Cheaters – Morning Coffee Edition

Every morning before work, I like to enjoy a cup of coffee or a soy latte at a local coffee establishment. A lot of folks have the same routine. Typically they go to the same coffee shop each morning, chat nonchalantly with their favorite barista, and go about their day. For us awkward folks, this same uneventful transaction isn’t as uneventful. For me, nonchalant discussions with a cheerful, friendly barista turns me into an extremely awkward conversationalist. “So, how’s your morning going?” …”Uh…good” (should I ask how they’re doing, what is the proper etiquette, oh crap they’re looking at me weird, hand them your credit card doofus!).

As a result, I prefer to remain under the radar and not be recognized by the workers or other coffee patrons. There’s an excellent coffee shop right next to my place of employment that I would love to frequent, but don’t because of the recognizability factor. For this reason, I spread out my coffee visits to several local coffee shops within a reasonable radius of my workplace. However, I have to walk by the coffee shop closest to my workplace to get to my work. They have a very large window, and I always feel extremely awkward walking in front of that window with another coffee cup in my hand. As an awkward person, I sometimes think people notice me more than they probably do. And this is why I think my barista thinks I’m cheating on him.

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Business professionals in beanbag chairs – Dreamforce Plaza

4 Key Marketing Lessons Learned at Dreamforce 2012

This was my first year at Dreamforce, and let me say it is an event that I highly recommend you go to if given the chance. Full of energy, industry experts, inspiring motivational speakers, and of course the entertainment and parties; it is the must-attend event of the year for any business professional. Most of the sessions I attended focused on marketing, sales process, and reporting. I also tried to make it to most of the keynotes. As a marketer I thought I’d give a summary of some of the marketing lessons I learned from my time at Dreamforce:

Business professionals in beanbag chairs – Dreamforce Plaza

Business professionals in beanbag chairs – Dreamforce Plaza

#1 The most successful people have a plan, but aren’t afraid to ditch it when it isn’t working.

From the sessions on advanced content strategy to the sessions on optimizing your sales process from lead to close; the message that resonated with me most is that it is really important to have a plan and a plan that everyone in your organization can understand and get behind.

For database marketers, this means documenting your processes. Define what a lead is, what an MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) is, what a SAL (Sales Accepted Lead) is, and what an opportunity is for your organization. These definitions can change, but it is important that your entire organization understand your process so that you’re all on the same page, talking the same language. Be transparent with all departments in your company with how you are measuring things.

Create a plan for lead nurturing, clearly define the different buying stages and appropriate content for each stage, but don’t be afraid to change these plans when prospects aren’t clicking through or moving through the buying stages. As Mike Tyson says, “Everyone has a plan, until they get hit.” Be purposeful, but flexible.

#2 Don’t let limited resources stop you or your business from being successful.

As Anthony Robbins mentioned in his keynote speech, “Lack of resources is never the problem, the problem is a lack of resourcefulness.” There are lots of expensive tools to help your business succeed, but when it comes down to it, doing the best with what you’ve been given can always lead to success. Let’s face it, most of the time marketing is thought of as a cost center, so marketers are constantly having to prove their value.

In the session on “Online Marketing for Bootstrappers,” I learned that you can do a lot with very little. Don’t have marketing automation? Use tools like Unbounce and Mailchimp to capture and segment your prospects. Have a limitied PPC budget? Measure what’s working and what’s not and focus your money on those keywords that bring you the most qualified prospects. Are you a 1-man marketing operation? Remember to keep your focus on the tasks that directly affect the bottom line. Using templates and an easily modifiable WordPress theme can create an effective online presence in no time.

#3 Take a holistic approach to everything you do. Each thing you do should build on the last thing you did.

In marketing departments large and small, sometimes we get caught up in doing our own thing, not realizing that each role is part of a marketing machine. One way to combat this is to take an agile process to your marketing efforts. Have daily “stand-up” meetings where you take a quick five minutes to suss out your team’s day and any barriers that exist to get projects moving forward. Have each team member be part of the overall strategy. Include members from other departments especially in regards to content for your company blog and real-time data on customer pain points.

One thing that I learned in the session on “Advanced Content Strategies,” was how important it is to include top executives in your social marketing efforts. At Dreamforce by and large the message became “Business is Social.” Social media has become not just one job for one person at your company, it is everyone’s job, especially top executives. Since buyers make a lot of decisions prior to even speaking to someone at your company, it is important to have different voices within your company share their knowledge, this fosters trust and makes your company a thought leader.

#4 Make the customer the hero. Don’t take all the credit.

Another great lesson I learned from Dreamforce was the importance of customer service and transparency. Let’s face it, with enough resources your product or service can be copied, your best staff hired away; the only true competitive advantage you have is your company’s culture. Providing stellar customer service from sending the right messages at the right time, providing thought leadership, assisting your customer through the buying cycle, and going out of your way to serve your customers is what will make you successful in the new “social” world.

