Monday Mornings with Madison

Yearly Archives:
2015

Top Sales and Marketing Terms of 2015 – Part 1

Ever heard the term storyscaping? How about snackable content? Conversation marketing. Brand storytelling. Snaps. Promoted chats. Owned media. Content studio. Omnichannel. Native advertising. Programmatic Marketing. Culture of Content. Data-Driven Publishing. Growth hacking. Newsjacking. Big data. Millennials. Local. Responsive web design. Adaptive web design. QR Codes. Beacons. Click fraud. Customer-centric. Engagement. H2H. Deep Linking. Nueromorphics. Media agnostic. Immersive design. Advertainment (not related to Advertorial, a much older but still useful marketing term referring to an article (instead of an ad) that is written to inform but with a slant/bias). Phablet. Twinternship. Remarketing. Freemium. mCommerce. If it feels like you’re reading Chinese — in English – you’re not alone.

These are just some (not all) of the latest sales and marketing terms making the rounds this year. The typical business owner, manager or professional is probably not familiar with most (if any) of these terms. Even some marketers might not be familiar with all of the strategies and ideas behind this terminology. But anyone running a business must stay current because, in today’s business world, the fast eat the slow. These terms reflect the ever-evolving face of sales and marketing today, and he who understands the opportunities best is best able to maintain an edge over the competition. So here’s a quick ‘cheat sheet’ to bring you up-to-date fast. Continue reading

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Marketing and Selling to Specific Generations – Part 6

The demographers, business analysts, writers and sociologists are still toying with what to call the newest generation that is emerging after the Millennials. There are a few names being tossed around — Generation Z, plurals, Generation Wii and iGeneration. iGen seems to be leading the pack. The exact cutoff date between Millennials and iGens varies from 1997 to 2000. But, basically all infants, toddlers, adolescents and teenagers today are all iGens. Of course, some are concerned that this little “i” label does not describe properly the qualities and characteristics of this newest generation. First, what is the “i” supposed to mean? Is it Internet? Interactive? International? “i” as in I or me, implying a certain preoccupation with self? There really is no consensus yet among pundits.

Of course, this makes sense since iGens have yet to come of age and are still being molded and shaped by the social, economic and political events unfolding now and in the decades to come. How can one define what is still being molded? Yes, this newest generation is certainly an Internet-savvy, technology-driven generation. It is also a social-media connected generation that is experiencing human interaction in an entirely different way than any generation before it. They are redefining what it means to be ‘connected’. As for what else their label may come to mean is still to be defined. Here is what is known so far about this youngest generation.
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Marketing and Selling to Specific Generations – Part 5

In the crowded landscape of generations, Millennials – initially dubbed Generation Y — may be the most popular, examined and adored of any generational group in a long while. Millennials, the first group to live from birth-to-death in the technology age, are one of the largest and most noteworthy cohorts. Born roughly between 1981 to 2000, it’s estimated that there were approximately 80 million Millennials in the U.S. in 2012. That number is expected to continue growing due to immigration of large numbers of younger people into the country.

Although scrutinized ad nauseam by analysts, demographers and sociologists alike, few agree on what qualities and quirks Millennials have in common. In fact, very diverse opinions reign on what defines a Millennial and what attributes the generation shares. Perhaps that is because it is still early in the process. After all, Millennials currently range in age from 16 to 35 years old. The younger members of that generation are just now coming of age and being shaped by the economic, social, political and technological developments of the 21st century. So what do businesses need to understand to be able to create a Millennial-friendly sales experience and customer service approach? And what should businesses consider as they hire and manage employees from this generation? Continue reading

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Marketing and Selling to Specific Generations – Part 4

When it comes to how much information and insights there are about a generation, the size and uniqueness of the group matters. Behemoth generations get examined closely. Demographers, sociologists, industrial psychologists, advertising researchers, and business analysts all spend oodles of time compiling and parsing data about BIG generations. Because of their sheer size, the predilections, attitudes and actions of large generations have a profound impact on society. Similarly, generations that are conspicuously different from previous ones get a lot of media attention and scientific study simply because they stand out. This explains why the nearly 80 million Baby Boomers and the 75 million Millennials have been the media darlings for decades. Those generational groups are both large and distinctive.

