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About Matt Bailey

Matt has taught Google employees how to understand and use Google Analytics, consulted with Experian on how to present data, developed online marketing training for both Proctor and Gamble and Johnson & Johnson and presented analytics methodologies to Disney, ABC & ESPN. As founder of SiteLogic, Matt teaches marketers how to create measurable and profitable strategic marketing plans.

Endless Coffee Cup Podcast: “Authentic Marketing”

How Can You Be “Authentic” in Marketing?

Matt and Sue attempt to get a handle on the latest buzzword and break it down into how marketers should approach authenticity.

Does Authenticity mean accurate? Truthful? Caring? Personal? Let’s dig in to the meanings and implications of authenticity. However, this leads us into other areas of marketing and provides some honest introspection on what marketing really is, and what it attempts to do in persuading us to purchase products.

 

Yes, we’re going to get a bit cynical at times, as we are talking about the base elements of marketing and the methods of persuasion that billion-dollar multi-national corporations use to make their products “authentic.” And of course, we can learn from those! We can all become better consumers and marketers when we can evaluate the marketing promises that are being used to persuade us.

 

Matt and Sue are both drinking Matt’s favorite coffee: Tanzanian Peaberry.

 

Don’t forget! You can also subscribe to Endless Coffee Cup via iTunes

Some housekeeping items:

1. Thank you for your support! To our many friends who recommended the podcast – we are overwhelmed with gratitude!
2. As with any podcast, the first episodes are lower quality. Thank you for your patience as we work through the recording process – we’re learning!

Endless Coffee Cup podcast: “Sexy Data”

In this podcast, “Sexy Data,” Matt & Sue talk about how clients and agencies look at activity as a metric, rather than results.
The headlines lead us into areas of client expectations and asking better questions about your target market. Matt loses his mind over a headline about “Big Data” which brings us into a discussion about data, customers and customer relationships. Of course, ‘Sexy Data’ comes up as the alternative to Big Data and Small Data.

Referrals, client & customer relationships dominate the rest of the discussion. We ponder about why businesses spend so much more time on customer acquisition rather than developing the customer relationships that they already have? Do businesses realize the treasure trove of business data and analytics available from mining their own customer base?

For this episode, Matt & Sue are both drinking the local “House Blend.” Sue takes cream, Matt drinks it black.

 

Data Requires Trust

Using Customer Data For Your Marketing? Better have Trust First.

“I don’t like this,” my wife said as she tensely slid the mailer over to me. A local car dealer had sent a “For Sale” sign that displayed her name and vehicle: make

Is marketing too invasive?

Is marketing getting too invasive?

model and year. They claimed to be looking for that model of car to purchase, as there is a demand for it.

However, it was from a car dealer that we have never used, never visited, and have never purchased that kind of car. It was from a Kia dealer wanting to purchase our Honda.

Being in the marketing data business, I know that it is not difficult to produce this type of marketing. It is targeted, personalized – somewhat relevant, but for many consumers, this is getting too close to an outright invasion of privacy.

Direct Data Marketing

Even though this information is public record, digitalization has made public records accessible as a bulk commodity, which is something I am sure that those who created the system did not intend. Regardless, companies can now access tens of thousands or millions of consumer records based on purchases, credit scores, demographics, zip codes – you name it.

Even though the company may have no ill intent and have no idea who will receive their marketing material, it’s a blank to be filled in by a third party data service. And that is the problem. 

By using personally identifiable consumer data in marketing, without a previously established relationship, you are breaking the bounds of a trust-based relationship. One would assume that a trusted relationship would result in keeping personal information, well, personal. But when there is no relationship, and personal information is used as a targeting tactic, it can come across as crass, or even invasive. You can be too close for comfort to the consumer, especially when they have never done business with you or even know about you.

Trust is established when there is a mutual agreement.

When the agreement has been acted upon and both parties have delivered, there is now a working relationship. Both have shown good faith and will most likely do business together again. For example, we have purchased our last four cars from the same dealership – why would we change based on a mailer asking us to sell our Honda to someone other than our dealer?

To quote a line from one of my favorite movies, Jurassic Park, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” This fits modern day data marketing perfectly. Just because the technology is there does not mean that you should take advantage of it and use it. It needs to be considered in the light of the consumer’s perspective – not the benefit of the marketing company.