People are already sharing their opinions of you online, so why not give them something to talk about? Provide case studies that show off your customers and how you helped them solve their toughest problems, don’t just talk about your product’s features and benefits. Another important lesson, please don’t use a ton of marketing language or internal jargon in your marketing communications. Just because your e-mails are automated, doesn’t mean they have to sound like it, be personable and human, this will go a long way in creating a relationship with your prospects and customers.

Excel Tips & Tricks for Database Marketers

As database marketers, we sometimes get faced with the tedious task of cleaning up spreadsheets and uploading lead lists into our marketing automation or e-mail marketing database. In order to better facilitate this, here are a few tips & tricks to make your data imports quick, efficient, and optimized for your e-mail marketing efforts.

1. What do I do when I get a lead list where first and last names are in the same cell?

text-to-columnsFirst, find the column of names you want to separate into different columns. Insert enough columns after this to accomodate for each piece of data. Most of the time you will only need one more column after your original column if your data just contains “First Name” and “Last Name.” However if your data contains middle initials or titles (Jr., Sr., Dr., Mr., Mrs., III, etc.), you may need to add more columns.

select-spaceSecond, highlight the entire column of data you want to separate. Then, find the “Data” tab above the ribbon in Microsoft Excel. Under “Tools” select “Text to Columns.” Select the “Delimited” radio button. On the next step of the wizard, uncheck “Tab” and select “Space” as your delimiter. This will put each word that has a space between the word before it into a separate cell (thus separating first and last name!). In the last step of the wizard, just press “Finish” and all of your data will now be separated into the columns.

Finally, you may have to do a bit more cleanup if your data included more than first name and last name as if there are middle initials some of those might be in different columns to contacts that don’t have middle initials. However, this small cleanup process is much easier than manually separating the data.

2. What do I do when I get a list where names are in all CAPS? I don’t want to sound like I’m yelling at my prospects when I send them a personalized e-mail!

properThe last thing you want to do is send out a personalized e-mail where your prospects can easily tell that it is automated; or even worse, to sound like you are yelling at your prospects with a “Hey ALISON,” in your greeting line.

One of my favorite Excel discoveries is the “PROPER” function. First, say that you have a column of first names where all the data is in CAPS. Insert a blank column next to it. In the first blank cell of your new column type “=PROPER(A2)” where A2 is the cell containing your first first name in all CAPS. Then simply copy and paste the formula all the way down your blank row. All of your data is now in a “proper” format.

Finally, copy all the data in your now properly formatted column. Select cell A2 (if that is the first cell containing your all CAPS data). Right click and select “Paste Special” and then select “Values.” This ensures that you copy the pure data, not the formula. This is also very helpful for other field types such as “Company Name” or “Job Title.” Basically, any field you would use as a personalization field in an e-mail should be properly formatted prior to import.

3. How do I format all my zip codes to be 5-digits only?

Many times I’ve gotten a list of leads where some of the zip codes are 5-digits and others are 9-digits. This doesn’t matter if you don’t use these fields for specific location targeting, but if you do, you may want to make sure all your US prospects have 5-digit zip codes.

The easiest way to accomplish this is to create a new blank column next to your zip code column. In the first cell of your blank column type, “=LEFT(A2,5)” where A1 is the first cell containing a zip code.

Finally, copy all the data in your column with properly formatted 5-digit zip codes. Select cell A2 (if that is the first cell containing your original column of zip codes). Right click and select “Paste Special” and then select “Values.” This ensures that you copy the pure data, not the formula.

SFDC Admin: When should I create a custom profile?

To keep your organization’s setup clean and easy to maintain, you want to make sure to only setup a custom user profile when absolutely necessary. User profiles can easily get out of control; you have a standard set of profiles set up and individual users come to you one by one requesting a simple permission to edit one field or wanting a special page layout just for them. I feel your pain.

With that said, there’s no reason why you should have to set up and maintain an unreasonable number of custom profiles.

The simple answer to when you should set up a custom profile is when a standard profile or previously existing custom profile doesn’t meet the needs of a number of your users. I say “number of your users” because you do not want to set up a custom profile for an individual user. But this answer is no longer that simple; with the advent of “Permission Sets” in the Winter 2012 release, there is now a much easier way of opening up some of the functionality to individual and groups of users without having to create yet another custom profile.

A permission set is away of extending a users functional access without having to change their user profile. There are only a few things that permission sets cannot do, that a custom profile can. I’ve found this chart to be extremely helpful when determining what I should use to add functionality to an individual user or group of users:

So that gives you a good idea of when to use a permission set vs. a custom profile. Another important thing to consider is that the standard profiles that SFDC uses do not give users access to newly created custom objects. I’ve found in many cases that the only thing a standard profile is good for is a template for a custom profile for this very reason. As a result, your organization may exist entirely of custom profiles.

I hope this article has made you feel confident about using custom profiles and permission sets. If you need further assistance or need a helping hand setting up custom profiles and permission sets in your org, feel free to contact me.