Signature of Approval!

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 (We just returned from the Cyber Defense Summit 2017 in Las Vegas.  Leading up to the Summit we worked with customers to create videos and quotes that were used throughout the event.  Our trip to Australia to film customers resulted in such great content we expedited processes and went from filming in one country to showing our videos on the main stage of the event 12 days later! 

Love this photo, Freud Alexandre, the Enterprise Architect and Security Manager for the City of New Orleans (and one of our favorite people!), was so happy to be featured he autographed his banner.  That is the signature of approval! What we like to see with all our customer deliverables.

October – National Cyber Security Awareness Month

ncsam National Cyber Security Awareness Month was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure everyone has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. This marks year 14!  The website has a wealth of resources from tip sheets to suggested social media posts and links to training and educational resources.  There is a great infographic here about how to get involved.  Each week of the month has a unique theme from online safety to protecting infrastructure from cyber threats.  The site is a great resource, visit to learn more. We're all responsible in keeping our personal, company, and client information safe, make sure you are well informed. Staysafeonline.org is a great place to start.

 

 

Dress code - does your company have one?

This recent blog post from 4Imprint about dress codes was interesting.  In general, attire is much more casual than it used to be.  Of course that varies dramatically by region, by industry and other factors.  We do have a dress code in our employee handbook and we do talk to new hires, especially recent college grads, about what is appropriate to wear to the office, what is appropriate to wear to events where they are representing us or our clients, and what to wear in casual work situations.  College really doesn’t teach that!  The blog post recommends an employee fashion show, illustrating clothing dos and don’ts.  We gathered photos from various places for our own do or don’t wear illustrations. Being specific, with photos or a fashion show, helps ensure everyone has a common understanding of what is appropriate for your company and what you mean when you say terms like “business casual”. Two of the sentences of our dress policy often referred to are: “A good rule of thumb is that if you are not sure if something is acceptable, choose something else or inquire first. Also, it is generally better to be overdressed than underdressed.”  Both are good points to keep top of mind.

We are a professional consulting team which is reflected in the work we do and also in how we present ourselves. In office or off site client meetings call for professional dress while Fridays are often more casual. It is rather nice to see a suit and tie once in awhile! Does your company have a dress code?

Already Fall!!

Fall The year is going so quickly, hard to believe that today is the first day of Fall.  Even in sunny California the weather has turned a bit cooler, a leaf or two is about to change color, and pumpkin spice is ubiquitous. 

In the Southern Hemisphere it’s the first day of spring so our two team members on their way to Australia will experience another week of warmth and sunshine!  We hope they have a chance to enjoy it between rounds of customer interviews and filming.  Here, we will sip a pumpkin spice latte or two to usher in the new season!

It is the summer’s great last heat, It is the fall’s first chill: They meet. –Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

Longer attention span: your target audience or a goldfish?

Longer attention span: your target audience or a goldfish? Hard to believe but the average person’s attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish! An article in Time Health quotes a Microsoft study which shows a human will pay attention for 8 seconds and a goldfish for 9! Our digital lifestyle may make us better multitaskers but we’re also easily distracted. There is a lot of content out there, coupled with short attention spans, it’s not easy to stand out from the crowd.

This  post from RO Innovation makes the case that video can be the way to go instead of the case study format. Our brains actually process video faster than text.

Think about how video might work for you as you share stories of your customers and your brand. Our clients have a clear need for written content but we’re seeing an increase in the desire for video. Often times our interviews will become both short and compelling video pieces and a complimentary case study with greater detail. We’re about to send a team to Australia for a second time this year to create video and written case studies for our clients. There are a lot of interesting customer stories among Australian businesses! Whether your customer is in Australia or right next door, think about the format which will tell their story best.

2 clients, 2 projects, 3 days, over 300 phone calls!

