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3 Priceless Email Marketing Lessons from Fatherly Advice

Practical Marketer - Reading Time: 11 Minutes

3 Priceless Email Marketing Lessons from Fatherly Advice

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Marketing Advice Stephen King Would Give You

Marketing Advice Stephen King Would Give You

Beyond • November 14, 2016

Writers have this obsession with getting to know the intimate work process of other writers. Famously, there was a recent exchange between iconic George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones and Stephen King, who have radically different approaches to crafting the written word. While Martin allows thoughts to marinate and can sometimes work an entire day producing only a paragraph or a page, King lets go completely. King’s freestyle writing is a lot of like what marketing is like. There’s rarely time to ponder decidedly over words and strategies - we just have to roll with it. So in the spirit of Halloween, we wonder how other pieces of advice from the master horror writer might fit into our work of marketing. King Says: Get To The Point Don’t waste your reader’s time with too much back-story, long intros or longer anecdotes about your life. Reduce the noise. Reduce the babbling. In On Writing King gets to his points quickly, Get to your point quickly too before your reader loses patience and moves on. In our world, that means get to your call of action quickly. Whether it’s a banner or a clickable or even a statement in a message, you want to make sure you’re making that point quickly and clearly. If possible, you present that Call To Action at least three ways in any given format. One should be a graphic, the other two clickable links with key phrases hyperlinked. King Says: Be Relatable and Honest Henrik Edberg of The Positivity Blog states, King has an honest voice in his fiction and in his memoir. He tells it like it is and makes us relate to him and his characters. Since King’s fiction often is of an odd kind with strange plots that seldom happen to normal people I think one of his strengths as a writer is being able to write relatable content anyway. For marketers, this is about values. You want to make sure you’re getting across that your brand as the same values as the client. But you also want to make sure you’re literally taking King’s advice. For instance, if you’re audience is moms, then you want to do two things: be brief and show value. Moms don’t have the time and they’ll make a purchase or convert to your brand if you can consistently show them value on their level. Visuals will also go a long way with most audience types. King Says: Don’t Waste Time Trying To Please People and Be Prepared To Fail A Lot King compares writing fiction to crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub, because in both, There\'s plenty of opportunity for self-doubt. Not only will you doubt yourself, but other people will doubt you, too. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that\'s all. This piece of advice is particularly useful for marketers. We get so caught up pleasing clients that we rarely take the type of creative and strategic risks needed to do our best work. Remember to be bold and true to yourself. You’re the expert. Your job is always going to be to convince the client to let you do what you want. Sometimes those ideas will work, sometimes they won’t. All that is part of the process.


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How Can I Integrate Social Media With My Emails?

How Can I Integrate Social Media With My Emails?

