was selling arms to Germany by drugging her maid at a party and jumping a train!

As if shocking European audiences with her provocative role in the film Ecstasy and a mad cap escape were not enough, she was also the co-inventor of a technology that is still used today by cell phones and GPS. She understood frequency, sound and light waves, and how these things move...I'm still trying to figure out how the asprin knows where you hurt.

We should stop complaining about the lack of girls studying science and technology and tell this story...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pet Peeve: Lessons Learned, 5 Blog Post Ideas and the Government Shutdown

Coming up with new blog posts ideas can be hard. The "experts' will tell you that titles with numbers (lists) and tying your business into a top news story will help drive traffic. With the end of the government shutdown I am bracing myself for a slew of blog posts with titles like What CEOs can learn from the Government Shutdown and Top 5 effects of the Shutdown on Your Business.

ARGH! At this point, these kinds of posts show a lack of creativity. If I read a post I want to know what you really learned...

Instead of going on a rant, let me make some suggestions:

·        What Politicians can learn from watching Scandal

·        Tips for Congress from Seasoned Circus Freaks

·        My Top 10 Road Rage Hand Gestures to use in Washington

·        Real Housewives Budgeting Lessons for Congressmen

·        The Care and Feeding of Your Constituents

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Value your Customer Service with Social Media

As part of my unemployment induced insomnia I have found myself listening to podcasts in an attempt calm myself to sleep at night. In the inaugural episode of Scott Stratten and Allison Kramer’s Unpodcast they make a point that I have been seeing in action in my job search. The under-valuing of customer service in the business world.

Though I am not only looking at social media jobs, I see that most companies treat the use of social as only a marketing tool to be used by interns. I am not arguing the validity of this mind set, but social has a few more uses than SEO. The social contribution of SEO is in content, organic search and the ability to add new content to your website. It works in conjunction with Ad Words, keywords, meta-tags and other back end magic.

The real value of social comes when you consider its use from the viewpoint of your customers. You remember customers, the people who provide you with their hard earned cash so that your business can survive. How do customers view your social media platforms?

Your customers see your social media platform as an extension of your sales counter, your phone line, your info@email account. Yes you are posting content so that you are seen as a thought leader and to drive engagement, but are you responding? Businesses want to be the rock stars of their industry, but only rock stars can stand on a stage and perform to earn a following. If a customer was standing in your store asking about your widgets and your staff ignored them you would fire your staff, yet many times you see customers asking questions on social platforms only to be ignored or answered after a long wait.

You cannot fix your Yelp reviews by continuing to mistreat and mistrust your customers.

You cannot hand out a brochure and expect a customer to hand back a credit card.


Train your social staff in your key messaging and product knowledge.
Train your sales and customer service staff in the monitoring and use of your platforms.
Implement monitoring and social engagement as part of your everyday sales process.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Analyzing the Analytics

As much as I enjoy writing and researching sharable content for my social media platforms, I also like to take time to look at the analytics to this blog. Mostly I find it amusing that Russia, Germany, Ukraine and France round out the top five countries of my readers after the US. This morning I was taken aback by the top referral sites for the past week…porn sites.

Now, I guess it would have been a brilliant move for me to post links on these sites to build SEO…maybe if I had researched the search behavior of those who visit such sites – but alas I have not done such a thing. Though I guess I should have known given that my top post of all time is the one I wrote about employee engagement titled Are Your Employees practicing the World’s Oldest Profession? Or maybe tiara wearing is more tantalizing than I ever knew.

Digging further into the numbers, I see that I need to re-activate my Tumblr account. This is something I never should have deactivated since people I respect liked the page and decided to use the same template I chose. I let it go because it was just one more platform, and it didn’t always pull from my other sites. I hope they have improved this feature.

Networked Blogs has always been a good traffic driver, for me I attribute it to the Facebook integration and the resulting support of family and friends. is an old favorite, that I am going to try for a while to see what the results are – I have been using it for a while. It’s great for curating and searching content, the site also makes it your posts visually appealing. They have added Newsletter creation to their features. You can export your content to MailChimp, email directly to yourself or download the file.  This is an example of what the freebie generated newsletter can look like.

What are your favorite referral sites?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fun with SPAM!

Over the last two months of “looking for my next opportunity” aka unemployment I have been busying myself with some consulting and working on a business plan for my own organization.

Last night I wandered into my SPAM filter to see if any valid emails had found their way there by accident. I found that I have just been wasting my time! I had at least 3 offers to interview to sell life insurance, as well as a couple offers to talk about buying a franchise(are they selling franchises for what unemployment is paying?)

As it turns out, I do not need to worry my pretty little tiara wearing head over anything as silly as a job!
Not one but two people have been trying to reach me to send me money that has been set aside for me on ATM cards – one for 10 million dollars and one for 6 million. 

As if I cannot live comfortably on that the Office of the Senate President of Nigeria wants to send me my share of 35 billion dollars for foreign oil something or other.

It also turns out that I am an Heiress! – Yes – some unknown relative in a foreign country has died and I am the only living relative….I guess my Mom, children and cousins don’t count.

Best of all! All that time on Facebook as not been a waste of time! I have won $950000 from a Facebook lottery….did you know that Facebook has its claims department use Yahoo for email?

 Now that I don’t have to worry about money, I think I will see if that Russian bride organization has grooms…

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Adventures in Job Hunting

I have been job hunting for almost a month now. I want to join a marketing team where I can put my social media skills to work (researching, posting, e-Newsletters and podcasts), while learning more about building strategy and branding. But my skills are not the topic of this blog. The topic is some of the weird stuff I have seen listed in job postings.

“Submit resume and photos” – Huh…this particular one was for an administrative assistant to a marketing department. Why pictures? And what sort of pictures? As if this request isn’t strange enough, they also did NOT include an email address, so I am not sure how you arecsupposed to submit said photos.

Please submit examples of Facebook pages you have grown to 100k REAL fans. They are very clear that they do not want FAKE fans – which is cool, no one wants fans generated by black hat techniques.  
This particular one makes me a bit crazy – I am considering emailing them and asking "what are you doing to generate 100k real fans?" Are they providing awesome customer experience?  Have they fully integrated their website, Facebook, and other social media into their marketing plan? How much money are they putting toward their marketing plan?

Are these questions appropriate for a cover letter? I’m thinking that it is a bit aggressive, but someone needs teach these people some things about social media and communications in general.

Side note: Employers – your software is not so technical and hard that it cannot be learned, if it was you wouldn’t be able to use it – so please stop saying that experience using “blah diddy blah software”  is required. You are missing out on some amazing potential employees.