Here are a few guidelines:

  1. Does the customer know you?
  2. Do you have a previously established relationship?
  3. Has the customer expressed a desire to receive relevant information?
  4. Has the customer expressly shared their information with you?
  5. Will the customer expect that you know the information you will use?

If you answered “no” to these questions, then you have not established trust. Do not embark on this wonderful new marketing data venture, rife with possibilities – unless you want to alienate an audience by “creeping them out.”

It’s not that marketing should not be done. Marketing is a part of this economic system. Companies have every right to persuade you to use their business or products. Consumers expect marketing and advertising. However, when you use personally identifying information AS IF there is an already established relationship, it may be taken as invasive marketing.

Using data is a responsibility – not a right.

Crossing the line of creepiness is a decision that every company will have to make as they work in this world of personalization. In pushing the potential of using personal data in marketing, the question needs to be asked, “should we?” just as much as “can we?”

The Overlooked Marketing Channel: Customer Referrals

In the marketing space, there is constant talk about customer advocacy in social media, making moments matter and all things surrounding the digitally-based customer conversation. However, I believe that we tend to get wrapped up on all things digital (maybe because it can be measured, or get large budgets) and we tend to forget the most standard of marketing channels – the customer referral.

I keep a library of old sales books, a hold-over from sales trainings and my early career choices. I refer to them often, as I find that the more I develop in digital marketing, the more instruction and wisdom is available in traditional (old) sales techniques. At its core, sales training is about learning about the customer and helping them find a solution. The more the customer talks and explains their situation, the more information you are able to work with to find them a solution.

Digital marketing can learn a lot from established sales principles.

Today, studies and research consistently present us with digital channel comparisons, sometimes it may include offline channels. But a recent study caught my eye, as it presented comparative measurements showing that Customer Referrals, by a large margin, were the #1 conversion channel.

In this client survey from Implicit  of nearly 500 clients who also use Salesforce as their CRM system, 3.63% of leads from customers and employees resulted in a sale. The word-of-mouth referral rate doubles the conversation rates of website and social media leads, 1.55% and 1.47% respectively.

Word-of-Mouth Referrals are still the best, most powerful form of marketing for your business.

It's the really good and the really bad that is shared.

Those that invest in the customer experience are making an investment in referrals.

The experience that people have working with your agency, experiencing your service or product is the product! The experiences people have mean more to them than any glossy brochure or Google ranking – and they share it!

The most powerful marketing tool at your disposal is the customer experience. If people like it, they tell others about it. If people have a bad experience, they tell others about it. While campaigns may bring new visitors, your best chance at referral marketing lies with the customers in your care – right now!

I was never more aware of this than when I stayed at The Langham in Chicago. Now, I have had great hotel experiences where I knew that the staff were focused on the visitors, but the Langham was obviously a step above what I had experienced. I truly felt that I was the most important person in their care when I talked to them. Not anything else was taking their attention, it was fully on me. It made a memorable impression – even on someone who spends a lot of time in hotels.

Another recent study found that nearly 3/4 of companies do not have a “formalized marketing message process for all employees to follow.”  Of the companies that did have a formal marketing message process, 60% stated that it was not followed consistently. Therein lies the key. Each employee must know the message of the company and how it is displayed in customer interactions.

Here is the key factor – a hotel is a hotel. There are not a lot of “extra’s” that really define one from the other. It was the service and the experience of that service that made the impression – the people. Marketing is effective to bring people in the door, but the experiences people have will be the ultimate factor. Those companies that invest in the customer experience are making an investment in marketing.

Every Customer is a Salesperson

"Every Customer is a Salesperson"

“Every Customer is a Salesperson”

A visitor’s experience is the best advertising campaign and investment. In his book, “Endless Referrals” (McGraw-Hill, 1998), Bob Burg states that Every Customer is a Salesperson….Train them to sell you.”

In any business, this instruction is clear. The experience that a customer has on either end of the spectrum will be shared. Non-experiences tend not to be shared. Those that are memorable – either way, those will be shared. Sometimes they will even be shared digitally.

To encourage a customer to share and be a salesperson of your business, they must consistently experience the best you have to offer – a consistently outstanding experience. This means that all of your employees must be able to act in a way that reinforces the company message and be able to articulate it in whatever capacity they work.