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phone photo

We had two projects overlap this week.  One client needed us to follow up on survey results and another asked us to invite customers to participate in an important event.  Both projects were at the stage where it was time to leave email behind and make phone calls. Between the two projects, two team members have made over 300 phone calls quickly, all in just a few days.  One person even came in at 5:30 AM so he could connect with the East coast early in their business day.  We were able to exceed goals for both projects.  We did leave a lot of voicemails but had great conversations with everyone who answered their phone.  A conversation is a great chance to meet your objective but also check in with advocates, see what other activities they might be interested in, see if anything has changed for them or their company, and answer questions. A lot of talking, but well worth the time!

Our Interns, and Summer, Are Almost Gone!

Hard to believe it but school is about to begin for our interns, and school starting is often seen as the sybolic end of summer.  It’s been great having them with us.  Two are employees of one of our clients, which we have hosted in our office, and one we claim as our very own.  So many benefits, for both them and us.  They have learned much of the ins and outs of customer advocacy but that’s only the beginning.  With very little experience in an office beforehand they also learned communication skills, how to dress, business etiquette for meetings, and that lunch with your friends might allow for a different set of manners than when in a work setting.  They all go to great colleges but there is a lot about day to day behavior in the workplace that they have no way to learn until they are in the workplace! 

We benefit as well.  Nothing like having your documentation tested by someone with fresh eyes and that has never used any of the referenced applications!  We’ve been able to accomplish much more with their help. While we might have to do some teaching or reviewing they have been able to contribute from day one, allowing us to get to ‘wish list’ projects.  Having interns also provides a growth opportunity for Referential staff. Mentoring others is valuable experience and we did match each intern to staff for the bulk of their work. 

Being honest, we’re looking for a great pool of talent to help us not only in the summer but throughout the school year and just possibly to join Referential, or one of our clients, once they graduate.  We’ve had interns for years and the set we have now is great, we’ve been very happy to work with them.  And we must thank them for introducing us to a wonderful fried chicken restaurant, another benefit!

IDC Research: The Role of Marketing in Customer Advocacy

Our partner, Influitive, has a variety of great resources for those in the customer advocacy field.  One is recent research from IDC, The Role of Marketing in Customer Advocacy which you can download here.   The world has changed, how buying decisions are made has changed, and customer advocacy is more crucial than ever for continued business success. The report has interesting commentary and charts about how advocate marketing staff splits their time among their many responsibilities and which advocate marketing tactics are most common.  There is also discussion of common barriers and suggestions for key success metrics.  The research concludes with recommendations for success. 

This is worth a read.  Let us know if the content resonates with you.  Is this is what you are seeing in your industry, with your clients?  Interested in your thoughts!

Take Your Vacation - All Of It!

Last year fully 54% of American workers did not use all their vacation according to this post from Business 2 Community written by Kristen Carlson.  Taking time away to refresh and recharge is valuable but do you know just how valuable? This article from Inc by Lolly Daskal has some interesting statistics. When we do go on vacation 3 out of 5 of us do some work, some more than others! If you don’t take your vacation you’re likely to have higher stress levels and negatively impact both your cardiovascular health and even your year end performance rating!

At Referential we believe taking vacation is important.  We just did a quick mid-year reminder to everyone of how much vacation they have already used this year and how much they still have available. We encourage early planning for time off at the holidays, which is really important for us as our clients still need our services. We are open and stagger time out of the office so as to continue to provide coverage.  We discourage carry over, we’d rather people take their full vacation and get the associated benefits each year.  So far team members have had staycations, attended music festivals, visited the Caymans, the Dominican Republic, Spain, France, and Seattle, to name just a few places, with more exciting locations in plan.

Be among those that take all of their vacation time each year!  You’ll feel better and perform better as well.

Localization - most marketers aren't happy with results

Do you localize content?  Some of our clients do.  We’re involved as we have on staff native speakers of several languages and are able to localize, not just translate. A recent study from the CMO Council surveyed marketers for information about the state of localization in their company and is summarized in this article on MarTech Today by Amy Gesenhues.  A full 75% of CMOs invest less than 10% of their budgets for localization and, regardless of spend, a large majority are unhappy with the results. Of the total surveyed only about one third felt they were doing well or were very advanced in this area.  