Practical Marketer • November 9, 2016

In this day and age when we talk about marketing—Digital and Physical—we know that content is a key component to drive results that help us reach our goals. In terms of tactics, we know that Email marketing has an ROI of $40 for each $1 invested and that social media is a powerful weapon when you need to get your content distributed. Another key for said success lays in having a Customer Experience orientation, meaning: creating an environment that allows your customers and the ones that aren’t yet, have the same experience each time they come in contact with your brand, no matter the channel. To achieve that, you need to combine different communication channels and media in an effective and creative way that maximizes your results. But, how do you start? 1. Define Where You’re Standing This is the year 2016 (no, really!), at this point of the game you should know that your email campaigns should contain at least links to your social profiles and that you should have an integration in place to let people sign up to your newsletter from your Facebook Fan Page,  if you’re not doing any of the two, ask yourself: where do you want to start? and what you need to get it rolling? A few ideas to get you started on the basics would be: Insert social media channel icons in your email Add a signup form to your Facebook fan page Define the social media goals that Email can help you achieve and vice versa Define which pieces of your content work better in any of these channels [caption id=\"attachment_2099\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"1400\"] An example of social media buttons in an email campaign.[/caption] 2. Facebook ‘Like’ Button Embedded in Your Emails Invite your subscribers to click the Facebook ‘Like’ button for your content, without them having to leave your email campaign. This makes it easier for them to: share your content, refer you to potential new clients and even launch contests based on the total of Likes and Shares for the content you send them. [caption id=\"attachment_2102\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"1200\"] The steps to include a \'Like\' Button in your email with Benchmark.[/caption] 3. Upload Your Lists to Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter A highly powerful method, to not only get in contact with your subscribers but to also understand them and get more from them, is uploading your lists to different social media channels. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and others, allow you to upload your email lists and the possibilities of what you can achieve are as endless as your creativity, some ideas you can try: Create targeted ad campaigns to people that are already interested in your brand Create groups or lists of people so you can send targeted messages and special offers Connect with your clients and understand their online behavior, that way you can keep improving their Customer Experience [caption id=\"attachment_2100\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"1400\"] Uploading a contact list to LinkedIn.[/caption] 4. Integrate Your Email With Your Social Media Channels Although there are integrations that automatically tweet or post your emails to your social channels when you send them, there are template integrations that pull your latest posts and data from your social profiles, making it easier for your followers to catch up on your social media activities right inside their inbox. [caption id=\"attachment_2101\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"1400\"] Benchmark Email\'s social media template integrations.[/caption] Wrapping up So there you have it, whether you are an experienced marketer or someone who is just getting started you should know that the possibilities are endless especially in the digital world, I would love to hear your ideas and how you have integrated social and email or other questions you might have.


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Squad Goals: Forming A Team For This Lean Journey

Squad Goals: Forming A Team For This Lean Journey

Lean Journey • November 8, 2016

In June, a handful of Benchmark employees were added to a new Slack channel and greeted with the following message from COO Denise Keller: Welcome to the Benchmark LEAN SQUAD You have all been individually recommended to join this new group to help us launch LEAN thinking at Benchmark. Lean is an exciting way of looking at everything we do with two clear goals in mind: 1) reducing waste and 2) making continuous improvements. I am going to have you start by watching an outstanding video that explains the concept.  I will also be sharing a PDF of the book here tomorrow. The goal of our squad is to get all 140+ of our team members living LEAN every single day.   The success of this will be dependent on having buy-in from everyone. One of my most favorite lines from the video is that “the genius is in the employees!”  That’s the beauty in that EVERYONE can contribute and make a difference. We will have our first squad meeting next week. With that, we all began our indoctrination to lean, and specifically, Paul Akers 2-Second Lean concept. We watched him speak on the ideals and read his book. I even invited him to join us for the Heart of Business podcast. It was time for our first Lean Squad meeting. Individuals from each worldwide office and region were in attendance, tasked with the question of how to implement a culture change at our company on a global scale. Each of us spoke and made suggestions on what needed to happen for lean to successfully launch at Benchmark. We agreed to pick a day to offer three times, to cover all time zones, for a mandatory meeting. In this meeting, everyone would watch Paul Aker’s speech on 2-Second Lean and a presentation would be given on what we wanted lean to mean to us at Benchmark. With that, the seeds of Lean were forever planted here at Benchmark. It will take some watering for the lean garden to continue to grow, but we had our start. I’m excited to continue updating you on how our Lean Journey has gone, as a Lean Squad member and someone who drank the Kool-Aid from the start.


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How to Drive Traffic to Your Email Subscription Landing Page