Conversely, smaller and less notable generations get overlooked. Meet Generation X (born 1965 to 1980), the red-headed step-child of 20th century generations. Gen Xers, as they are commonly referred to, have been largely ignored by the population patrollers. As the name implies, they have been Xed out of the demographic spotlight. Born from 1965 to roughly 1980, this somewhat overlooked generation today ranges in age from about 35 to 50. That may very well be part of the problem. This ‘generation’ doesn’t cover the usual 18-20 year span of most generations. Gen Xers also aren’t young and trending or gray and retiring. Some might even argue that they haven’t really redefined society. For the media, this generation hasn’t delivered much in the way of fire, fuss, or freshness. In most of the ways we take stock of generations – their racial and ethnic makeup, political, social and religious values, economic and educational circumstances and technological engagement – Gen Xers are somewhat low-key, smack between adventurous abundant Boomers like Steve Jobs and Sir Richard Branson and the engaging, modish Millennials like Mark Zuckerberg. That said, although many businesses are fascinated with Millennials, it would be wiser to focus on the well-educated Generation X, especially since many companies are now led by Gen Xers.
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Marketing and Selling to Specific Generations – Part 3

There are six generations alive in the U.S. today. Assuming that for the most part the GI and Silent Generations are retired, very soon we will have four very different generations (Baby Boomers (ages 51-70), Gen Xers (ages 35-50), Millennials (ages 15-35) and the newest iGeneration (now teenagers) working side-by-side for the first time in history. That’s due, in part, to the fact that people are living and working longer. These four generations will also be customers, with very different values, experiences and styles. They will likely also partake in very different kinds of activities. This is both exciting and challenging. How can a business manage such diverse audience of customers and employees? Knowledge is key.

Today, we’ll look at the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964). Of all the generations living in the U.S. today, the most well-known and well-documented is probably the Baby Boomers. Born from 1946 to 1964, Baby Boomers were the children of either the GI Generation or the Silent Generation. The parents of Baby Boomers were patriotic, respectful of authority and accepting and trusting of government. Those parents also believed in absolutes, sacrificing for the greater good and following the rules. But the age of conformity, sacrifice and towing the line ended with the arrival of the Baby Boomers. Boomers are known to be mavericks, bucking trends and taking risks. What’s more, even what was known about this generation a decade ago is still evolving. Meet the “Me” Generation.
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Marketing and Selling to Specific Generations – Part 2

There are six generations living in the U.S. today. Each spans a period of approximately 15-20 years or so. The oldest is the GI Generation (born 1901-1926). They are followed by the Silent Generation also referred to as the Conformists or Traditionalists (born 1927 – 1945). Then came the well-documented Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964) followed by Generation X (born 1965 – 1980) and then Generation Y also known as the Millennials (born 1981 – 2000). The most recent generation to emerge (born 2001 to the present) is being dubbed the iGeneration. They are also being referred to as Generation Z, plurals or Generation Wii.

So what is the purpose of labeling and defining generations? Most people in business, marketing and the media would say that the labels help them connect with and understand specific audiences. Called generational marketing, marketers use the trends and truisms for each group to customize their strategies in line with the values and qualities of the audience. For the media, the labels help to describe and ascribe cultural, social and political trends. But those labels are completely irrelevant to the people in those cohorts. The labels do nothing to shape the identity of the generations. It is life experience that shapes and defines them. Each generation is believed to share a host of qualities and characteristics that are a reflection of, reaction to, or rejection of events occurring whilst they were coming of age.

Indeed, it’s easy to overstate or over-generalize the qualities of a generation. Not everyone identifies with the labels of their generation. For example, the generation known as the Silent Generation, is viewed as one of traditionalists and conformists. Yet, much of what is now known about this generation shows that those labels may not be a perfect fit. While this generation may have followed many of the characteristics of the GI Generation before it, it also bucked many trends. And, given their net worth, it is a generation that businesses should understand well and engage. Continue reading

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Marketing and Selling to Specific Generations – Part 1

Each generation is different from the one before. Each develops its own unique set of qualities, characteristics, and values, as well as likes and dislikes. These are greatly influenced by or in response to the political, economic and social times in which they are coming of age. It is also may stem, in part, from some innate desire to be different than one’s parents. Generation Xers are different than the Baby Boomers before them. And Millenials are different from the Gen Xers that preceded them. Certainly, the newest generation now emerging – being referred to by various monikers including iGeneration, Generation Wii, the Plurals or Generation Z – is bound to differ from past generations as they are shaped by technology and the accelerating speed of change.

