Marketing blogs - reviews of the best

This blog post is one of about 2.5 million that will be published today. A number that is growing.  So how do you find quality content?  Specific to content marketing blogs this article  from SnapApp offers a good starting point. They scoured the web, reviewing blogs based on quality, frequency, and reader engagement and came up with a list of 109.

Now 109 is still a lot but they have divided them into 14 categories – social media, account based marketing, and marketing technology , to name just a few. In addition, there is a short description of each and a link to a recommended post.  With this list you are bound to find helpful sources of information. 

How many will you start to follow? Which are already on your favorites list?

Nominating customers for awards - everyone wins especially when Referential writes the nomination!

One of the most gratifying activities we get involved with is creating a successful award nomination – nothing beats seeing the look on a client’s face when they learn that they just won a major award!

We collaborate with our clients to target specific industry awards for the coming year and then work with account teams to identify noteworthy candidates; either individuals, teams, or whole companies. We typically then do a short interview with the lead nominee and put together a submission for the individual award. Then it’s out of our hands!

We have a stellar track-record for nominations that get picked as winners and category finalists. We are very proud to have Deutsche Bank win a very prestigious award for an IT Risk Management project at a ceremony just held in Munich – the recipient notified us from the banquet hall floor! See their photo below. We also were delighted to hear that Johnson & Johnson received one of the top prizes at the latest Dell annual conference. However, not all our submissions are for large corporations: We championed a regional consumer services provider and were equally excited to be notified that they will be presented with the “Best in Class Contact Center” honor at a major industry event to be held in June in the US. All three happened in the last month and all were nominations written by our mangeing partner, David Feber.

Irrespective of the ultimate outcome, we repeatedly see major returns from even just submitting a client for an award – all too often people don’t get positive feedback, so being nominated is understandably viewed as being a huge deal! We’ve found that for a modest amount of work, the payback is dramatic and the sense of goodwill lasts for a long time – we highly recommend it!

Olaf receiving KC Award 2018
Olaf receiving KC Award 2018

Worldwide Business Etiquette Insight from Referential's Lynn Watts

At Referential we work with clients from all over the world and we have staff in the US, the UK, and India. There are many similarities between the way business is conducted throughout the world, but there are also differences that need to be considered. There are differences in greeting style if meeting face to face, how to address others in correspondence, communications may require an interpreter, and varied meeting structures to name a few. Some business cultures are quite relaxed in style, while others are serious or regimented. As Advocacy Consultants we spend a lot of time corresponding with people globally, so to avoid confusion it’s important not to use slang expressions or local idioms that could be misinterpreted. We need to be mindful that in some countries people expect to be addressed formally. For example, in Germany and The Netherlands it is standard to address people using their academic title. Someone with a PhD should be addressed as Doctor and titles should be used until you are given permission to use their first name. When in doubt, erring on the side of formality is safest.

In order not to offend the people you are interacting with, it is important to consider and adapt to how business professionals operate in different parts of the world. There is no global standard of business etiquette. What might be commonplace in one culture could be unusual or even offensive in another. Where possible, do your research in advance of professional interactions with international clients. When in doubt, ask. People are very helpful and like to advise about what is and isn’t acceptable in their culture.

Derin Cag at Richtopia provides a very enlightening article and infographic to further illustrate this topic.  Share your insights into business differences around the world!

 

Document your communication processes - the many benefits

The Forbes Communication Council recently shared their ideas  for documenting communication processes. Those processes are often fundamental to business success and once in place will allow you to act quickly and even scale smoothly.  They share an eye-opening stat that communication breakdowns can cost businesses as much as $37 billion a year!  The 14 council members each share a tip. Whether it’s ‘Start with the Basics’, ‘Create a Handbook’, or ‘Know Who to Ask and When’ the ideas are sound and with information on how it’s helped council members or how they implemented the idea internally.  Council members span universities to high tech companies like Cisco and Microsoft. Obviously successful organizations we can all learn from!  It’s a quick article that is sure to give you ideas to improve your documentation as well as your communication processes.

Succeeding as a Remote Employee: Hints from Referential’s Hanita Epstein

Being productive every day is a challenge. The challenge is nearly tripled if you work remotely, because home and work never seem like separate entities. The freedom of working from home is tough for some employees to adjust to. And as remote work is becoming more and more popular, I thought I would put together some tips to maximize your productivity as a remote employee.

Create a routine 

Setting up some structure for your day is very helpful. I work off my bullet journal, designed to track my goals and accomplishments. Every night before I head to bed, I make a list of tasks I need to accomplish the next day. Throughout the day, I track how much time each task takes, shuffling my priorities as needed. At the end of the work day, I reflect on which tasks I completed, and identify what I did well and what needs work.

Find a workspace 

Have a designated space to do your work. You’ve probably heard of aspirational stories of people who move country to country, living the life as a digital nomad. The truth is, being on the move is a productivity killer. Dealing with accommodations, WIFI connections, and low energy levels can decrease work efficiency.