How to Drive Traffic to Your Email Subscription Landing Page

Beyond • November 7, 2016

Now that you designed and drafted your email subscription landing page, the next step is figuring out how to drive traffic to that landing page. This is the easy part. We’ll start with the obvious place: your website. You want a candy bar (long rectangular graphic) placed on your website either at the top or middle of your website and perhaps even the bottom after a reader has finished reading content. This should be a beautiful graphic that gets attention and stays within your brand scheme. If you’re a small start-up or budget-strapped enterprise solution, you can take a lean approach and use an inexpensive smartphone app like OVER to create a stunning custom graphic with an image of your choice and customizable text. It’s really key to make sure the graphic is eye-catching and not an amateur attempt or something that looks like it’s spam or advertising. If you’ve got It’s really key to make sure the graphic is eye-catching and not an amateur attempt or something that looks like it’s spam or advertising. If you’ve got Call To Action graphics or vivid banners on your page in other places, then this is a graphic that should seamlessly blend with that styling. If you’re going to opt for placing that graphic in multiple places across the website, then here’s what I recommend. Keep on linked graphic leading to your landing page in a consistent place like at the bottom of the page after If you’re going to opt for placing that graphic in multiple places across the website, then here’s what I recommend. Keep on linked graphic leading to your landing page in a consistent place like at the bottom of the page after the content is read. However, and especially if you website is not content heavy, you want to have a couple of alternating options at the top of the page. I choose top, middle, or bottom of a page because that’s where the reader’s eyes fall. The eyes rarely fall to the side, which is why website design has also evolved. You don’t see websites with a lot of buttons or graphics on the side anymore unless they’re advertising. Rather than the blogger type platforms, you’re seeing clear and clean pages with direct calls to action. Less is more so keep it clean with strategic graphics drawing your audience in and leading them to where you need them to be. I also recommend I also recommend linking to the landing page on the website unless you’re running a click-bait campaign to see which strategy works best. The click-bait campaigns work best for retail, but if you’re more focused on audience and readership, then you want a visibly linked landing page that is every present much like a lighthouse; it is visible and calling attention. Other places to link to your custom designed landing page include your email signature. An email signature is prime real estate and often entirely forgotten by people. But make it interesting. If you can link to a graphic, use a graphic. However, not that not everyone is able to view the graphic, especially if they’re using outlook. And if you’re relying on just text, then do something more creating than “subscribe to newsletters.” Again, language like this is asking people to do something and no one wants to stop what they’re doing to essentially do you a favor. Instead, just like your landing page is designed to create FOMO, your hyperlinked text should also create some buzz that gets people clicking. Ask a question or make a statement – whatever you do, just make it interesting. Other places to link to your custom designed landing page include your email signature. An email signature is prime real estate and often entirely forgotten by people. But make it interesting. If you can link to a graphic, use a graphic. However, not that not everyone is able to view the graphic, especially if they’re using outlook. And if you’re relying on just text, then do something more creating than “subscribe to newsletters.” Again, language like this is asking people to do something and no one wants to stop what they’re doing to essentially do you a favor. Instead, just like your landing page is designed to create FOMO, your hyperlinked text should also create some buzz that gets people clicking. Ask a question or make a statement – whatever you do, just make it interesting. In addition to your website and email signature, have a link on all social media platforms. The idea is to maximize visibility so that you can get the highest number of people directed toward a landing page that not only sells your email campaigns but spotlights a competitive brand.


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Why Is The Welcome Email An Important Time To Say Thanks?

Why Is The Welcome Email An Important Time To Say Thanks?

Practical Marketer • November 4, 2016

The very first email campaign should never be the very first impression you give a subscriber. After all, for it to be opt-in email marketing and not spam, they need to have signed up to receive your campaign either via a form or in person. However, it is the first time they’ll get to engage and interact with any of your emails. The most popular first campaign is a Welcome Email, a campaign that can be easily executed with automations. Subscribers are the lifeline to your email marketing efforts and it’s important to make them feel appreciated. So, say thank you. Here’s how: Say It Your welcome email is likely to be one of the most opened email campaigns you send. It’s when your company will be freshest in the minds of your new subscribers. The subject of this email can even be: Thank You For Subscribing. Say it early and often. Then say it once more. Mean It Building a list is a quality over quantity mission. You need subscribers who want to hear from you. When they opt-in, you need to use actions, more than words, to show them you appreciate it. This can be done with a coupon or special offer for new subscribers. Give them value for subscribing from the start. Keep Showing It Tell your subscribers what they should expect from future email campaigns in your welcome email. That way, they can feel valued from the start and will continue to look forward to receiving emails from you. It will pay off with each future open of your email campaigns. You will set yourself up for success moving forward, just being saying and showing how thankful you are from the start with your welcome email.