I have found in my own speaking business that the more time I invest in producing a higher quality talk, the results are tangible by the referrals and offshoot invitations. It has changed my marketing budget significantly to focus investment on the audience experience, the follow-up and the results; rather than heavily investing in traditional channels for new leads.

Conversely, I had an experience in talking with someone who was building a house. They were asking friends and associates about builders and who they knew. When I asked if they had talked to a specific local company, their response was telling, “From what I’ve been told, no one uses that company twice.” This builder was known for their strong marketing presence in the local community, but word of mouth referrals told a different side of the customer experience.

Word-of-mouth tends to be a forgotten channel when all of the digital channels, social, CMS, and automated messaging taking center stage in our attention. However, I tend to believe that the most powerful marketing message is the one communicated between two humans in conversation. Those are the ones that will be primarily communicated to friends, associates, and colleagues by true (non-digital) word of mouth.

Simple Sales Wisdom: Follow-up after the Sale

The Amazing Follow-Up Benefits of a Welcome Series Email

One of the more interesting psychological phenomenon surrounding sales is the concept of the post-purchase regret or “buyers remorse.” Buyers remorse is a common experience after making a significant purchase. When we invest in a major decision, it costs us, either in terms of a hefty loan or a significant amount of money, and we wonder if we made the right decision.

To salespeople, this is one of the most critical steps in the process. Even though it is post-purchase, it is the experience that cements the decision process of the buyer and also develops the nature of a long-term relationship.

Interestingly, this sense of remorse is quickly removed when an assurance is made soon after the decision. This is why you will receive a call from that friendly car salesperson about 1-2 days after you drive off the lot. They know that buyers remorse hits you around that time, so their reassurance and your re-stating your decision help to alleviate any remorse. It will never be as strong as you feel it in those first few days. Afterwards, the rationalizations have been made and you forge ahead.

For a B2B buyer, changing from a long-time provider or taking a chance on a smaller company will inevitably produce this same feelings of remorse:

  • Should I have stayed with the same company?
  • The big, established company was a safe bet. Am I taking too much of a chance?
  • No one ever got fired for selecting Provider A. Even though they are bigger and much more expensive, will it cost me more in the long run?

Logic & Emotion

The decision to purchase is most likely an emotional one, yet propped up with research and facts. So, the follow-up must be a mixture of reassuring the buyer that they made a logical decision, based on their research and data, but also they need to “feel good” about the benefits of the purchase. The follow-up language must be coached in both logical and emotional terms to satisfy the basis of remorse.

This is also the time when a smart company acts quickly to communicate their value, stability and rewards. In a recent study by Eccolo Media, 80% B2B buyers said that  follow-up, education, and information post-purchase is important to the business relationship.

Simple Sales Techniques: Applied Online

In today’s modern marketing, one of the best methods of follow-up is the Welcome Series Email. As a means of follow-up, it provides touch points at critical points in the follow-up post-purchase process.

Prezi is a cloud-based presentation software. After signing up for a subscription, the new user receives a series of scheduled communications. The emails present Prezi and the benefits of the purchase the same way as the sales process, yet in educational terms.

Email 1: Purchase +0

The Prezi initial welcome email is focused on the “How to” aspect of getting started using the software. The Email is titled: Welcome to Prezi: A Getting Started Guide. The email outlines three simple ways to get started: start from a template, import an older presentation, or start from scratch. It is very simply presented and links to the respective landing page. The landing pages are not for sales, but for post-sale education!

In many purchases of software, the critical part is getting the engagement of the buyer early. If the engagement is never reached, the buyer cancels his subscription and revenue is lost.

Similarly, in many other business relationships, if the buyer sees no value, there will not be an ongoing relationship. Establishing the value of the product post-purchase is just as critical as before the sale.


 

Email 2: Purchase +7 days

Now, I am not sure if this was the regularly scheduled email, or did I receive this because I had not yet used the program. Either way – it was specific and targeted to get me into the program. Discarding the 3 ways to get started approach, the email focused on getting started in an even simpler method – video. Go watch the video, see how easy and get started!

Video is a powerful engagement tool, especially for post sales of software or any other product or service that requires the customer to use it correctly for best results. Seeing HOW it is to be used can often make or break a company.


 

Email 3: Purchase +14 days

This is why I love this example. The two prior emails were focused on getting me started in the product. Now that I was using the product, I got an email for a free trial of the paid desktop version. This is an excellent use of the programmed email, as it educates, then asks for another commitment, an upsell, a “hook.”

