Why Focus on Loyalty?

Loyalty

Loyalty

Loyalty, always a high-sounding word, is ever more in the news and on our minds.

Whether it’s loyalty to a sports team, a political cause or ideology, a leader, a brand, a long-standing relationship, a coffee shop, or the family doctor, we seem to be more concerned with it and discuss it more than ever before.

I’ve been doing (and continue to dig into…) research on loyalty. Specifically, I am interested in:
  • What the drivers are for customer loyalty to businesses
  • How these drivers relate to relationship and dialogue stages
  • Factors / components that are online, off-line, and a blend of the two
  • Other components or influences that I have yet to uncover
While this will not be the “Unified Theory of Loyalty” (with apologies to physicists everywhere….), I wish to come to a clearer understanding of what establishes, builds and maintains this stance in customers and people in general. Humans are complex, absolutely unique individuals who, nonetheless, exhibit certain related behaviors and tendencies. If this were not so, the social sciences would have to just fold up their collective tents and take up hospitality management.

As I continue to research this topic and make discoveries, I will be writing about them here first. The eventual end-product is likely to be a paper, some podcasts, a video or two….likely a combination of all of the above.

So stay tuned!

Now, having gotten the preface out of the way, let me get to the first bit:

Why Loyalty?

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Innovation and Dialogue

dialogue innovation

Dialogue

How much of innovation is an Isaac Newton-like moment (mythically alone and the apple drops on your head….”AH-HA!”) and how much is something else entirely?

And what IS that something else?

I wrote another article asking if innovation was dead. Looking at the world around us, it seems a mixed set of answers. Some things like Artificial Intelligence (AI), driverless cars and certain kinds of other technology seem to beg the question that innovation is alive and well. But we still have stubborn problems as a culture and a world that seem to defy innovative answers. Some of these problems are so monumentally complex that just trying to confront or define them is hard enough (think eradication of hard poverty, cures for things like cancer or diabetes, nuclear proliferation, economic inequality, how to have a positive outcome with whatever the heck is happening to global environment, etc….).

Getting to a more manageable level, like your business, how do you:
  • keep from being a follower when it comes to coming up with new and different ways to attract customers
  • improve and create new products and services
  • grow your business in scalable ways
  • stand out from the crowd of competitors
and the like?

Going it alone can seem attractive. It can feel like, unless you come up it, it’s not really your innovation or idea. This is a real danger for solopreneurs, as innovation is not the same as churn, and this churn is where many of us live and work. Surrounded by shifting tasks, fluid schedules, never-ending revisions of services and offerings….it can SEEM like Innovation at times, even if it’s just a new way to get through the day in one piece!

It’s not.

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Your Job and Your ONE THING

Job

The Job

“It’s not just a Job….It’s an Adventure!”

That was a marketing tag line for the U.S. Navy a number of years ago. A frequent comment among my fellow sailors at the time was “Is this the job part or the adventure part?”

The whole of these two concepts came up to me recently in a conversation I had with a mentor of mine. We were going over his long career, and he mentioned that he felt he never really had a JOB. I asked him what he meant, and he shared that his idea of a job was something that you pretty much had to drag yourself to, every day, like it or not. There was not much life in it, and any correlation between it and the conviction that he was doing something good, right, and worthwhile was nonexistent, or, at best, extremely minimal. He felt that all that he had done never went to the level of being a JOB for him.

After about four hours of dialogue and catching up (I hadn’t seen him for over 4 years…), I drove away mulling over this idea.

Did I ever have a JOB, by this definition?

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“Help Me Fix It!”

Help Me

Help Me!

“Can you help me fix it?”

Almost all my initial conversations with customers are summed up in this one heart-felt plea. The long answer is usually, “Yes!”

That’s the long answer…the one that gets backed up by varying degrees of, “But first we need to….” Sometimes that slows down the enthusiasm a bit. They are happy to know that it can be fixed, but put off by the amount of work it will take, the time until the results they are looking for show up, the part of the process and collaboration in which they will need to invest, and the cost, whether it is time, hours of work, or money.

If it was simple and easy, not only would everyone else have done it (“I just want to be able to sell my products and make a really good living.“), but it would likely result in a pretty mediocre solution (“Well, we kind of fixed that problem, but I didn’t realize all the other inter-connected parts to the business and what we’re trying to do…so really, I’m not so sure we fixed much.“) that might actually harm the business.