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How to Design and Draft Your Email Subscription Landing Page

How to Design and Draft Your Email Subscription Landing Page

Beyond • November 4, 2016

When companies say they want to throw out a newsletter, there’s typically a lot more that goes into it than one imagines. It’s a lot like when someone says they want to start a blog but have never done a blog before. In both instances, people are focused on the message; they’re not focused on the messaging and the delivery. They’re not thinking about the mechanics of the platform and what’s really needed to not just say something, but also be heard. Once you’re heard the next step is to make sure more people hear you. For those of us at the last step – how to make more people hear you – I’d like to introduce you to a novel concept that many of you haven’t thought of: the email subscription landing page. Landing pages are used to get someone to the last final climactic step before a conversion. This is where the bells and whistles come in to really get someone to hop on board. And this is why a landing page for your email campaigns matters because this is where you’re making the sale. Companies, especially enterprise level companies heavily reliant on the next level of growth, typically put out a link or a button for their audience to subscribe. But this isn’t making the same. In fact, this is stopping short. While it will certainly take some time to design a landing page for email sign ups, it’s necessary and in fact it’s a lean practice. Sometimes lean means doing more than doing less, especially when taking an extra step can guarantee you the results you need. So the next question is how should you design your landing page. Your landing page can be visibly linked within your site or hidden, accessible only through link click so you can track which method of leads and clickbait is working best. Either way, it should be designed with consistency in mind with your larger brand. It should have the same style, colors, image quality, etc. However – and this is big, however, – don’t design your page to look like you’re asking for something. Landing pages sometimes look like calls to subscriptions or donation. They look sad and desperate. This is not what you want. You do not want to make people think they need to give you anything, time, money, consideration, whatever it is, you don’t want people thinking of you as a charity case. Instead, design it to look like a magazine and create some major FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This creates an attitude shift that says, “I NEED to be a part of this.” Next up is the content. You want to cover the who, what’s and where’s but you want to keep the text light and simple, with a heavier focus on images. If there’s too much for people to read, you’ve lost them. You want the images being the real voice of the page and tweet-length text (140 characters roughly) guide people to the subscription point. You want a clear subscribe or “JOIN” button that draws attention. Contrary to what a lot of people think, you want a higher emphasis on visuals than content, even though your campaigns might be more content driven. Think of your landing page as the person trying to get people through the door to an event or party. If they’re attracting attention, they’ve going to get people interested. If they’re giving lectures or requiring more focus than the five seconds it takes someone to pass by, then you’ve lost them. Digital media really isn’t that much different than the real life example.


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Gmail Gets A Game-Changing Interactive Design Update

Gmail Gets A Game-Changing Interactive Design Update

Beyond • November 3, 2016

Last month, Gmail rolled out new email features that include font, styling and CSS accessibility, complete with a support team to help integrate users. It sounds like a lot of tech speak, but the thing to really understand is that Gmail has upgraded its email system to that system is more interactive. Let me explain - and let’s do that by stepping back in time. When social media hit its pinnacle, people thought email was dead. It wasn’t. As social media platforms sky-rocket it triggered a disconnected user pulled between way too many platforms that were all competing for attention. You’ll say that Facebook and Twitter still dominate along with Instagram, but let’s look at that super quickly. Facebook is facing controversy (even insurgency from within ranks) for increasingly censoring content and profiles. Twitter just went through a series of global hacks last week alone that limited user access and Instagram is just a pretty place for pictures with no possibility of serious content. That left email, which rose to the surface again in both importance and viability. The same thing is happening again with smartphone apps. There are simply too many mobile apps running the same course social media platforms did. There can be only one - it seems - and email is it again. In fact, email through mobile is the preferred method of digital communication even over desktop email portals. Medium’s Dave Bailey calls email the enduring “dark horse,” namely because in the face of shifting methods of tech use, email still dominates. Namely, you own your email (which can’t be said for social media platforms or mobile apps). Bailey also comments on emails increased interactive capabilities by first pointing out the myth. MYTH: “Since emails have no JavaScript, the programming language behind most web interactions, we tend to think of emails as a ‘read-only,’ one-way channel; good for sharing calls to action that get people back to your website.” REALITY: “What most people don’t realize is that CSS3 does allow for basic interactions, like switching tabs, without any JavaScript at all. Mark Robbins of RebelMail describes a technique called ‘Punch Card Coding’ that uses CSS alone to allow users to click buttons that change what they see on screen, essentially by having every permutation as a different ‘tab’.” If it still sounds completely foreign, check out the example Bailey shared about how the screen data and imaging can change in real-time without your users have to click a button and re-routed to another page. If you consider that there are one billion Gmail users as of February 2016 - and 90.7 million of them use the Gmail app - you’re looking at a completely game-changing way to sell.