This is an excellent template to follow, as ongoing communication enables the customer to know that the company is in contact with them, they are not far away and silent, but active, informing and educating. As a buyer becomes more active and engaged, a message can be tailored to them that asks them to take another step in the engagement level. An upgrade, a review, a recommendation – how can you ask a customer to deepen the relationship with you and your company?

This is the time when a customer is at their highest level of excitement and engagement. Buyers  remorse has worn off, and they are starting to see results or benefits to their decision. As engaging emails are helping them to get more out of the product, why wouldn’t you ask them to do something that is an upgrade, up-sell or recommendation?


 

Email 4: Purchase +60

After a little over a month of using the product, the shininess starts to wear off. If it hasn’t become a habit to use the product consistently or if it is not a part of our daily routines, it may start to sit on the side, underused and possibly forgotten.

This is a good time to get back in front of the customer and remind them of additional features and benefits. In this case, Prezi showcases a product benefit that may not be obvious to the customer – it is a multi-tasking tool and can be used in other ways! The email highlights templates to generate ideas within the reader. Prezi presents itself as another tool in the arsenal of the customer – increasing its value and relevance.


Email 5: Purchase +120

The final email in this series was perfect. A questionnaire.

Also, the question itself is a typical question that you may have seen before. It is based on a simple premise, but the implications are foundational to a company and their customer perception.

Based on the book The Ultimate Question this question and the rating scale is intended to provide a NPS – Net promoter Score.

If you rate the likelihood of referring the company to a colleague or friend, a 9-10, then you love the product. You are a Promoter.

If you rate the likelihood of referring the company to a colleague or friend, a 7-8, then there is something holding you back. You like the company but don’t want to be seen holding hands. However, you aren’t negative on the company. You are a Passive.

If you rate the likelihood of referring the company to a colleague or friend, a 0-6, then you do not like the company or the product. Generally, people tend to rate things higher (being nice, not negative), but there is a problem. You are a Detractor.

Based on these ratings, a company can learn a lot about how they are perceived and how to address issues with the product, the service, or the company.  It is the most fundamental feedback a company can receive – the importance of a referral.

 Questionnaires and Feedback

By asking for my opinion and rating, I am now a participant in the process. I am a part of the improvement, and my responses can be used to better the company and the product. Even more, my investment may increase in value as I provide valuable information in return.

I was surprised that there were not more opportunities to provide explicit information back to the company.

For a product like this, I would certainly be interested as to:

  • Who is using it?
  • How many presentations do they make a year?
  • How many people are listening to the presentations?

Why? So I know who my power users and my influencers are. Someone who uses the software in public will be a critical part of the word-of mouth growth of the company. Knowing who they are would be a valuable key in the ongoing customer advocacy and marketing of the company.

Follow-up after the sale

welcome-series-benefitsHow critical is the follow-up to handle buyers remorse? A recent study by Inbox Group showed that a welcome series email campaign averages 4x the open rate, 8x the click-through rate and 5x the revenue compared to other email campaigns.

Why? Because alongside buyers remorse is also excitement. Excitement at a new provider, at maybe taking a chance on a smaller, more agile company or maybe a chance to get noticed for making a forward-thinking decision.

A new buyer is an excited buyer. Feeding the customer the information they need to keep them hungry and excited creates advocacy and referrals. It creates loyalty in a customer who knows that this company communicates well and often, and maybe “reads my mind.” A welcome series prolongs the honeymoon and leverages the excitement of the customer and the openness to follow-up communications.

Companies that recognize the buyer’s risk, address the remorse and educate their customers to get the most out of the product will not only increase the long-term relationship with the buyer, but also increase their bottom line revenue as well.

How Technology can Improve Your Speaking and Presentations

The past few months have been busy on the speaking circuit. I love traveling to new cities and meeting people in different industries. It’s always a fun time to spend learning about an industry and the nuances involved for their specific marketing needs.

Preparing for a Presentation

When I am speaking at a conference, I really like watching other speakers and learning other aspects of marketing. I noticed some real issues at some of the conferences that I attended, as it seems as though many of the speakers were completely unprepared to present. It took away from their time, their message and their credibility. If you are going to present at a conference or in front of any group of people, it is in your best interest to be prepared, especially on the technology side.