Upon moving to Seattle, I found that working remotely allowed me to feel more local. As I worked at various coffee shops, libraries, and cafes, I was able to explore the city in a way that boosted my creativity and productivity. 

Have designated work clothes

The mindset “look good feel good” really comes into play as a remote worker. While you may not technically need to get out of your pajamas, I recommend getting dressed in “work clothes” each day, to get into the right frame of mind.

Wearing work clothes around the house will also limit your temptations to complete midday chores, like cooking and cleaning. Those types of mental boundaries help avoid distractions and keep you productive for longer stretches of time.

Keep in touch 

You’ve heard of the old phrase “out of sight, out of mind,” right? Unfortunately, remote workers can suffer from this, unless they make an effort to stay in touch with their boss and co-workers. With email, instant message, and shared spreadsheets, there are a myriad of opportunities to stay connected. The challenge is making a point to stay connected, to reassure employees you are there for them, and working as expected.

Let us know

Few employers train remote employees on how to be effective throughout the day, let alone explaining how to boost their creativity. Try out some of Hanita's tips and see what works for you! Leave a comment with additional tips and tricks.

Ready for GDPR?

In the global market most of us work in, the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that replaces the Data Protection Directive will impact everyone. This important site  outlines what is coming...are you ready? The site’s homepage includes a countdown clock to enforcement, 25 May 2018 is right around the corner.  The GDPR applies to organizations in the EU of course but also to all organizations, anywhere, that offer good or services to, or monitor the behavior of, EU subjects.  It applies to your organization, regardless of location, if you process or hold personal data of subjects in the European Union. 

Non-compliance is a serious matter, the fines can be substantial. All organizations need to be prepared for this change. The site linked to above has resources to help you learn more. 

Research shows - sports can be distracting at work

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Robert Half did some research  and the data shows sports does impact productivity at work. On the day after big sporting events large percentages of people call in sick or are late to work. The over 1,000 workers surveyed admitted to spending about 27 minutes a day on sports-related activities before a major sporting event. Olympics, March Madness, World Cup Soccer, and NBA playoffs are just a few major sporting events that are particularly popular and just on the horizon.

But it’s not all bad news: Sports can also contribute to teamwork. We focus on sport as a way to get everyone involved in a common activity, to come together and celebrate. We have an office fantasy football league. We’ve been known to play some World Cup games on our big screen too. Lunch time and afternoon tea break (yes, come visit, we have tea in the afternoons) can coincide with sporting events or be the time to manage that fantasy team.

You don’t have to loose the productivity, instead look for ways to foster teamwork and impact morale!

Great article, full of interviewing tips

We are interviewing our clients and their customers all the time.  Each discussion about how our role with the client might expand is really an interview.  Each call with a potential advocacy program member is an interview.  Lots of them, every day. This article from the Content Marketing Institute, written by Clare McDermott, “Perfecting The Art of the One-on-One Interview”, is full of useful ideas and links to even more ideas. McDermott divides the article into sections: how to prepare for the interview, how to begin the interview, and how to hit your stride.  Each section has great information. Depending on your level of interview experience this may serve as a refresher or be full of new information. We’re sure that even the expert interviewers among you will learn something new.  Reading this article is well worth your time. 

Let us know what you learned or how the article reinforced something you’ve always thought important. Leave a comment, below.

Is your business getting the most from micro-moments?

Are you part of a B2C company? If you’re not, you no doubt interact with them as a consumer, so the following is relevant to all of us. A recent Salesforce blog post  titled, “Micro-Moments to Transform the Customer Experience”, starts off with a bang:  "According to the fourth annual "State of Marketing" report, here, brands are increasingly competing on customer experience. In fact, 52% of B2C customers are likely to hop to the competition if you aren’t delivering a personalized experience."

52% is an astounding number. The article focuses on “micro-moments”, a term credited to Google. Micro-moments are all those time consumers turn to their mobile devices to answer an immediate question. They are key opportunities to present a great customer experience and even to increase customer loyalty. Each time we look for a review, check on status of a shipment, pull up tickets on our phone and so forth are key elements of our relationship with any business, including yours. 

The blog post has stories from many different companies about how they are using these micro-moments to improve the customer experience. It’s worth a read, it may spark a great idea for your company!

Weekend Habits of High Performers

Friday of a long week and thoughts go to the weekend. Often of fun times with family and friends, maybe just a chance to fully relax.  And then there is this article from Inc Magazine titled: “Do You Do These 4 Weekend Habits That Set High Performers Apart From Everyone Else?”  It makes one think if a change to the weekend could mean a more productive and even a more relaxing week.  The article says high performers do the following over their weekends:

·         They visualize their success

·         They review their KPI’s

·         They develop specific goals for the week

·         They adhere to the 1% rule (improve 1% each day and over time you will see big gains) 

The article is worth a read, it’s short and the time will pay back dividends.  Get a bit more detail on each of the 4 habits.  Do you do these things now?  If not, choose one to start with and let us know the impact on your week!

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?

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.

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!