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The Attitude Of Gratitude: Three Ways To Nourish Brand Generosity

The Attitude Of Gratitude: Three Ways To Nourish Brand Generosity

Beyond • November 2, 2016

As we enter the last two months of the year and begin executing our holiday marketing plans, there’s a shift in our sentiment toward our audience and each other. In addition to the nostalgia of everything that’s happened over the last year, reflection on how far we’ve come, there’s also a spirit of generosity. As we roll into the Thanksgiving holidays, this next month is really the most celebrated time of year to give back. For a lot of brands, it’s difficult to find soul and spirit of giving when marketing and profit expectations have us largely wound up and oriented toward the bottom line. When you pair this with margin goals many enterprise level companies have (which often need to be met in order to receive bonuses), it gets even more divisive to think of giving when you’re focused on gaining. However, the practice of giving and maintaining steam engine momentum of your business don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You don’t have to sacrifice one in order to do the other. You can do both. Donate A Portion Of Sales During the next month, there are many opportunities for folding in giving in a number of ways that can reflect your business in the most personal way. The simplest way is to dedicate a portion of sales during the month, a particular sale day, to a specific charity. Let’s say you have a doggy grooming business, which case perhaps the most poignant way to give back so to offer a percentage of sales to go toward an animal shelter, a rescue service or even the Humane society. This is a favorable way to give back because it requires the most minimal logistics and investment of time and resources to set up. The only thing you have to do is advertise the sale, including it in your email campaigns, social media channels and website. You’d also want to make a big deal of the giving, especially if you’ve raised a nice sum. Contact the charity and express your desire, and see if they’ll allow you to record a live feed of it, create a shareable video to take some photos - all of which are looped back into social media feeds. Highlight Members Of Your Audience If you’re looking for more of an intimate and profound way to give back, you can do so by highlighting select members of your audience. Thanksgiving season isn’t just about physical or monetary gains - that’s not the only way to give. When you go around the Thanksgiving table, we take a moment to acknowledge each other. No one says you can’t do the same with your audience. Select a handful to showcase and create a profile for. Maybe you’re doing one per day during Thanksgiving week. To carry this out, create a warm but concise profile of the audience/customer sharing what makes them special and why you’re thankful for them. Be sure to include at least one high-quality photo and some links to their work, website, or cause. By doing this, you’re not only spotlighting gratitude but you’re also interconnecting your network. Create A Practice Of Giving The third route is to embrace corporate social responsibility by creating a practice of giving that infuses regular or even seasonal charity with your brand. The best way forward here is to work with a special consultant so you can be guided through the process in a way that allows you to make the most of your time and effort so your company can be both impactful and gain greater visibility in the community.


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How Can I Overcome Email Marketing Horrors?

How Can I Overcome Email Marketing Horrors?