Technology: A Speaker’s Best Friend – Or Worst Enemy

The two technical issues that are consistent problems for speakers are:

The Key to Presenting Without Problems: Your Tools

The Key to Presenting Without Problems: Your Tools

  1. Connecting to the projector
  2. Using video during the presentation

Your Projector Connection

This is why moderators need speakers to show up early and test the connection and the presentation well ahead of the scheduled speaking time.  I always try to get to the room at least 30 minutes prior to my scheduled time (60 minutes if I’m the keynote). In this way, I know everything is connected, on, and working. Then, I can relax.

I am amazed at the speakers that show up 5 minutes before their scheduled presentation and are a flurry of activity attempting to get connected. If problems will happen – it’s then.

Upgrade.

I am amazed at how many speakers brought laptops that were well over 5 years old.  I’m sorry, but that is ancient technology in this day and age. If you are a professional speaker that is getting paid to talk, then the tools of your trade need to reflect the same quality you want to present. No craftsman allows his tools to become old, rusty and imprecise. Many of my friends are tradesmen, and they take extraordinary care of their tools, as the tools are a direct reflection of their craft and their work.

Here’s the rule: The older your laptop, the more trouble you will have connecting to a projector. Chances are, the older the laptop is, the more RAM is consumed by programs running in the background, and the older the OS will be. Older computers are less responsive, have more “stuff” on them, and create the most problems.

I saw one speaker spend nearly 15 minutes of his presentation time trying to CTL+F7 his laptop onto the projector. By then, he’d lost the audience – literally. They started walking out without hearing a word or seeing a slide. Your tools need to be as sharp as your skills.

Using Video in Presentations

Many moderators and organizers will ask if you have video in the presentation. One organizer states that she preferred no video in any presentations, as there is always  a problem and hassle in getting it to work. Again – this comes back to preparation.

If you can’t embed the video into the presentation, and you are relying on an active internet connection to stream it, you’ve made two bad decisions. You can’t ever rely on a good internet connection, and you can’t rely on video that is not embedded, tried and tested. If using video requires you to get out of the presentation and open another program, it is a distraction and takes away from the continuity of your talk.

The new version of Microsoft PowerPoint may have improved video embedding. I know when I used PowerPoint, I never embedded video because it was either impossible or unreliable. If it is unreliable, then don’t do it. However, you’ll only know if it is unreliable if you test it live – on more than one projector.

My Mac Geek-Out

I don’t want to come off as a lemming – but I love my MacBook Air and Keynote. When i switched to this combination, the quality of my presentation increased dramatically. Keynote has a higher resolution and creates sharper fonts and images. Transitions are subtle, but beautiful. As an added bonus, you can embed video into the presentation. The most impressive feature is the ability to edit the video’s start point, finish points and poster frame. You don’t have to watch the whole thing, or switch programs – you edit it to show only the relevant part!

Using my MacBook has also eliminated connection issues by 99%. I plug it in – and it works. Simple, elegant. Now, it’s not to say that once in a while there has been some goofiness with the projector and the presenter display – but if you familiarize yourself with the screen options and issues, you’ll find that they are easily fixed. The 1% connection issue was a bad adapter. Which is why I now travel with a backup.

Pro Tips: Presenting well is all about minimizing external factors. Never rely on “external factors” to make your presentation successful. Mitigating possible problems and controlling as much as possible should be your mindset.

Don’t rely on:

  • reliable internet connections
  • compatible internet connections
  • presentation remotes being provided
  • ideally placed screens
  • ideally placed projectors
  • everything to work, all the time

Mitigating possible problems is part of being prepared.

In order to be prepared, I travel with a presentation kit;

My Presenter Toolkit

My Presenter Toolkit

  • I received a grid-it technology organizer as a gift, and fits right in my travel bag.
  • (2) Mac Video to VGA adapter
  • 1 iPhone to VGA adapter**
  • 1 Mac Video to HDMI
  • Presentation remote
  • Spare batteries for the remote
  • Power Cord
  • Business Cards
  • Charging cables
  • Travel toothbrush and toothpaste (if you ever speak during a dinner engagement, you’ll be glad to have this)
  • USB drive with presentations

It is all about contingency planning. Anticipating possible problems and deal with them before they happen.