Some business owners, leaders or managers may want to ignore generational differences and just develop and market a company’s quality products or services to everyone the same way. That, however, is a potential mistake. The more a company is able to understand generational differences and reach those audiences in a way that speaks specifically to them, the more a company’s products or services will resonate… and sell. Thus, understanding the unique characteristics of each generation is essential. Continue reading

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Customer Service Begins with Coworker Kindness

In most any business, employees are surrounded by customers, both external and internal.
The external customer is the person who uses the company’s services. For Staples, it’s the parent purchasing back-to-school supplies for the kids. For Chase Manhattan Bank, it’s the real estate magnate taking out a $20 million loan to purchase an office building. On the other hand, the internal customer is anyone within the company who works with a specific employee or relies on a specific employee to get their job done. It is the coworker who needs a clerk’s help to track down a file, or the manager who asks an employee to follow up with a customer or the two colleagues who work together to deliver a service. Regardless of whether external or internal, each employee should treat every person with whom they interact with the same respect and courtesy.

However, often employees think that customer service begins with the external customer and ends with the company’s management. Indeed, coworker kindness is often reserved exclusively for the company’s C-Suite execs and other mucky mucks while most other coworkers are treated with an appalling lack of respect, courtesy or cooperation. The typical workplace has at least one employee who demonstrates some rude, aggressive or even downright mean behavior to certain coworkers. This bad behavior often goes unchecked for a number of reasons. But, even if an employee’s bad attitude and manners are only demonstrated to or directed at coworkers – and never to external customers or management – it can still hurt a company’s bottom line. Here’s how.
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Is It Ever Okay to Burn Bridges in Business?

To ‘burn bridges’ is a colloquial expression that means to destroy one’s path, connections, reputation, relationships or opportunities…. often unintentionally or carelessly. It can be personal or professional. Sometimes a bridge is burned due to an emotional response to an unexpected, negative situation. Sometimes, it is a byproduct of a contentious, unsolvable dispute. It is a behavior that might be generally thought of as imprudent, impulsive and unadvisable. Yet, people burns bridges all the time. In fact, people – across the spectrum from politics to business – seem much more willing to burn bridges. Relationships that were carefully nurtured for years are suddenly allowed to end…and end badly. Why?

To begin with, few people see themselves as ‘bridge burners’. Some might see bridge burning as the result of a bad situation that was impossible to avoid. Someone who recklessly ruins a relationship might view themselves as irreverent, brutally honest, tough, shrewd, blunt or temperamental. In fact, some might even see bridge-burning as necessary for success. And, it is true that some of the most successful business people in history were known for being blatant bridge burners. For example, Cornelius Vanderbilt, considered America’s first tycoon, was known for his contentious character and legendary feuds. While his genius and force of will did more than perhaps any other individual to create modern capitalism, he was highly combative and didn’t care what bridges he burned in his business dealings. The question then is whether burning bridges is sometimes unavoidable – or perhaps even necessary – to be successful in business? Are there instances in which burning a bridge is acceptable? Or should savvy professionals always seek to build and preserve bridges? When it comes to business, is it ever okay to burn bridges?
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The Accelerating Pace of Change in Business

Most people would agree that pace of change is accelerating. Some would even say the pace of change has hastened to an alarming rate. News travels seemingly at the speed of light. Social media has accelerated the pace at which news hits and spreads virally across the globe. Software updates are being issued even before the kinks are worked out of the previous version. The next generation of smart phones is released scarcely before we’ve had a chance to even crack the glass on the previous device. Transportation is also getting faster with high-speed trains and supersonic jets revolutionized the time it takes to get from point A to point B. Medical advances are also being discovered more rapidly. Seemingly daily, innovations in medicines, devices and therapies are being introduced that combat the most devastating illnesses. And fashion no longer adjusts according to the seasons. New styles are popping up in magazines, programs and window displays every week. As soon as one trend gains traction, another look emerges pushing the previous one into design history.

Indeed, the lightning-fast speed of change is redefining concepts such as old, historical, dated and passé. There isn’t even time to get comfortable and used to something before it is outmoded and updated. In some ways, this is a good thing. After all, who can argue against advances in medicine? But, for businesses, it is difficult to keep up with such a relentless pace of change. As things change, people’s skills must be updated so that they stay current and fresh. Technology must be updated. Systems must be replaced. So how can businesses and employees keep up with the ruthless onslaught of change that seems to make something obsolete even before there is time to learn and adjust to it?
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