The report address the broad issues of localization, it’s certainly not language alone. For international content one must address everything from number, currency and date formats to colors and visual images plus so much more.  Even strictly within US borders localization efforts are also applied to content due to large differences across the population. it is important to change your content to best meet the needs of various locales. Localization is a complicated area!  

Get the full report here  for insights on marketers views about localization efforts and see how your company compares. 

Facebook: 500 New Users Every 60 Seconds

Whether personally or professionally, it’s likely you use Facebook.  Just last month Facebook hit the milestone of 2 billion, yes billion, users.  Nearly 25% of the world’s population uses Facebook.  These stats and others are in a recent post from Business2Community by Mandy Edwards, 20 Facebook Statistics for 2017, here.   Did you know Shakira has the most Facebook fans of any musician? Or that 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound?

From a business perspective 40% of Facebook users have never liked a business page, yet Facebook is the social platform marketers say is most important.  If you have decided Facebook is a good channel for your business, how do you make your business page stand out? Are you reaching your social, and more specifically, your Facebook goals?  Let us know.

We work with the best!

There is a great article from Forbes about the world’s most influential CMOs.  They name the top 50.  Forbes teamed with Sprinklr and LinkedIn to compile the list.  Their criteria included impact on brand performance, impact on brand awareness, external and internal influence, and influence on peers. An impressive list of CMOs indeed! Worth a read for more information about their shared characteristics. We are proud to say our clients are well represented on the list.  4 of the top 13 are clients, showing their appreciation of and concern for the influence their customers can have.  Congratulations to all of course and extra congratulations to our clients!

Good Things Come in Threes - Three Interns!

Good things do come in threes and in our case it means three interns this summer.  We have an intern working on a variety of Referential projects. The other two interns are with us courtesy of one of our clients that wanted increased resources for their projects this summer.  Each Monday for the last 3 weeks one has started.  They are students at St Mary’s, UC Berkeley, and Cal State East Bay, with a variety of majors.  We’ve paired them with “buddies” to help train and mentor them.  It’s great to add to the pool of advocacy experts.  And in case you are wondering about the phrase ‘good things come in threes’, read this blog post from Historically Speaking.  The examples range from the three little pigs, genies always granting three wishes, to a saying from Confucius.   

And from StackExchange:  Good Things Come In Threes - has a definite positive connotation. From fairytales to Hollywood blockbusters, “the rule of three” (Latin-"omne trium perfectum") principle suggests things that come in threes are inherently more humorous, satisfying and effective than any other number of things. 

We certainly believe that good things do come in threes!

 

 

Video in Australia

pexels-photo-68704We have two team members headed to Australia for video shoots.  They should be there now but their flight got cancelled last night so they have a ‘fun’ day working from LA.  Fingers crossed that they jet off tonight.  It would be nice to have a day to adjust rather than having to run from a 17 hour flight straight to the customer site!    We’re seeing more and more use of video with customer advocacy, and for good reason.  This article from Insivia has some very interesting statistics, 27 Stats About Video in 2017.  Bottom line, people are viewing a lot of video, more every day.  Executives are viewing and sharing video, 4X as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it, and marketers who use video grow revenue faster than those who don’t. The stats in the article have links to the source so you can learn more.  The article has a lot of information which helps reinforce the importance of video.   

If you are using video great.  If not, give it a serious thought and give us a call so we can show you how effective video can be in your advocacy work and help you join the majority of marketers using video.

Email Trends

An interesting article and infographic from ReachMail  here. "Work Email Trends After Hours”.  They surveyed 1000 people who consider email important to their work, in the US, about their email use and discovered some interesting trends and even regional differences, here are a few:

  • 49% of millennials have never sent a work email after 9pm
  • 75% of us check work email on our days off
  • 71% of us on the West Coast check email on vacation vs. 61% of the total surveyed 

It’s interesting information.  Not only is email important for our work we use email with many of our clients as the fundamental way to interact with their customers.  Looking at this information can give us some insight into responses.   