Use the best tools available to present a quality experience, and always test them. When you can present a repeatable performance, and know that you are prepared for just about anything – you’ll do fine.

** Yes, I have given a presentation from my iPhone. This is why I have the Keynote App and Dropbox on my phone, and the iPhone to VGA adapter. I was in a client’s office and did not have a presentation that suited the situation. Without wi-fi available, I was able to download the presentation to my Phone through Dropbox, and play it through the Keynote app. It worked out very well, and was a completely unnoticeable difference. Though I think the client was more impressed at the presentation being given from an iPhone than the presentation itself…

Related Articles:

 5 Semi-Pro Speaking Tips

Make Your Presentations Memorable

Consistency and Clarity

 

Simple Sales Techniques: My “Yes, but” Rule

How to Screen Prospects

Great Clients

My consulting company, SiteLogic, has a steady stream of prospects that we have to work through. Since I’ve been in sales for over 30 years now, I find that one of the easiest ways to get good clients is to screen them before they become customers. The more time you spend in qualifying your leads and knowing the real motivations of the prospect, the better you can realize a true fit between them and your organization.

How to spot consistently unhappy prospects

 Spot problems early

and then….

Bad Clients

On the opposite side, there are those prospects that become clients and life is never the same. They become your most demanding, yet least satisfied client. They absorb more of your time than other clients, and simply cannot see the purpose of the advice and recommendations. They don’t follow things through, expect you to react to their needs immediately. For some reason, things just don’t work out on either side. Bad feelings are created early, and very rarely does a client like this end up being long-term or experience success.

Chances are, you have been one company in a long string of companies that has worked with this client, and none have been able to produce the results they want. And most people know that a bad client is rarely a profitable client.

“Yes, but…”

I’ve been able to spot these type of prospects earlier and earlier in the process. The challenge is to simply follow the rule, what I call the “Yes, but” rule.

Here’s how it works: When presenting your agency, product, or system, if the prospect agrees and quickly disagrees with you. Easily identified by statements like:

  • OK, I like what you are saying, but my situation is completely unique…”
  • Yes, that’s good, but I’ve not had good experiences..”
  • Great, I like that, but here is where I differ…”
  • OK – I like that, but can I only do half?”
  • Yes, but can we start small and work up?”
  • Good, I like it, but if you give me a deal on this, I’ll give you more business”
  • Yes, I understand why you quoted all of this, but I don’t have the budget, can I still get all of the services for less?”

Many such statements have a valid concern, which should be addressed. That’s why I need to keep a count of how many times it comes up in the conversation. Genuine objections are acceptable (and should be expected), but there is a major difference between a sales objection and a product-process objection. When it comes to your evaluation and diagnosis of a problem, and it is met with a “yes, but” and there is no resolution, then you do not have the right prospect for your business. If it comes up three or more times in the conversation, you can bet that it will be indicative of your future relationship with that prospect.

“Yes, but” is not Agreement

When a prospect makes these types of statements, they are not really agreeing with you – they are countering you. They are taking your statement explaining how your system or product works and countering it with their view of how it should work – for them.  If this happens in the sales cycle, you can bet it will continue on into the client cycle. Ultimately, your recommendations will be met with objections, and very little will be accomplished.

We know the cycle. Advice is countered, recommendations are not followed, content is changed. What was supposed to be a process of helping that client in their area of need becomes the client instructing you. Usually, the client’s biggest need is the area they do not want to surrender, and nothing changes…. They came to you as the expert, but do not let you be the expert.

As I’ve noticed, this kind of behavior is spotted early in the process.  They may ask for your help and acknowledge the deficiencies in their marketing, messaging, SEO, website, etc. But, listen carefully. Problem prospects will always admit the problem with a temporary agreement, but then follow up with a counter to your understanding of the situation or their unique issues.

Finding A Good Fit

Ultimately, we all want our relationships to work out mutually beneficial and profitable. However, there are those relationships which simply demand more of your time and provide little or no profit. Even worse, nothing is accomplished of any lasting value for that client. Either your recommendations have not been followed, or they have been dismissed. Either way, there is no profit on either side.

Spotting these types of relationships early can save time and money on both sides. Business people know that sometimes, overlooking a known issue just to get the sale usually results in a longer, less fruitful and unprofitable relationship. The payoff in getting the sale is not worth the frustration and lack of success in the long run.

 

More Sales Articles:

What is the Real Need?