Practical Marketer • October 31, 2016

You won’t hear it as much, but there are days in email marketing where it may seem like a Final Destination and everywhere you turn, there is some hair-raising event that might be the end of you. Things like sending an email in error or sending to the wrong list, large numbers of spam and unsubscribe complaints, or disappearing emails or lists. You might be thinking, “that will never happen to me,”  the characters in Final Destination didn’t either! After spending some time in support, taking calls and helping email marketing software users handling tough situations, receiving a call that a sender had sent an email in error, or that the email has errors is quite common. We’re all human so we make mistakes, but this can be a nightmare if people notice the problem, especially if it\'s big like missing an entire section. So what can you do to avoid accidentally sending an email? There are a couple of ways to prevent this nightmare. Don’t link or associate your list to the email when you create the email. This will prevent you from accidentally sending to the wrong people. Some services may require you to select a list before continuing creating the campaign, if that is the case, create a test list with your colleagues so if you accidentally send the email, it is to someone you know. Some services may be able to stop an email from sending but it is not recommended. Regardless of the infrastructure that the email is sent with, one an email is sent and received in the subscriber’s inbox, there is no way to reach in there to take it back. All the service may be able to do then is stop the remaining subscribers from receiving the incorrect email. Then when you are done and the email is good to go, then associate the campaign with your list. Now you’re sending your email to your subscribers, but murphy’s law applies. The next horrific ordeal you’ll have to go through is a bunch of people unsubscribing and clicking spam. Unfortunately, the damage is done. You can recover by cleaning your list and definitely getting rid of those unsubscribes and complainants. You can also prevent this ordeal from happening by using a tactic called Double Opt-in. Double opt-in is that email a subscriber receives after signing up to a list. It’s a little annoying, but it plays an important part. This double opt-in email will filter the contacts who just want a little nibble of what you got, from the ones who want to be your subscriber and not cause you problems. Without it, who knows what kind of people will sign up to your list. Another common panic-inducing nightmare that does happen, are lists and email drafts disappearing. It happens to the best of us, but that feeling of panic that sets in when you see, or rather, don’t see that item where it’s supposed to be. Hopefully, you have a backup of the email or the of the list, right? It’s a good idea to have a backup but what can you do when you’re just not that lucky. There is a silver lining just like any horror movie and it although it doesn’t apply to every situation, it’s a chance of survival. It’s ideal to have a separate backup of your list in another system, or as it’s own backup file. If your list is missing, you wouldn’t have to start over, but you may not be able to get back all missing contacts by going back to your previous email reports. If your system allows, you might be able to view your contacts and restore them that way. For email drafts that have gone missing, it might be trickier. Much like recovering your missing list, it won’t be perfect and it might be a version that was being worked on, better than starting all over. If you have sent yourself a test email or a sample email to a colleague for review, that is your backup. Without getting too technical, the HTML code of that email is what you want to get and use, essential as a template. Sometimes there is a message at the bottom saying the email is a sample, that can still be removed in the HTML code.


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If Stanley Kubrick Was Your Marketing Director

If Stanley Kubrick Was Your Marketing Director

Beyond • October 28, 2016

In the last post, we talked about the hypothetical scenario of Alfred Hitchcock walking into your office and taking over your marketing department. But what if that someone was Stanley Kubrick? We know Halloween is around the corner but nothing can be quite as terrifying as two of film history’s greatest directors tag teaming on a brand or campaign. It’s truly terrifying - and yet equally exhilarating and even a little bit intimidating. Hitchcock and Kubrick are both suspense builders but in a completely different style. Hitchcock gives little in the way of effects and costumes. Less is more with him. His storytelling is like stage theater - just enough to build the story then he pulls you in to help him build the rest. Kubrick is quite the opposite. He can be ostentatious with cult classics like 2001 Space Odyssey, Full Metal Jacket, The Shining, and A Clockwork Orange. Like Hitchcock, he doesn’t make the storytelling obvious but allows it to unfold. However, he does like to use compelling visuals and sound to drive the story. He likes to make his audience deeply uncomfortable. The hallmark of a Kubrick film is that it leaves you unsettled. Whether it was the space scenes in 2001 Space Odyssey paired with unlikely music that seemed almost discordant to the viewer, to the film’s eerie all-knowing psychopathic Hal or even the ominous monolith, the fact is you felt uncomfortable. The same goes for this other films, especially in A Clockwork Orange that blurred the lines between right and wrong, hero and villain, where Kubrick relished pushing boundaries with jarring scenes right up to the very end. Coming in as marketing director, he’s going to want your brand to do the same. Take creative risks, take advantage of multimedia marketing opportunities, and pair unlikely elements to create something that isn’t just a cliche attempt at art. He’s going to want your marketing team to create something that makes people uncomfortable enough to be unsettled. This is different from controversy; you’re not just being provocative, you’re also being thoughtful. Just like Hitchcock, Kubrick builds up the story without being obvious about its direction. Once he’s at the end of the story, once the message is ready to be shared or the punchline revealed, it is different from most stories out there today. It’s different because it isn’t obvious. Translate this to a brand by getting rid of the cheap slogans and cliche marketing pieces, opting instead to build narratives that push larger stories. What Kubrick is going to recognize is that his role as marketing director is essentially not that different from being a film director. Both roles have the same elements in play and require planning and orchestration. The real difference between Hitchcock and Kubrick is how both would actually work together for one brand or campaign. This is where you divide and conquer. Hitchcock style is best for content, while Kubrick would be exquisite for audio/video storytelling. The real challenge is pairing both styles for graphic design work and branding.