What fact did you find most surprising?  How about that only 54% feel they receive more email now than they did 3 years ago! I don’t know about you but we get lots more!

Beat the Lock - Almost!

Well we almost did it. With the very last clues in our hand, solving the last puzzle, to open the last lock, time was up!  From their website, Beat the Lock is described as: an interactive adventure experience where you and your friends are locked in a themed room to piece together clues, decipher codes and solve puzzles to ultimately find the key to escape!   Beat the Lock 3

You have an hour to solve myriad types of puzzles, open all sorts of locks, which lead to more clues for more puzzles! In our theme we were looking for jewels hidden by Grandma Edna so we could have our rightful inheritance. We had an hour to find the jewels before pesky relatives would arrive to stake their claim. 

And we almost did it! It requires teamwork and communication and is bounded by time pressure. Just in case any of you do a similar experience we don’t want to share details but suffice to say it’s a great team building experience and even though we didn’t Beat the Lock we did have great fun!

A great use of 30 minutes

Want to make good use of 30 minutes?  Read the blog post from Salesforce,  here, and follow some – or all – of the suggestions for improving your sales skills. We are all selling all the time even if sales is not our official role.  The blog post is a quick read with several different activities you can do, each with an estimate of the time commitment.  They are a good starting point for any of us.  If you want to know more there is a link to download 100 sales tips. 

See below for one tip, check out the post for more and remember to keep moving!

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Thoughts on Productivity

It was a siesta for Winston Churchill, even in the midst of the Second World War. Instead of getting more done aim to have less to do in the first place. Be realistic, and doing it all may not be realistic. Being industrious isn’t enough, after all even ants are industrious. Give your employees recognition and praise, productivity rises.  Those ideas are from “30 Real Quotes on Productivity You Can Relate To, How billionaires, writers, leaders, and philosophers think about productivity”.   Read it here

It’s worth a visit to read these great quotes about productivity from a very diverse set of individuals including Warren Buffett, Stephen King, Bruce Lee, and so many more. You are bound to find a favorite and, hopefully, inspiration. Remember this for the next time you need to move from procrastination to action! Tell us which quote you like most or share your favorite quote from another source.

Advocacy - there's a science to it

What motivates someone to share their opinion?  How can you influence them to try to persuade others? A recent article  from Stanford Graduate School of Business titled “Where Do Advocates Come From?” cites a range of research into advocacy. Professor S. Christian Wheeler and PhD graduate Omair Akhatar coauthored a study which found that you can persuade people with fixed attitudes to advocate by positioning it as an opportunity to stand up for their views, rather than as one to engage in dialogue. And for people that believe attitudes can change, the opposite is true.

Another cited study showed that those who are uncertain are more likely advocates than those who are moderately certain!  Titled “the Curvilinear Relationship Between Attitude Certainly and Attitudinal Advocacy by Lauren Cheatham and Zakary Tormala confirms what we often see, those that are very certain on a topic are more likely to be advocates than others. Their surprising study shows advocacy has a J curve, peaking with those highly certain, lowest for those of moderate certainty, and rising again for those with low certainty. They found people with low certainty do share their views, they often want to gather further information, and are open for discussion. Someone highly certain can come across as judgmental, not so those in the low certainty category.

Interesting thoughts. We need to take time to frame our discussions and messages appropriately and not overlook those advocates that still have questions. Science can help us be more effective. What do you think of these conclusions?

You have 37 seconds!

The average reader will spend only 37 seconds on your blog post or article according to recent research from Business 2 Community.  See their infographic here.  It has statistics and trends for content marketing in 2017.    While a successful bull ride is only 8 seconds, 37 seconds is terribly short when you think about your content and your audience. The infographic has a wide range of additional information about content - from percent of emails now opened on mobile devices (53%) to the percent of tweets with images that are retweeted (150%) compared to those without photography or graphics. 

Content does impact the experience your customers have with your brand, it’s worth looking at this information and thinking through your content strategy.  Does this confirm or contradict what you are seeing?  Which stat did you find most surprising? Will there be changes to how you approach content in 2017?  Comment below.