Old Sales Wisdom or New Online Techniques?

False Correlations: When Actions Do Not Follow Goals

5 Storytelling Lessons for Effective Communication

Earlier, I wrote about the 5 elements to help you to communicate compelling data.

From comic books to novels; fiction to fact, there are consistent elements of telling a story that are just as effective when making a presentation.  Your presentation can be about anything, but to keep the attention of your audience…

Here are 5 C’s of Effective and Memorable Storytelling:

 

lessons from storytelling

Clarity: Focus on your primary message. Leave details or distracting information to the side.

In storytelling, the most basic storyline is in 3 parts. We are presented a situation, that is then upset, and then re-set. All stories follow this basic outline. It is simple, allows for creative means of accomplishment, but keeps a central order.

When presenting, it is a common distraction to wander off into details or other areas that are not specific to the problem at hand. Attempting to solve too many problems, or simply getting off-track into a supporting details can kill the attention in the room before you even get started. State the problem, offer the solution, sell the results. Situation-upset-reset.

 

Contrast: As compared to what? A contrasting element is necessary to show the result of inaction.

Every Hero needs a Villain, just as every subject needs a verb.  Create the contrast to highlight the problem and bring attention to your analysis. This could be as easy as asking two questions: 1. What people are doing? 2. What we want them to do?

 

Concise: Utilize the basic elements of the data, have details available, but guide the audience through the important, relevant information.

Details are always at the discretion of the storyteller. Good writers give you just enough detail to work out a mental picture, but only those that will be important in developing the overall story. The supporting characters receive even fewer details, landscapes only receive a few (artfully crafted) words.

Details? Always. In the presentation? Only those that communicate your main point. Cite the rest of your data and have it ready (That’s what handouts are for). Don’t build your case with overwhelming charts, pivot tables and bar graphs. Pull the essential few for your meeting, but leave the supporting cast to the side. Available, but not center stage.

 

Consistent: Don’t feel the need to go into other tests or bring in other data to make a case. Simplicity is attained with a consistent track of content.

Stay on your storyline. Nothing is more frustrating than adding additional story lines without any resolution of prior situations. Declare the problem, find a solution, use at the data. DO NOT bring up more problems unless they are on the path towards solving the initial problem. Keep your presentation, your talk, your slides and your approach on the clear road to resolution.

 

Conclusion: Know when to stop.

Most good stories are not completely resolved. There are still loose ends that readers have to resolve themselves, which keep them engaged long after the story is done. You do not have to follow the presentation completely through to its obvious conclusion.

State the problem first. Introduce the thinking that overcomes the problem, and the data that guides your thinking and points the intended results. You may feel the need to state the obvious, but allow your audience to make the final connection. In this methodology, you allow others to draw the conclusion, rather than you making it for them.

If your audience makes the connection between the problem, the data, and the solution before you walk them through it, then they will be much more receptive to your conclusion.

 

 

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 Are You Suffering from Bad Data?

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Communicate Data with Stories

Let’s face it.

bored-by-data

Don’t Be Boring With Your Data!

Charts, graphs and reports are not an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon meeting. They are the death blow to a PowerPoint presentation. They are flat, boring, repetitive, and disengaging.

The problem is that people do not care about data. Unless you provide a reason for them to care. They key is the connection.

Stories are the most powerful form of persuasion. They communicate emotion, logic and develop credibility by the presentation. Data does not have to be boring. In this age of analytics, data visualization  and graphical tools, data can be presented as a vibrant cornerstone of your overall presentation.

5 Elements to Communicate Compelling Data:

1. Segmentation: Data presentation works best when it is about a specific group performing or reacting to a specific action.

The smaller the segment, the more detailed you can be about that specific group of people. The bigger the segment, the less information you can derive about them. Keep the group small, yet large enough to make an impact. Details about that segment enable a connection to be made about where they came from, what they were looking, what they saw and how they reacted. Behavior is much easier to interpret among a small group of users with similar experiences.

 

2. Event: The event provides the content to the purpose of the action or reaction.

What is the primary factor among the segment? Is it behavior, source, or action? Identify the primary factor that can be acted upon and tested. If there is no primary factor, then you are presenting multiple base factors, which will not be clear. Leverage the primary factor into your presentation as the pivot point of this segment.