Here’s an example:

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Digital Media, Audio, and Video: It’s BOTH – AND!

Digital Audio Video

Can you hear me now?

Media choices: there seem to be a zillion of them! Curated links, status updates, ads, photos, graphics, GIFs  short videos, long videos, animations, audio podcasts, webinars, hangouts, blogs…..SHEEEESH!!  Look at all the options and it’s easy to just throw your hands up, post a picture of your cat and call it good…

Talk with solopreneurs and small business owners about digital marketing strategy and the need for a content strategy that maps to their business needs, the needs and desires of their audience…..well, it can seem complicated.

It’s not really. There are just a lot of choices.

Based on who you are trying to connect with and how they wish to be connected, that is the foundation. After that comes resources required / available, and the other deciding factors.

Let’s take a look at a couple of these: Video and Audio.

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JULY’s Best – Blogs, Strategy and Design, and Thriving at Work!

July blogs strategy thriving

July is Blooming!

July’s Best brings some familiar themes: blogs, strategy and planning, and making best use of your resources…

Business Blogs

Business Blogs

Blogging for business is hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, right? This article digs into 6 reasons why you should include a blog in your marketing. Take note of the business benefits listed….the effort pays off!

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Collaboration: The Action Side of Conversation

Collaboration

Collaboration

Collaboration is the action-oriented manifestation of dialogue.

I had an online conversation with a colleague during which we each remarked on the current snapshot of busy-ness we have (summer can be notoriously slow, depending on your business…I think the ice cream parlors pick up, but I digress…) and some of the projects we’re working on. Then she offered to “hop on a call” and look at some ways we could collaborate. This caught me by happy surprise, as I’ve never met her face-to-face, since she lives a continent away.

Her suggestion immediately sent my imagination reeling in a kind of high, fuzzy way. By that I mean that I couldn’t think of what such a collaboration might look like immediately, but the chance to take part in it opens up unknown possibilities….which are always exciting! While the possibility may mean work for me that I might not have done otherwise (filling out my “bandwidth” for the week, for sure….) the value of that work would be at the top for me.

Collaboration, as I mentioned earlier, is conversation in action. The shared listening and thoughts, the enlightenment and discovery, the humor and evolution of opinion and points-of-view result in an end-point of sorts that could not have been gotten to any other way.

  • Do you do this in your business?

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ONE THING to Drive Your Business

The One Thing!

The One Thing!

I have written previously about the obsession with THE ONE THING. In the case of my earlier article, it was the THING that you, as a business owner, feel could turn around your business or make a big splash, if you could only get it Just Right. My point in that article is that you need to step back and consider what you’re trying to accomplish, to see if that THING will actually move the needle, or if it is more of a “shiny thing” that you’re chasing, in hopes it will fulfill its perceived promise.

There’s another kind of ONE THING that can have an enormous impact on your business: Clarity of Communication. This breeds and establishes Understanding, which is not the same thing as simply communicating…

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Time Is Truth

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Time And Truth

Time And Truth

Time is Truth.

What that means is you invest time in the things that you feel are important. Work, play, rest, whatever…..time is a consumable and limited resource. Each of us gets 24 hours a day, and none of us knows EXACTLY how much of it we get in total. It’s limited. It’s also a most unpredictable predictable commodity, because there’s no telling, at any one time, when “life will intervene” and you will lose out on how you planned to use the time.

There’s a lot here about life and values, but let’s focus on business and profession.
Whether you go into an office of some kind or are working in some kind of structure for your work that doesn’t include an office, you likely spend more time in that work than almost anything else you do. This is particularly true of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Tack on all the “thinking / worrying about work” time to that, and it’s even more all-consuming.

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Keeping Up With The Raging Stream of Content

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Raging Stream of Content

A Raging Stream….of Content!

How can you possibly keep up with the constant stream of content you need to publish so you can attract new visitors and satiate the the existing ones? Oh, and it has to be really valuable, interesting, entertaining, and, you hope, draws them to you in a way that leads them to hire you or buy your stuff eventually.

First, have a strategy and plan.

How much content do you actually require to meet your business and marketing goals? That depends…..typical answer, but it’s true. Here are some sample goals you might have:

  • Raise awareness for your business
  • Increase sales or leads
  • Establish and maintain professional credibility with your audience
  • Provide helpful “How-To” content to your audience

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