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If Alfred Hitchcock Was Your Marketing Director

If Alfred Hitchcock Was Your Marketing Director

Beyond • October 27, 2016

What if you could have one of the most iconic and visionary directors step into the role of marketing director? What if that someone was the legendary Alfred Hitchcock? Hitchcock is known for his signature style of strategic storytelling and stage direction to create an air of suspense for his viewers. So the question is, what would Hitchcock bring to the table if he was at the masthead of your company? Ask anyone what made Hitchcock so captivating and they would tell you it was the story. In today’s era, which relies on sensationalism and dazzling visuals, Hitchcock would seem rather outdated. However, even today people are drawn to this classics like Rebecca, Vertigo, Rear Window, The Birds, Psycho and even the Alfred Hitchcock Hour of short vignettes with stories that still tap into something in us. That something comes from the art of storytelling - equally as powerful today as it was fifty or five hundred years ago. Stepping up to the marketing helm the first thing Hitchcock would do is assess your storytelling method - in other words, how you build your messaging - and then he’d gut it. Hitchcock preferred to create a non-linear timeline, knowing that an A to Z timeline is predictable but a pattern of conversation is much more captivating. That’s what Hitchcock often carried out in his films: building through character dialogue. So rather than telling or pushing your message on your audience, Hitchcock would bring marketing minions to the roundtable and brainstorm ways to build narratives through dialogue. When you are building that dialogue, Hitchcock would ensure that your brand doesn’t lay all their cards on the table. He’d want to layer the story and add new dimensions without ever getting to a clear punchline. In practical terms, even if your brand is the solution, you want to explore every cavity of the problem you’re facing. Your job is to treat the problem like a carefully constructed plot that you’ll guide the audience through rather than treating the problem with some clumsy whack-a-mole plan. That’s where Hitchcock’s mastery really comes in. He never gives all the details. In fact, the brilliance of his storytelling - and what makes his brand so timeless - is in the fact that he allows the audience to contribute in the dialogue and build it up with near equal participation as key figures themselves. For Hitchcock, the story would become the brand. That is why the name “Hitchcock” precedes him more powerfully than any story he told. This is a powerful potential for any company that is branching out into different brands or a diving into other markets. Use the Hitchcock guide to storytelling to build the conversation alongside your audience while your competition is trying to master it. With information moving as quickly as it does - with the proverbial real world plot thickening - it’s going to be impossible to be ahead of the story controlling it at every turn, every time. You’re better off building the story with and through your audience rather than for them.


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Sales & Support: We Found Our Guy