 

3. Correlation: Your interpretation of the causal factors of the action to the reaction within the specific group.

This is where you can be creative in your storytelling. Data may not provide this information, you have to think in terms of human factors that drive the specific behavior. Is the reader engaged or disengaged? Is this an action made by someone who is researching a decision, or making a quick search in the middle of another activity? How would the user’s external circumstances affect their engagement?

 

4. Repeatability: Can this be repeated, improved, tested? If so, what is expected, proven, or improved by the test.

How often is this behavior measured? Is it a consistent segment of your traffic. Are your users telling you something, or asking for more information through their actions? What behavior is repeated that can be an indicator of missing information or absent “next steps?”

 

5. Predictability: Once this action can be predicted based on the causal factors, what is the result? What can you predict based on this information?

If an event is repeatable and predictable, then it can become profitable! Predictability creates opportunities for testing multiple aspects of the same problem. It can also provide a clear testing path to continue to grow this segment, this action or correlation into a powerful, predictable stream of leads, sales and revenue.

 

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Transform Your Analytics in 3 Questions

Data is Subjective

Effective Communication

A good friend of mine recently delivered a talk on how to increase one-to-one communication. She made the point that all electronic communication is ultimately binary – which is data. A wonderful observation, replete with significant implications.

Communication is an Art.

It requires active participation at the face-to-face level. Most communications students can quote the “90% of communication is non-verbal”mantra. But in today’s business world, communication today is non-verbal!  How do you overcome this limitation?

Text-based communication is inherently negative

Text-based communication is inherently negative

At its source, data is subjective. Data is ultimately judged by the receiver. This is the crux of text-based communication. Your tweet that was somewhat snarky is read as insulting, regardless of your intent. It is all based on the interpretation of the receiver. There is no additional context available, so the receiver adds their own context.

Negative Interpretation

There are two problems with receivers adding their own context. Psychologically, we tend to read Computer Mediated Communications (CMC) with a negative bias.

This is the Fundamental Attribution Error: We tend to attribute people’s words and behavior to their disposition (personally) rather than considering any external events or cause of confusion.

Another aspect of our personalities is Negative Interpretation: Because emails, texts, and tweets lack non-verbal factors, they are read as neutral or negative.  Even emails written with a positive bias are read with a neutral bias, as the intent is not communicated. Positive communication relies heavily on non-verbal factors.

Intent is rarely communicated

Here’s the bottom line. Information that you Tweet, text, email, or update in your status is ultimately data – and binary data at that. Data mediated through a computer. As with all data, it is then left to the receiver to read, apply their bias, and interpret it through their own filter.

Research has shown that people believe that they can communicate over email and other CMC’s more effectively than they actually can. Unfortunately, this bias, combined with Negative Interpretation, leads to unpleasant confrontations. When responded to in kind (electronically), the situation inflames. When people use email in responding to a negative situation, the reader takes what was written negatively and reads even more negativity into the email, and both parties take it personally. When you write an angry electronic message, the added Negative Interpretation of the receiver reads it as venomous.

Having seen this happen in work and life, I made it a policy for my employees to use the phone when they suspect mis-communication or anger in an email. By picking up the phone, you add the context of a person’s voice and the inflections, which tends to show that the perception was usually the result of Fundamental Attribution Error.

Social Media is Data

Beyond interoffice IM’s, client relationships and sales, there is the realm of social media information. Despite the growing popularity, one can easily show the volatility of the industry and short life spans of many social media communities. One reason for the lack of staying power is that the communication becomes complex when you have thousands or millions of Computer Mediated Communication messages. Ultimately, these messages are interpreted by the receiver, despite the intent of the sender.

Using this as a primary communication method creates the same pitfalls as other CMC content. Context is the key. Social Media recognizes rightly that conversation is important. However, how many “conversations” take place with no non-verbal cues?

While there is a blessing of short-form communication to express a thought; Its curse is short-form, limited communication that is ultimately binary data, recorded for all time, read through the filter of the reader.

(as an aside, this is why I prefer blogging as my primary form of social media and marketing content. It is long form. It helps to communicate more than just information, but also allows the ability to provide citations, images, and additional context).

To some marketers, this may explain why your cat pictures are favorited and shared more than your contest. Your electronic communications deliver very little intended emotion; as any emotion there is tends to be added by the recipient.

That is, if they even take the time to read the full text of your message.

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