Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm not dead yet! Marketing to Grown ups

I received an email from a financial planner the other day that said “Do you sometimes think about leaving work? Many of us do as we get older. We want to try something new or maybe just relax for the rest of our lives. “

My answer…SHUT UP!

I understand that I am not getting younger each day, but is this really the way to reach out for customers? My number one rule for marketing is ‘Know Thy Customer’.

Reaching out to 40-somethings with ‘as we get older’ is a terrible idea! We are having mid-life crisis’s, not thinking about retirement. Maybe we should – but that is not the point. How about “Are you ready to live your passion?” “Is it time to change things up?” So many other things they could have done to build on the first question about leaving work, and left off the phrase “for the rest of our lives” all together.

I wonder if this company didn’t know anyone in their 40s. Or maybe the marketing plan was written by a 15 year old – because we look half dead to them anyway.

The tiara wearing marketer knows to proof and edit and then proof and edit again. Let someone else read it. Let someone with the same demographic as your ideal customer read it.

Either way, I hit delete on this email –they won’t be helping me plan anything.

Please hold my tiara while I blow my nose

The last few days have been hard for me. My son has headed off to his new duty station half way around the world. As always, I am more than proud of this young Marine, but my mother’s heart doesn’t know how to deal with not seeing his face for a year and a half. I take solace in the fact that he is not heading to a war zone, but that doesn’t ease the missing him.

Yesterday, when he called to say I love you from tarmac, prior to lift off I did OK, but as soon as the good- byes were said – the water works started. As Oprah says – I was ‘ugly crying’. I turned to a friend, I sat in her office, she hugged me as my body shook with sobs, told me she loved me. She listened to me. There was nothing else she could do – but it helped.

Today, I talked to a friend as she was leaving the hospital. She has yet another appointment with an oncologist tomorrow, to find out if any treatment plan is available to her. She has been running her own business for 5 years, just as long as she has been fighting cancer. I wonder how she has managed to do this. How has she not given up? Then it struck me – she wasn’t afraid to reach out for help either.

Some days being tiara worthy means not being afraid to ask for help.

Holding out a hand of support does not mean having the answers or a solution. Sometimes it means handing over the tissues.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dirty Dishes are NOT a Sin

As we come upon Judgement Day Eve I find myself thinking about the saying “no one thought on their deathbed ‘I wish I spent more time at the office’”. Well that’s a no brainer. What about the other stuff that we stress out about?

I realize there are silly people who get joy from the vacuum cleaner marks on the carpet or a made bed in the morning. I get more joy from staring at the morning through the window while drinking my coffee, or even getting my AM news and deciding if the world it so crazy to join for the day. I will admit to the occasional zen moment of the hot soapy dishwater – but that is not a state of mind I can attain daily.

I see people running around, I HAVE to do this and I HAVE to do that. Try just once asking yourself ‘really? Why? What will happen if I don’t?’

I have heard of people who can’t relax and take a nap if something is out of place. I say, get help! You aren’t trying hard enough! – I mean really, your mind is on your dust or your laundry. There are many more pleasant things to think about.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Are you a soul-sucking co-worker from hell?

Do your co-workers:

• Always have lunch plans that don’t include you?
• Seem to always be engrossed in deep conversation when you come around the corner?
• Have strange frozen smiles when told you are on the same team project?

If so chances are that, yes, you are a soul-sucking co-worker from hell. The good news is you can fix it.

Realize that not everyone is spending their work day doing what feeds their passion either. They are paying the rent and buying groceries, just like you, they are just doing it with a smile.

Quit bad-mouthing the company that you both chose to work for. While putting it down, you are also bad mouthing your coworker’s decision to work there.

Unless you are talking to the person responsible for making you feel underpaid and unappreciated…to put it bluntly “shut it”.

For heaven’s sake, quit constantly ringing your own chimes. Unless you have the ability to fly and turn yourself invisible – you are not the only one with your knowledge base or talents. Get over yourself.

The question “How are you?”…is really a greeting. No one really cares about your cat’s hernia and your great Aunt Lucy’s colonoscopy.

Stop and think about what you bring into someone’s office with you the next time you walk through the door. Bring a smile, a genuine compliment, and offer to reduce their work load or a good feeling about the work they are doing.

Remember Maya Angelou said “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Make them feel good and they will feel good about you?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tiaras on Mechanics

It’s that time of year, so I spent some time Saturday morning sitting at the garage waiting for my car to be inspected. No sooner was I out of my car and guy #1 (Bobby) asked what he could do . I said inspection please. He was very accommodating, checked my paper work and sent me inside to wait. I hadn’t even made it inside when guy #2 (who I later found out was the owner), met up with me to ask if he could help. I told him I was fine and he thanked me.

I thought to myself, “Self, these people are way nice and definitely into customer service”.

As I was sitting in the surprisingly clean waiting room, the owner came in and was doing owner stuff, when guy #3 came in and finished up with a customer. As he was heading back into the work bay, the owner thanked HIM…I knew at that point I had a blog post.

So Alex Barocio at the Castrol Service Center…whether he knows it or not wears his tiara to work – and so do the two men that were working with him on Saturday.

Bobby: “Ma’am, you need your brakes serviced, would you like me to show you”
Me: “You could, but I wouldn’t know what I was looking at”
Alex: “Come with me, I will show you”
Me: “I can’t take care of this today”
Bobby: “ I can get you 15% off when you are ready”
Alex: “Here is my card, call when you want to come in.”

Yes! Saturday AM, everybody and their brother needs an oil change. Houston is in the middle of a drought and record high temps ..garages are typically not air conditioned. It’s hot and busy and this place has it’s tiara on…with a clean garage, two mechanics that didn’t treat me like a stupid woman who would not understand, an employer who thanks customers and his employees and a low pressure atmosphere. And all three smiled!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Don't Throw your Project Manager out with the Bathwater!

At one point earlier this year, I was not allowed to talk directly to one of our vendors. I admit I was getting a wee bit sarcastic in some of our interactions, but that happens when I get frustrated. In the current economic climate people are trying to do more with less (staff) and there are new start ups. Both have growing pains and those growing pains can irritate the bejeezus out of your clients.

From what I can tell, there is a school of thought that a project manager is not needed. You may think that a team member can handle the ‘to do’ list and maintain the customer relations. It really can’t be done. Customer priorities change, not always because of poor planning on their part. They may be responding to customer or stockholder needs. They need a point person. A person who understands them and their business, not someone who is trying to get the nuts and bolts of the job done and can answer the phone while doing it.

A good project manager:

• Can see the whole picture
• Builds relationships in all directions
• Can prioritize on the fly
• Can change direction without an act of congress
• Has the ability AND the permission to make decisions