Sales & Support: We Found Our Guy

Going Global • October 26, 2016

In the early days, questions of sales and support and who would handle them needed to be answered. I knew it would not be easy. Thankfully, I was able to find the person for the job. Our support consisted of email and chat support in the first year. Virender was our lone support agent. We found him through chance after testing with some miserable results a few other choices. He possessed the qualities we were looking for, honesty and integrity, with a super strong work ethic and of course the communication skills that were required. He has proved to be one of the smartest things we ever did at Benchmark. He worked tirelessly for 12 hours per day, six days a week, responding to chats and emails. Any phone calls we handled locally, but eventually, he handled those as well. In 2006-2007, we saw more of the same. Eventually, we opened an office in Gurgaon. Again, I wanted to keep it inexpensive. Our early office did not even have A/C. If you have ever been to the Delhi/Gurgaon area, you know all about the relentless heat and dryness ... until the welcomed rains come, which kept coming later and later in the year and lasting shorter and shorter. We added the A/C in relatively short order to keep the sanity and peace. However, now we had to deal with power outages that would last many hours at a time (sometimes more than 8 hours). Next, we got a battery backup system, but then our batteries were getting drained. So eventually we moved to a location that allowed us to use a diesel generator, but then we were running out of fuel. Our office boys would run down and get fuel to fill up our generators, all while managing daily chores with all the other requirements of trying to grow and manage an office in India. Eventually, of course, we moved to a more modern and expensive facility where all these basic utility necessities were taken care of. One question you might ask is how did India Sales develop? I think in the first 3-5 years, we did not even attempt to sell our services in India as we were so focused on support for the US. In addition, following email marketing best practices was not widely practiced in India. Truth is, it was not practiced that well in US much either. However, India was a bit more wild in terms of harvesting or purchasing lists and we had to be careful. Since then it\'s gotten much better, but we still have to be on alert. [caption id=\"attachment_3055\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"1024\"] Our sales & support team in India would soon grow to what you see here, but Virender is there front and center (in the white shirt).[/caption] The fact that Virender was our only support person for a while is a testament to his hard work and trustworthiness. The time difference between Delhi and California varies from 12 to 13 ½ hours depending on Daylight Savings Time. This put a lot of stress on Virender, as he was basically working from 6:00PM to 6:00 AM, six days a week. Not an easy chore. Eventually, we added more people to help Virender. As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons we decided to support and develop from India was due to cost. Back in 2005-2009, we were able to hire college graduates who spoke and wrote pretty good English for $200-$400 per month (wow!). These savings allowed us to be profitable from the very beginning. Some early technology support questions we needed to sort out include how and if we were going to provide phone support from India. Two issues we faced here were the heavy accent and doing voice over IP, which was not as refined back then. We did get some complaints, but I think that was balanced by the professionalism and extreme courtesy our representatives gave our customers. One thing about the Hindu culture is they take pleasure in doing a good job serving their customers, especially when they are western. In my next blog, I will identify more challenges and talk about the move to a more global company.


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Why Are Email Marketing And Surveys A Freaky Good Combo?

Why Are Email Marketing And Surveys A Freaky Good Combo?

Practical Marketer • October 25, 2016

It’s been said many times on this blog, in our webinars and other discussions about the benefits of email marketing, but we’ll say it once more: the expected ROI for email marketing is $40 for every $1 spent. A big reason for that is how connected to email your subscribers already are in the first place. For that same reason, surveys serve as a powerful tool when combined with your email marketing efforts. Connect In A Space Engagement Already Exists If you’re using best practices for email marketing and maintaining a clean list, then you should have a list full of individuals who regularly open your email campaigns, click on links and, in general, look forward to receiving communications from you. So, sending a survey via email isn’t exactly a cold call. You’re reaching out in a space where they’re already opted-in to hearing from you. Surveys are just one more approach in the long list of ways you can do great, effective email marketing and maximize that ROI. Gain Valuable Feedback Surveys give a voice to your subscribers. They let you know if you’re delivering on the promises you’ve made and if your customers are happy. Use surveys to gauge the successes and failures of your marketing initiatives, branding and more. They must be used sparingly, as you don’t want to overwhelm your customers, but when sent at the proper times can be highly effective. Learn Your Net Promoter Score You’ve probably been sent a survey in the last year or so by a company looking to determine their Net Promoter Score without even realizing it. The brand likely asked how likely you were to recommend their goods or services to a friend, on a scale of 1-10. They would then subtract the percentage of Detractors (score of 0-6) from the percentage of promoters (9-10) to determine their NPS on a range of -100 to 100. This gives you a read on your customer’s experience and predicts business growth.


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